Michigan was in the headlines a ton this offseason with Jim Harbaugh globetrotting around the United States with his satellite camps. The Wolverines now have to try to get headlines for their on the field work. They’ve got their work cut out for them in the Big Ten's East Division with another stout Ohio State team back to go the College Football Playoff, as well as defending B1G champion Michigan State. The bottom half of the conference features a different type of race with Maryland and Rutgers likely to bring up the rear.
Related: Big Ten Football 2016 Predictions
The win totals have been released by one sportsbook in Las Vegas. When considering what side I like, I break them down into wins, tossups and losses. Most conference road games are going to be considered losses unless the team is awful. I’ll give my leans and selections for every squad.
Note: Over/under odds courtesy of South Point Casino
Big Ten East
(Over 4.5 wins -110...Under 4.5 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 6-7, 2-6
Returning Starters: 13 (6 on offense, 7 on defense)
Offense: Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard are gone from last year’s offense that led the conference in scoring at 36.5 points per game. Whoever wins the job under center will have Ricky Jones, Simmie Cobbs and Mitchell Paige to throw to. The offensive line returns almost intact from 2015.
Defense: This side of the ball continues to pose problems for the Hoosiers. Pretty much the entire secondary returns, but keep in mind this Indiana finished second to last in the nation in passing defense (313.8 ypg) in 2015. New coordinator Tom Allen will have a tough task revitalizing this group.
Schedule: Indiana gets a tricky road game at FIU to begin the year before hosting Ball State, Wake Forest and Michigan State. There are some potholes later with road tilts against Ohio State and Michigan, but the home conference slate isn't too bad.
Selection: I lean to the over for the Hoosiers even though I think they lose week one to FIU. They ended their bowl drought last year, but may start a new one in 2016.
(Over 4.5 wins +110...Under 4.5 wins -130)
Record Last Year: 3-9, 1-7
Returning Starters: 10 (5 on offense, 5 on defense)
Offense: Perry Hills is back under center and he accounted for 11 touchdowns last year. The running back group has Wes Brown, Ty Johnson and Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmunds. Wide receiver shouldn’t be an issue either. The problem comes up front.
Defense: Will Likely is back and he’s an All-Big Ten cornerback and special teams dynamo. Likely will have all new running mates in the secondary though. The defense was gashed regularly in 2015, allowing 30 or more points eight times. This unit has a lot of work to do.
Schedule: The Terrapins host Howard before road trips to FIU and UCF. Their toughest stretch is three road games in five weeks to close out the season. Ohio State and Michigan State both come to College Park, but it’s likely not going to matter
Selection: At the +110 price, the over is the play here. The Terps will struggle, but there are winnable games here. New head coach D.J. Durkin will have his work cut out for him as Maryland still is behind in the talent race.
(Over 10 wins -110...Under 10 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 10-3, 6-2
Returning Starters: 14 (8 on offense, 6 on defense)
Offense: The pieces are there for a potent offense with Amara Darboh, Jake Butt, Jehu Chesson and De’Veon Smith as weapons. Quarterback John O’Korn comes over from Houston representing the second straight year with a transfer under center for Harbaugh and the Wolverines.
Defense: Don Brown, who led Boston College to a No. 1 ranking in total defense last year, is now in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have moved Jabrill Peppers from safety to linebacker in year two. Jourdan Lewis is a very good corner with Chris Wormley clogging up the middle.
Schedule: Michigan doesn’t leave home the first five weeks of the season and has just four road games overall. The problem is that two of those matchups not in the Big House are against Michigan State and Ohio State.
Selection: Ten wins seems about right for Michigan. The Wolverines may be more talented than both the Buckeyes and Spartans, but it’ll be tough winning both of those on the road.
(Over 7.5 wins -130...Under 7.5 wins +110)
Record Last Year: 12-2, 7-1
Returning Starters: 9 (4 on offense, 5 on defense)
Offense: New starting quarterback Tyler O’Connor has some big shoes to fill with Connor Cook moving on. O’Connor is going to have to rely on a ground game featuring LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London. The WR corps needs a complete rebuild.
Defense: Shilique Calhoun is gone, but Malik McDowell is back and he’s just as nasty. Riley Bullough patrols the middle while the secondary is led by Demetrious Cox.
Schedule: The Spartans have 15 days to prepare for a week two trip to South Bend. They also play host to Furman and BYU. It’s a very home friendly slate with three of the final four games in East Lansing.
Selection: To me the over might be one of the best plays on the board. Head coach Mark Dantonio always gets the best from his kids and this schedule is not that tough at all. Michigan State gets the majority of its tough games at home. Take the over.
(Over 9.5 wins +105...Under 9.5 wins -125)
Record Last Year: 12-1, 7-1
Returning Starters: 6 (3 on offense, 3 on defense)
Offense: Urban Meyer’s recruiting is going to come into play here with J.T. Barrett at quarterback surrounded with a lot of question marks. Curtis Samuel returns with 22 catches from 2015. The offensive line has the other two returnees.
Defense: Raekwon McMillan quarterbacks this side of the ball, which also features a lot of holes. Tyquan Lewis had eight sacks last year. Several sophomores and juniors will be called upon in 2016.
Schedule: The Buckeyes host Bowling Green and Tulsa before a road matchup against Oklahoma. After that they play home and road games in groups of two. The toughest combination being at Michigan State before hosting Michigan to close out the year.
Selection: I like the over as I think nine wins is quite possible. Ohio State won’t win in week two in Norman against Oklahoma, and Meyer's team probably splits road dates against Wisconsin and Penn State. This will be a stiff test for these Buckeyes to pull it all together and get into the Playoff.
(Over 6.5 wins -110...Under 6.5 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 7-6, 4-4
Returning Starters: 14 (9 on offense, 5 on defense)
Offense: Trace McSorley takes over for Christian Hackenberg under center. McSorley gets lead rusher Saquon Barkley back as well as a stacked WR group led by DaeSean Hamilton. The offensive line needs to improve after having an awful time last year.