Expert Picks: 2013 Big Ten over/under win totals

Can Braxton Miller lead Ohio State to another 12-0 regular season?
Can Braxton Miller lead Ohio State to another undefeated regular season? (USATSI)

It won't be much longer until we have actual college football games to watch on Saturday and all is right with the world. Until then, we have gambling opportunities, as 5Dimes released its early over/under win totals a few weeks ago. So to help you out, the Eye On College Football blog is breaking down the wager for each major conference team. And, of course, this is for entertainment purposes only. (Wink, wink, elbow to the ribs.)

Note: The over/under win totals listed by 5Dimes does not include any potential conference championship or bowl games. Each win-total number is for the 2013 regular season only.

Leaders Division

Ohio State, 11.5

Over (+140)/Under (-180)

Well, we all know that Ohio State went 12-0 last season, and that was in Urban Meyer's first year with the team. Surely things will be better in his second year, right? Well, it's certainly understandable to think so when you look at the Buckeyes' schedule, but going undefeated is hard. Let's remember that while Alabama won the last two national titles, the Tide didn't get through either regular season without a loss. And while the Buckeyes have nine returning starters on offense -- including quarterback and Heisman candidate Braxton Miller -- they have only four returning starters on defense. So while I wouldn't be surprised if Ohio State went 12-0 again -- and you get decent value with the +140 odds on the over -- I think the most likely result is one loss during the regular season, possibly in the season finale at Michigan. VERDICT: Under

Penn State, 8.5

Over (+150)/Under (-190)

Bill O'Brien's first season with the Nittany Lions has to be considered a success considering the slow start the team had. He helped make Matt McGloin, who previously wasn't exactly a world-beater, into one of the best quarterbacks in the conference last season. However, as well as things went, the Nittany Lions still finished 8-4. This season they have to break in another new quarterback -- whether it's juco transfer Tyler Ferguson or true freshman Christian Hackenberg -- and they also get both Ohio State and Wisconsin on the road. So, to me, an 8-4 season in 2013 seems like the ceiling. VERDICT: Under

Wisconsin, 8.5

Over (-210)/Under (+160)

Wow, judging by the odds it looks like Vegas is confident that Wisconsin will get to nine wins in 2013. And I can see why, as the Badgers may lose Montee Ball, but they have plenty of capable replacements and four starters returning on the offensive line. An area of concern would be a secondary without much experience, but looking at Wisconsin's schedule, aside from Arizona State and Penn State, there aren't a lot of teams that take to the air on offense with regularity. However, Wisconsin has been a place where there's been a lot of stability for the last 20 years as the program transitioned from Barry Alvarez to Bret Bielema. That's not the case this season with Gary Andersen, who I think will do a good job in Madison but I believe will face an adjustment period. And that adjustment period will likely include an unexpected loss along the way. VERDICT: Under

Indiana, 5.5

Over (-190)/(+150)

The Hoosiers are somewhat of a darkhorse favorite in the Big Ten this season, and for good reason. The team seemed on the right track under Kevin Wilson last season, at least on offense. The Hoosiers also have 19 returning starters in 2013, which is another boost. However, even with all of that going for them, I don't know if the defense can improve enough to take this team from 4-8 to 6-6 or better, especially when you consider that Indiana's four road games this season include trips to Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Yes, there are other wins on the schedule, but I'm just not sure there's enough to get to six. VERDICT: Under

Purdue, 5.5

Over (+175)/Under (-245)

Purdue managed to get to six wins last season, but this year there's a new head coach in Darrell Hazell, which means a new scheme, and there's not a ton of experience on the roster. Only 13 starters return, but only five of them are on offense and the losses on the defensive side of the ball -- Kawann Short in particular -- are a lot to overcome. Combine that with one of the tougher schedules in the Big Ten and there's a reason Vegas set the odds on the under at -245. VERDICT: Under

Illinois, 3.5

Over (-160)/Under (+120)

Illinois is not going to be a good team in 2013, but it'll be hard to be much worse than the team that finished 2-10 last season, and all we have to think about here is whether or not the Illini can get to four wins. Can they? Well, the schedule doesn't do them many favors as their most "winnable" conference games are all on the road and the nonconference schedule includes Cincinnati and Washington. However, with a new offensive coordinator in Bill Cubit, I believe Illinois' offense will be improved enough to help the Illini steal a win at some point. So I think they'll manage to get to four wins, though just barely. VERDICT: Over

Legends Division

Michigan, 9.5

Over (-105)/Under (+135)

So can Michigan improve by two wins in 2013? It won't be easy, as only 12 starters return from last season, and that includes only four players on both the offensive and defensive lines combined. There's also a question mark around Fitzgerald Toussaint's health and whether or not he'll be completely healthy in time for the season. The schedule isn't exactly easy, either, and I feel like Michigan getting to 10 wins will come down to two games: Notre Dame and Ohio State. Can the Wolverines win both of those games without tripping during four tough conference road games? I'm not so sure. VERDICT: Under

Nebraska, 9.5

Over (Even)/Under (-140)

The Cornhuskers got to 10 wins in the regular season in 2012. Can they do it again? The good news is that Taylor Martinez and just about every other skill position player on offense returns. The bad news is only four players return on defense. Other good news for Nebraska is that it has a favorable schedule, and if it gets past UCLA at home in its third game, the Huskers should get off to a 7-0 start. Then if they can defend their home field -- which they tend to do -- they're sitting right there finishing the regular season with a 10-2 mark for the second straight season. VERDICT: Over

Michigan State, 8.5

Over (-120)/Under (-120)

Vegas seems a bit higher on the Spartans than I am. It's important to remember that Michigan State finished the regular season 6-6 last season and had a lot of trouble putting points on the board. And while eight starters return on offense, it's the players who aren't returning -- running back Le'Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims -- who we should be paying attention to. Even with those big losses, Michigan State's defense will be sound because Mark Dantonio's defenses always are. It's just that until I see an offense that's capable of scoring more than 20 points a game with regularity I have a hard time picturing this team getting to nine wins. VERDICT: Under

Northwestern, 8.5

Over (-130)/Under (-110)

Things have turned around somewhat quickly in Evanston, haven't they? Northwestern gets to double-digit wins last year (only nine in the regular season) and wins a bowl game and now suddenly they're expected to win eight or nine games, and for good reason. The Wildcats return 15 starters, including Kain Colter and Venric Mark. They also catch a couple breaks as far as the schedule is concerned with Ohio State and Michigan both coming to Evanston this season. So when you add it all up, another nine-win season doesn't seem all that unlikely. VERDICT: Over

Iowa, 5.5

Over (-120)/Under (-120)

Iowa's offense can't be as terrible in 2013 as it was in 2012, can it? If you're an Iowa fan, you better hope not. Coming off a 4-8 season, we're now pondering whether Iowa can get back to a bowl game with only 13 returning starters. Health will be a big factor, but relying on Iowa running backs to stay healthy these days is not a safe bet. The good news for Iowa is that it gets most of the Legends Division heavies at home this season, with only Nebraska being a road game. It's just the Hawkeyes also get Ohio State on the road. I think it's all going to come down to whether Iowa can beat Iowa State on the road in September, and you know what? I'm saying it does. VERDICT: Over

Minnesota, 5.5

Over (-120)/Under (-120)

Minnesota is going to surprise some people in 2013. The Gophers return 10 starters on offense, including QB Philip Nelson, who showed a ton of potential after taking over as the tarter as a freshman last year. I think Nelson will harness that potential a bit better in 2013 and be more consistent, which will help Minnesota overall. And then there's the Jerry Kill Effect. At Kill's previous two stops, his third season is when we see improvement. At Southern Illinois, his teams went 5-18 in his first two seasons before improving to 10-2 in Year 3. At Northern Illinois, the Huskies improved from 13-13 in the first two years to 10-3 in the third. I'm not saying Minnesota is going to jump up to 10 wins this season, but they can get to six. VERDICT: Over

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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