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Big Ten Football: Over/Under Predictions on DraftKings Win Totals for 2021 Season

Chris Olave, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Chris Olave, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

College football’s 2021 season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to start placing wagers and bets on the DraftKings over/under totals for the Big Ten. It's Ohio State's conference to lose once again in '21, but a solid second tier of teams is in place with Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State all projected as top 25 teams.

Earlier this week, DraftKings Sportsbook released over/under win totals for all 14 teams in the Big Ten. While some of these predictions will evolve, below are Athlon’s early calls on whether to take the over, under or hold on a wager on the DraftKings odds.

Big Ten Football: Over/Under Predictions on DraftKings Win Totals for 2021 Season

East Division

Indiana

DraftKings O/U: 8

The Hoosiers nearly made a New Year’s Six bowl after last year’s 6-1 mark in Big Ten play and seven-point loss to Ohio State. Coach Tom Allen has assembled one of the conference’s top defenses and has plenty of firepower on tap with quarterback Michael Penix Jr., receiver Ty Fryfogle and tight end Peyton Hendershot.

Early Call: Pass

Penix is coming off his third season-ending injury, and there’s some underlying metrics (plus-eight in turnover margin and just 5.1 yards per play on offense) that suggest some regression is likely. Catching Iowa, Cincinnati and Penn State within the first five games is tough.

Related: Athlon Sports' College Football Top 25 for 2021

Maryland

DraftKings O/U: 6

Mike Locksley seems to have Maryland trending in the right direction going into the 2021 season. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa could be one of the best in the Big Ten, and the Terrapins have one of the top receiving corps in the conference. Finding a new running back, improving up front and continuing to progress on defense top the offseason to-do list for Locksley.

Early Call: Pass

Maryland should be in the mix for a bowl, but it’s hard to feel confident in a value after playing in just five games last year. With crossover games against Iowa and Minnesota, a non-conference matchup versus West Virginia and swing road trips to Michigan State and Rutgers, we would recommend a pass (for now).

Michigan

DraftKings O/U: 7.5

Jim Harbaugh is hitting the reset button after a disappointing 2-4 season. The Wolverines feature a revamped staff, including a new defensive signal-caller after this unit surrendered 34.5 points a game in 2020. How the new staff meshes with Harbaugh isn’t the only concern, however. Michigan has to settle a quarterback battle, improve up front and in the secondary.

Early Call: Under

Michigan might be the toughest team in the Big Ten to get a read on this preseason. Before last year’s losing mark, Harbaugh won at least eight games in each of his previous five seasons. The talent and track record are there. However, the question marks are significant.

Michigan State

DraftKings O/U: 4.5

Mel Tucker’s late hire and unusual (and very limited) offseason certainly impacted Michigan State’s performance in 2020. Tucker hopes an infusion of transfers on both sides of the ball is enough to get the Spartans back into a bowl game this fall.

Early Call: Under

Simply passing on Michigan State’s win total for betting purposes might be the smart play with all of the unknowns. However, a schedule featuring road trips to Northwestern, Miami, Rutgers, Indiana and Ohio State is not easy. The transfers should help, but this team is right there on 4-8/5-7 territory.

Ohio State

DraftKings O/U: 11

Justin Fields is gone, but Ohio State has three talented options at quarterback – Kyle McCord, Jack Miller III and C.J. Stroud – and a strong supporting cast to help the new signal-caller. The Buckeyes have room to improve on defense after allowing 25.8 points a game and struggling versus the pass last year.

Early Call: Over

The upside is limited here, but the Buckeyes haven’t lost a regular season game since 2018. Games at Minnesota and Indiana and a home matchup versus Oregon are tough. However, we would take Ohio State to go 12-0 this fall.

Related: Athlon Sports' College Football Top 25 for 2021

Penn State

DraftKings O/U: 9

The Nittany Lions started 0-5 but rallied to win their last four and hope to use that momentum to get back on track in 2021. Coach James Franklin jettisoned Kirk Ciarrocca after one year to hire Mike Yurcich as offensive play-caller. Yurcich’s first task is to get quarterback Sean Clifford on track after an uneven ’20 season. Penn State’s defense has holes to fill up front and dipped into the transfer portal for help.

Early Call: Under

We don’t think Penn State was as bad as its record indicated last year, but the under is probably the better play here. Iowa and Wisconsin is a brutal crossover draw, and Franklin’s team still has to navigate matchups versus Ohio State, Indiana, Auburn, Michigan and Maryland.

Rutgers

DraftKings O/U: 4

Greg Schiano’s second stint is off to a good start, as Rutgers won three Big Ten contests last fall after claiming only three in the previous four years (2017-19). Also, the offense showed marked improvement under play-caller Sean Gleeson. The Scarlet Knights averaged 26.7 points a game in conference matchups – up from 5.7 the previous fall.

Early Call: Over

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With Temple, Syracuse and Delaware on tap in non-conference play, the Scarlet Knights have a good chance to get to 3-0 before the Big Ten opener at Michigan. With a crossover game versus Illinois and home dates against Michigan State and Maryland, we think Rutgers can get to 5-7.

West Division

Illinois

DraftKings O/U: 3.5

Bret Bielema inherits a program just one year removed from a bowl game, and a roster that features one of the better offensive lines in the Big Ten, along with a veteran quarterback in Brandon Peters.

Early Call: Over

The Fighting Illini open with toss-up games versus Nebraska and UTSA and catch swing matchups against Maryland and Rutgers in Champaign. There’s not a ton of upside here, but Illinois has enough roster talent and favorable games to get to four victories.

Iowa

DraftKings O/U: 8.5

The Hawkeyes started 0-2 but finished 2020 on a six-game winning streak. Contending for the West Division title hinges on development by quarterback Spencer Petras, along with reloading along the defensive line.

Early Call: Under

Under – but not by much – is our play here. With the losses up front on both sides of the ball, and the need to get better play out of Petras, 8-4 is the early call for Iowa’s win total.

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Minnesota

DraftKings O/U: 7

The limited 2020 season didn’t allow for the Golden Gophers to build on the 11-2 record from ’19. Pushing for double-digit victories again hinges on the offense after regressing from 34.1 to 27.3 points a game last year. Also, Minnesota’s defense has to take a big step forward after surrendering 6.9 a play in ’20.

Early Call: Pass

Seven is the right call in the early projections. Minnesota has toss-up road dates at Colorado, Northwestern and Indiana, and the question marks on both sides of the ball would push us to stay away from this total (for now).

Nebraska

DraftKings O/U: 6

Can Scott Frost get Nebraska to a bowl game for the first time in his tenure? To reach six wins, the Cornhuskers have to get quarterback Adrian Martinez back on track and continue to progress on defense.

Early Call: Pass

If Nebraska rebounds on offense, six (or seven) wins are within reach. This program has just one season of more than six victories since 2015. Hitting six wins seems about right for the Cornhuskers in ’21.

Related: Athlon Sports' College Football Top 25 for 2021

Northwestern

DraftKings O/U: 6

The Wildcats are losing a lot of talent from the 2020 squad that claimed the Big Ten West title. Only four starters are back on a standout defense, and the offense needs to identify playmakers on the outside and find a new quarterback.

Early Call: Over

Yes, Northwestern has a lot to replace. However, this is all about trust in coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff.

Purdue

DraftKings O/U: 5

After going 7-6 in his first year at Purdue, coach Jeff Brohm is just 12-19 over the last three seasons. A bowl game should be within reach this fall, but the Boilermakers need to improve a defense that allowed 29.8 points a game in 2020 and get consistent play from the quarterbacks.

Early Call: Pass

Non-conference games versus Oregon State and Notre Dame, combined with crossover matchups against Ohio State and Indiana don’t allow much room for error. Purdue could hit six victories, but this is too close to feel confident in a wager.

Wisconsin

DraftKings O/U: 9.5

Wisconsin’s offense stumbled last year due to injuries at receiver (and the unusual nature of the 2020 season), but there’s optimism for a rebound with coach Paul Chryst taking over the play-calling duties again, along with quarterback Graham Mertz’s development.

Early Call: Over

The Badgers are strong on defense and should improve on offense this fall. Chryst won at least 10 games in four of his first five years in Madison (2015-19). Most of the key games come at home, but a neutral site battle against Notre Dame might be key to hitting the win total. There are question marks to answer. However, we would bet on Wisconsin rebounding (in a big way) to get to 10-2 this fall.

Podcast: Big Ten Predictions and Preview for 2021