COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOV 26 Michigan at Ohio State
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The 2023 Big Ten season will be the final one in which the league features only 14 teams and two divisions. Next year, the league will expand to 16 teams with the additions of USC and UCLA and do away with divisions altogether. That means life will be more difficult for everybody in the league, and perhaps it will lead to a change in pattern between Michigan and Ohio State ruling the league with an iron fist.

Michigan and Ohio State entered their rivalry game last year at 11-0. The Wolverines had already surpassed their preseason win total of 9.5, while Ohio State had matched it at 11. The Wolverines would push past that total even further and then win the league for the second consecutive season, while the Buckeyes merely pushed.

Things were truly chaotic in the Big Ten West, however, where Purdue won the division at 8-4 overall (6-3 in Big Ten) and went over its preseason win total of 7. The Boilermakers' win total is five this year; suffice it to say the oddsmakers aren't expecting a repeat.

What am I expecting? I went through every game on the Big Ten schedule to determine how teams will finish. Last year, I went 6-5-3 in my projections, and if you had bet $1 million on all 14, you'd have made a $1.05 million profit. 

Win totals from Caesars Sportsbook


Over/under 6.5 wins

Wins: Toledo, at Kansas, FAU, Nebraska, at Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern
Losses: Penn State, at Purdue, at Maryland, Wisconsin, at Iowa

Analysis: I took the Illini over 4.5 wins last year thinking they'd get to a bowl game, but I didn't see eight wins coming. I don't see eight wins coming this season, either, but 7-5 is doable. Even with some key departures, the Illini will be strong on both lines and may have upgraded at QB. Road games against Kansas, Minnesota, Purdue and Maryland will determine how the season goes. Pick: Over 6.5 (-130)


Over/under 4 wins

Wins: Indiana State, Akron, Rutgers
Losses: Louisville, at Illinois, Ohio State, at Maryland, at Michigan, at Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, at Purdue

Analysis: It's a rough start to the season for the Hoosiers, who open the year at home against Ohio State. Games against Indiana State and Akron should be wins, but a game against old friend Jeff Brohm and Louisville won't be easy. Outside of the games I have listed as wins, it's hard to find spots where you can be confident the Hoosiers will be favored. To hit this over, they'll have to steal one or two on the road against Maryland, Illinois or Purdue. Pick: Under 4 (-140)


Over/under 7.5 wins

Wins: Utah State, at Iowa State, Western Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Northwestern, Rutgers
Losses: at Penn State, at Wisconsin, at Nebraska

Analysis: I have no idea what Iowa's offense will look like this season, but this team does a good job of winning eight games despite never scoring points. So if it figures out where the end zone is on offense, it could be dangerous. I don't see this team losing a game at home, and the road schedule has a few challenging games but it isn't impossible. Pick: Over 7.5 (-110)


Over/under 7 wins

Wins: Towson, Charlotte, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, at Northwestern, at Rutgers
Losses: at Michigan State, at Ohio State, Penn State, at Nebraska, at Michigan

Analysis: Is there a team looking forward to eliminating divisions more than Maryland? The Terps should get off to a 3-0 start, and a 5-0 start isn't out of the realm of possibility. A push is the most likely outcome, but seeing that I'm forced to choose a side, 8-4 seems slightly more likely than 6-6, so I'm going over as the official play. The Big Ten opener against Michigan State probably decides it one way or the other. Pick: Over 7 (+100)


Over/under 10.5 wins

Wins: East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green, Indiana, at Maryland, Rutgers, at Nebraska, at Minnesota, at Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State
Losses: at Penn State

Analysis: Last season, I had both Michigan and Ohio State starting the year 11-0 before meeting in the final week of the regular season, and that's what happened. I don't have that happening this year. The nonconference shouldn't provide a challenge, so we probably won't get a clear reading of how good this team is until a road trip to Nebraska in late September -- or, we may have to wait until mid-November when the Wolverines go to State College. It's the only regular-season game I have them losing. Pick: Over 10.5 (-130)

Michigan State

Over/under 4.5 wins

Wins: Central Michigan, Richmond, at Indiana, Maryland, at Rutgers, Nebraska
Losses: Washington, at Iowa, Michigan, at Minnesota, at Ohio State, Penn State

Analysis: I took the over on the Spartans at 7.5 last year because, while I anticipated they would come back down to Earth after a tremendous 2021 season, I didn't think it would be as steep a fall. Long story short: I don't believe Sparty was as good as its record in 2021, nor do I think it was as bad as its record in 2022. Things should even out a bit this year, but even if I have the Spartans going 6-6, I'll fully admit my confidence level is somewhere between "shrug" and "hiding beneath a blanket." Pick: Over 4.5 (-180)


Over/under 7 wins

Wins: Eastern Michigan, Louisiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, at Purdue, at Northwestern
Losses: at Iowa, Michigan, at North Carolina, at Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois

Analysis: I didn't see this coming. When I saw the win total posted at seven, I thought that was where I'd end up. Instead, I have the Gophers finishing 6-6. The nonconference features a tough road trip against North Carolina, and the Gophers get a brutal draw from the East with Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. I don't see a path to eight wins without a major upset along the way. Pick: Under 7 (-110)


Over/under 6 wins

Wins: at Colorado, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Iowa, Maryland, Northwestern, Purdue
Losses: at Illinois, Michigan, at Michigan State, at Minnesota, at Wisconsin

Analysis: Call your friends! Call your neighbors! I've got Nebraska going bowling for the first time since 2016! History suggests that the first year of a Matt Rhule tenure can be rough, but the situation Rhule's inheriting at Nebraska is better than the spots he inherited before. Plus, the transfer portal speeds things up. We saw what an upgrade in coaching could do for a team like Illinois, and I see Nebraska in a similar situation. Plus, the schedule isn't incredibly challenging. The only home game I have the Huskers losing is Michigan, and there are possible wins on that road slate. Pick: Over 6 (-130)


Over/under 3.5 wins

Wins: UTEP, Howard, at Duke
Losses: at Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, at Nebraska, at Rutgers, Minnesota, Penn State, at Wisconsin, Purdue

Analysis: Northwestern won the Big Ten West in 2020 and has gone 2-16 in league play since. I don't anticipate things being much different this year, though it's not like the Wildcats haven't surprised us before. I have them going 3-0 in nonconference, but a road trip to Duke won't be easy. The season-opener at Rutgers might be the most winnable Big Ten game, but it's on the road and it could be Rutgers' best shot at a Big Ten win, too. There are conference games where you wouldn't be shocked if Northwestern wins, but there's nothing to feel great about. Pick: Under 3.5 (-110)

Ohio State

Over/under 10.5 wins

Wins: Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, at Notre Dame, at Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, at Purdue, Penn State, at Wisconsin, at Rutgers
Losses: at Michigan

Analysis: I have more questions about Ohio State entering 2023 than I've had in a while, which is natural considering there's a new QB and possibly a new play-caller in the recently promoted offensive coordinator, Brian Hartline. That said, it's still Ohio State, and it will still be favored to win almost every week. The nonconference features a tough road game against Notre Dame, but I have even more questions about the Irish than the Buckeyes. In Big Ten play, coach Ryan Day has done a much better job of avoiding the self-inflicted loss than his predecessor, Urban Meyer, so this feels like it will once again come down to that finale at Michigan. Pick: Over 10.5 (+110)

Penn State

Over/under 9.5 wins

Wins: West Virginia, Delaware, UMass, at Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, at Maryland, Michigan, at Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers
Losses: at Ohio State

Analysis: Last year, Penn State was coming off a 7-6 mark a year after going 4-5, and I took the Over 8.5. Many called me a fool for doing so, but the Nittany Lions easily cruised past that total and finished the year 11-2. Well, I like Penn State even more this year. The offensive line is solid, the defense will be nasty and there might be a significant upgrade at QB. Add in a pillow-soft nonconference and a manageable road slate, and I have a hard time seeing this team lose more than twice during the regular season. Pick: Over 9.5 (-140)


Over/under 5 wins

Wins: Fresno State, Syracuse, Illinois, Indiana, at Northwestern, Wisconsin
Losses: at Virginia Tech, at Iowa, at Michigan, Minnesota, at Nebraska, Ohio State

Analysis: Purdue fans are convinced I hate them, which couldn't be further from the truth because I love trains. Also, I'm picking the Boilermakers to go over, even if I don't truly believe it. Coach Ryan Walters will face an absolute bear of a schedule in his debut. The Boilermakers get Ohio State and Michigan from the East and have a tough nonconference vs. Fresno State, Syracuse and at Virginia Tech. Also, have you looked at the four-game stretch starting in October with road games against Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan with Ohio State sandwiched in between? A 5-7 record is the most likely outcome, but while I have 6-6 as more likely than 4-8, it's not by as wide a margin as Purdue fans would hope. Pick: Over 5 (-130)


Over/under 4 wins

Wins: Temple, Virginia Tech, Wagner, Northwestern
Losses: at Indiana, at Iowa, Maryland, at Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, at Penn State, at Wisconsin

Analysis: Rutgers has only won five games once in the last eight years, so it's hard to justify picking it to finish over four this year. I have the Scarlet Knights going 3-0 in nonconference, but that's far from a guarantee. In the Big Ten, the season-opener at home against Northwestern seems like their best chance for a conference win, but I won't rule out games against Indiana or Maryland. I have 4-8 just beating out 3-9, with both a healthy margin ahead of 5-7. Pick: Under 4 (+100)


Over/under 8.5 wins

Wins: Buffalo, at Washington State, at Georgia Southern, at Illinois, at Indiana, Iowa, at Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Rutgers
Losses: Ohio State, at Purdue

Analysis: I've been pumping the brakes on Wisconsin all offseason, so of course, when I pick my head up after finishing this exercise, I have the Badgers going 10-2. Good job, Tom. I may have the Badgers finishing with 1.5 more wins than the projected total, but I don't feel great about it. There are a lot of X-factors in play here as first-year coach Luke Fickell attempts to overhaul the roster and identity of the program in one offseason. He could pull it off. He's a great coach. He could also struggle because what Wisconsin is trying to do isn't easy in one offseason. Still, the defense will be nasty, and while the Badgers have to play Ohio State, the other two teams they get from the East are Indiana and Rutgers. There are wins to be had on this schedule. I may be an idiot for predicting 10-2 here, but I still think 9-3 is likelier than 8-4. Pick: Over 8.5 (-130)