Ohio State Or Michigan? Betting Positives & Negatives In The Big Ten

Big10

Friday, July 29, 2016 8:24 PM GMT

Here is a positive and negative for every school along with BetOnline odds to win the Big Ten championship and a likely spot in the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State (+150)
Positive: OSU has Meyer, perhaps the best coach in the country and five-star recruits all over the roster. And the Buckeyes have the Big Ten's best returning quarterback in J.T. Barrett. In 2014 when the job was solely his, Barrett was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

Negative: The fewest returning starters in the nation with just six. So this team is really, really young. And OSU could have no margin for error to reach the College Football Playoff if it loses at Oklahoma in perhaps the non-conference game of the year on Sept. 17. The Sooners opened as early 6-point favorites on college football picks for that one.

Michigan (+200)
Positive: Mega-momentum under the most interesting and social-savvy coach in the country in Harbaugh. UM had one of nation's top defenses in 2015 and it might only get better with the hiring of highly regarded coordinator Don Brown from Boston College. The most talented all-around player in college football could be Michigan defensive back Jabril Peppers -- think Charles Woodson. He might also play hybrid linebacker at times this season.

Negative: This team has a bull's-eye on its chest now. How will it respond? With all that Harbaugh improved last year, the Wolverines still lost again to both Michigan State (albeit on a fluke) and Ohio State (in a blowout). We also don't know who the starting QB will be.

Iowa (+750)
Positive: A really forgiving schedule. No Michigan State or Ohio State from the Big Ten East. The toughest games -- Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska -- are all at home. Also, QB C.J. Beathard returns as does one of the Big Ten's best defensive players in defensive back Desmond King, the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner.

Negative: The NCAA denied a medical redshirt season for excellent defensive end Drew Ott. He played through a serious elbow injury for a month last year, then was lost to a season-ending ACL tear. Ott led Iowa in sacks and tackles for loss and scored a touchdown on a blocked punt return in 2014.

Michigan State (+850)
Positive: The Spartans seem to play their best when people overlook them; it's why they have such a tremendous record against Top 10 teams under Mark Dantonio. MSU thinks it found the next Le'Veon Bell in sophomore bruising running back L.J. Scott. Don't be shocked if he leads the Big Ten in rushing.

Negative: The loss of three-year starting QB Connor Cook. He finished his career as the winningest quarterback in school history with 34 victories (2-0 in Big Ten Championship Games), which are the fourth-most in Big Ten history. Also, will there be a hangover from that a**kicking against Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals?

Nebraska (+850)
Positive: I can confidently say this was the best 6-7 team in the nation last year. Every loss but one was by one possession (so 8 points or fewer) and four were by three points or fewer. The Huskers did close strong with wins in three of their final four games, including over No. 7 Michigan State.

Negative: The Huskers lost four starters on the offensive line in guard/tackle Zach Sterup, guard Chongo Kondolo, center Ryne Reeves and tackle Alex Lewis. Three starters on the defensive line also are gone. NU has to travel to Big Ten favorite Ohio State this season.

Wisconsin (+1400)
Positive: The Badgers win by running the ball behind one of the nation's most physical offensive lines and they should be fine there with four starters back up front and a return to health of running back Corey Clement. He shined in sharing duties with Melvin Gordon in 2014 but was injury-plagued last year.

Negative: Probably the Big Ten's hardest overall schedule as it has seven teams that won eight or more games last season. Wisconsin is a 10-point underdog on college football odds for its season opener at Lambeau Field against LSU and has to play the three best teams from the Big Ten East in Michigan State (road), Michigan (road) and Ohio State. No West Division team should have to play those three in one year. Plus the Badgers visit reigning West champion Iowa.

Penn State (+2000)
Positive: One of the breakout stars in the Big Ten last year was Penn State freshman running back Saquon Barkley, who set the school's freshman rushing record last season (1,076 yards) despite playing behind one of the Big Ten's worst offensive lines. He averaged an incredible 8.3 yards per carry when he wasn't touched by an opponent behind the line of scrimmage. The offense will go through Barkley this year.

Negative: Must replace three-year starting QB Christian Hackenberg. If PSU were in the Big Ten West, it could contend for that division crown. But it's in the East. The offensive line has been terrible for two years, allowing a combined 83 sacks in them.

Northwestern (+4000)
Positive: The top returning rusher in the Big Ten is Justin Jackson, who essentially was the Northwestern offense last year in carrying 312 times for 1,418 yards and five scores. The defense was one of the country's best in 2015 and returns All-American linebacker Anthony Walker Jr.

Negative: The offense is too one-dimensional and that showed against the better teams on NU's schedule in 2015. This year's schedule is tougher as it adds Michigan State and Ohio State, both on the road, from the East Division.

Minnesota (+5000)
Positive: The schedule is about as friendly as possible for a team in the Big Ten West. The Gophers should easily be 3-0 out of conference after hosting Oregon State, Indiana State and Colorado State. They don't play Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State from the East. No reason this team can't go at least 8-4. with QB Mitch Leidner returning.

Negative: The offensive line and defensive secondary are concerns as both units lost three starters. The secondary was a strength last season as the Gophers were one of the best teams against the pass.

Indiana (+10000)
Positive: The 2015 Hoosiers played in their first bowl game last year since 2007 and their six wins were their most since then. This team is going to be good offensively because head coach Kevin Wilson is one of the most creative minds on that side of the ball in the country.

Negative: Indiana finished last in total defense in the Big Ten after allowing more than 509 yards per game last season. IU also has to replace Nate Sudfeld, one of the best QBs in school history, and leading rusher Jordan Howard.

Illinois (+10000)
Positive: New athletic director Josh Whitman was finally given the financial resources from the school to aim high for a head coach and he did in landing former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Bucs coach Lovie Smith. I'd say he's an upgrade on the likes of Bill Cubit, Tim Beckman, Vic Koenning, Ron Zook and Ron Turner to name the previous five Illini coaches.

Negative: Illinois has the fewest amount of returning starters in the Big Ten West Division and just one starter back on the defensive back seven. In addition, top receiver Mikey Dudek tore his ACL again and will miss a second straight season. In 2014, he broke school freshman records in 2014 with 76 catches for 1,038 yards.

Purdue (+15000)
Positive: No team returns more starters in the Big Ten than Purdue, with eight on both sides of the ball. The pass game was actually pretty solid last year and QB David Blough showed some very promising signs as a redshirt freshman after taking over for Austin Appleby.

Negative: Why on earth did school officials not fire Coach Darrell Hazell after last season? The Boilers are 1-13 on the road under him and 2-22 in Big Ten play.

Maryland (+15000)
Positive: The Terps should automatically be better defensively with the hiring of Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin as the new head coach, replacing Randy Edsall. Durkin is a super-energetic guy like his former boss Harbaugh. Terps boosters never liked Edsall so that's a start.

Negative: When AD Kevin Anderson fired Edsall during last season, he said he wanted an offensive mind to replace him to invigorate a sagging fan base. So why Durkin? When your own AD is wishy-washy, well, that's not good. Also, seven of Maryland's nine losses were by double digits last year so there's a long way to go.

Rutgers (+25000)
Positive: At least it's not in the Big East any longer? A lot of experts liked the school's hiring of Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash as the head coach, replacing the fired Kyle Flood. It worked out pretty well for the University of Houston last season when it hired OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman as its head coach.

Negative: This entire athletic program is digging out of a huge hole and all the top recruits in the state are still leaving. The only reason the Big Ten took Rutgers a couple of years ago was for the New York market. If given a do-over, the Big Ten probably passes.