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Examining the Over/Under 2018 Win Totals for the Big Ten

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh

The Big Ten will be a fun conference to watch this year with the usual teams fighting at the top while several others in the middle try to edge their way in. Scott Frost is going to try to get Nebraska back where it belongs while Jim Harbaugh tries to keep himself off a seat that may or may not be hot right now.

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This article will take a look at every team's win total provided by the South Point Casino sports book in Las Vegas. I'll have an opinion on every team but not necessarily a play when it comes to the over/under. The casinos are very strong with their numbers for the larger conference teams. If you read the Big 12 preview, there were a lot of no opinions because of strong numbers.

Big Ten East Division

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Indiana Hoosiers

Over 5 wins -130...Under 5 wins +110

Non-Conference Games: at FIU, Virginia, Ball State

Tom Allen's team had their chances in close losses at Michigan State and Maryland last year. His offense should be strong once again especially should the quarterback position stabilize. The wide receiving corps will be really productive. This team could be in a lot of shootouts with a defense that has to replace eight starters. The Hoosiers also have an interesting mix of non-conference games. Indiana is going to threaten for a bowl spot if certain things break its way.

Verdict: The money move is a correct one here. I agree with the over because there are a bunch of winnable home games for Indiana. I won't play it at this price though. Not worth it.

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Maryland Terrapins

Over 5 wins +105...Under 5 wins -125

Non-Conference Games: vs. Texas, at Bowling Green, Temple

The Terrapins need a season without the quarterback position being ravaged by injuries. They have some decent candidates this year, but really it's going to be the stable of running backs that help make the offense go. The front line figures to open up plenty of holes for them and protect the signal-caller. Maryland's 2017 season started out with a win over Texas on the road and I don't know if this year's version can beat the Longhorns once again.

Verdict: This team needs to get the wins early if you have any hope for the over. Maryland closes out with Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State as three of its final four opponents. I lean to the under. 

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Michigan

Michigan Wolverines

Over 9 wins -135...Under 9 wins +115

Non-Conference Games: at Notre Dame, Western Michigan, SMU

The Wolverines got an offseason gift when the NCAA ruled that quarterback Shea Patterson is immediately eligible following his transfer from Ole Miss. If the Wolverines get their offense going, they will be really tough to stop. The defense was one of the nation's best last year and returns eight starters this fall. Michigan plays at Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State while hosting Penn State.

Verdict: The price for the under is almost too good to pass up especially with the tough road contests. Northwestern could be a potential banana peel game too. At this price, I'm going to be on the under.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Michigan State

Michigan State Spartans

Over 9 wins +110....Under 9 wins -130

Non-Conference Games: Utah State, at Arizona State, Central Michigan

It's an odd schedule with their bye coming in week three and only five road games. One of those is an odd road trip to Arizona State. Mark Dantonio's bunch is returning 19 starters including QB Brian Lewerke and RB LJ Scott. The Spartans have a very good chance to represent the East in the conference title game. Sparty is out to prove that they can compete with Ohio State. You can always count on MSU being good defensively.

Verdict: Much like the rival Wolverines, at this price you have to consider the over. Two of Michigan State's three toughest games are at home. At worst we could see a push, but at best this team goes over the 9. 

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes

Over 10.5 wins -115...Under 10.5 wins -105

Non-Conference Games: Oregon State, vs. TCU, Tulane

Ohio State travels to Penn State and Michigan State while hosting Michigan. The offense is going to be really strong with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber leading the way at running back. Most teams would not feel as good about five returning starters on defense, but Urban Meyer's recruiting at a really high level, so losing players doesn't scare him. This team is a prime candidate for one of those four playoff spots. 

Verdict: The number doesn't leave us a lot of wiggle room if you like the over. To me, your opinion on this win total is if you think that OSU will lose to both Penn State and Michigan State on the road. 

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Penn State

Penn State Nittany Lions

Over 9.5 wins -105...Under 9.5 wins -115

Non-Conference Games: Appalachian State, at Pittsburgh, Kent State

Trace McSorley is back under center for the Nittany Lions, but he's going to be without the majority of their skill position guys from last year. Saquon Barkley is gone and he took some of the heat off McSorley. The defense has just two starters back and will be tested. Hard to believe, but the offensive line will finally be a strength after years of being a liability. PSU has the friendliest home conference slate with Ohio State and Michigan State coming to Happy Valley.

Verdict: I've got nine wins for the Nittany Lions. While they get the better teams at home, there's a chance they could slip up at Pittsburgh or Indiana.

College football rankings: Rutgers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Over 4 wins -130...Under 4 wins +110

Non-Conference Games: Texas State, at Kansas, Buffalo

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One of the most fascinating (trainwreck) games of the 2018 season will be Rutgers vs. Kansas. Two Power 5 schools that should really consider dropping football playing is one not to miss. Picking up Boston College graduate transfer Jon Hilliman will help the offense as he's been a consistent running back. The defense could be better than it has the past few years with eight returnees and some talent waiting in the wings.  

Verdict: The price for the under is fantastic. Rutgers has Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State in November and a sleepy game against Buffalo in late September. I absolutely love the Bulls this season.

Big Ten West Division

College Football Rankings: Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini

Over 4 wins +115...Under 4 wins -135

Non-Conference Games: Kent State, Western Illinois, vs. South Florida

The move to hire Lovie Smith certainly didn't pay off in Year 2 after a 2-10 season that saw the Illini close on a 10-game losing streak. Smith has just five wins in two seasons at the school. Running back Mike Epstein and wide receiver Mike Dudek are solid pieces to build around on offense, but there's not a lot else around them. The defense doesn't inspire much confidence despite the fact that the unit has seven returning starters. It'll be another rebuilding year for this program.

Verdict: The most I see for this team is three wins with a small chance at four if things break right. The money move is right.

College Football Rankings: Iowa Football

Iowa Hawkeyes

Over 7.5 wins -105...Under 7.5 wins -115

Non-Conference Games: Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa

Iowa is at home the first full month of the season and doesn't have a true road game until week six when the Hawkeyes travel to Minnesota. After that bye the team plays four of five on the road and five of the final eight games away from home. The offense and defense figure to be really strong this year. Nathan Stanley is back at quarterback and he had 26 touchdowns to just six interceptions last year. Tight end Noah Fant is going to be busy once again as he was a focal point of the passing attack in 2017. There are some serious questions on defense.

Verdict: I think the over is worth a look, but i'm not that confident in it.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers

Over 6 wins EVEN...Under 6 wins -120

Non-Conference Games: New Mexico State, Fresno State, Miami (Ohio)

P.J. Fleck had a rough first year in Minnesota as the Golden Gophers went 5-7 and won just two Big Ten games. He has 13 total starters returning and an offense that will be led by running back Rodney Smith. The defense has a mix of solid youth and veteran leadership so this unit should be able to build off of last year's success. The schedule lines up nicely for the team to potentially threaten for a bowl berth.

Verdict: Pretty solid number here as I come up with six wins. 

Nebraska's college football logo

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Over 6.5 wins -105...Under 6.5 wins -115

Non-Conference Games: Akron, Colorado, Troy

Scott Frost has a lot of work to do here as the team is coming off a four-win season and had been falling behind the other teams in the conference in recruiting. Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman are a solid wide receiver duo, but the question marks start at quarterback. The defense, which returns seven starters, may have to carry the load in certain games until the offense picks things up. 

Verdict: This is a pretty solid number as I've come up with 6-7 wins for the Huskers. It all depends on if you think they can beat Michigan State at home in mid-November.  

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Northwestern Wildcats

Over 6 wins -130...Under 6 wins +110

Non-Conference Games: Duke, Akron, Notre Dame

The loss of running back Justin Jackson will hurt the offense as he left as the school's leading rusher. This means a little more pressure for Clayton Thorson, who has a decent group of receivers to work with but is returning from a torn ACL. Northwestern's defense has 10 of the top 14 tacklers back. We'll see how the Wildcats do early as they are one of the few teams that open in conference play (at Purdue). Michigan, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all come to Evanston.

Verdict: The public is correct once again putting money on the over. I came up with seven wins and that was with a loss against a team you probably wouldn't think Northwestern would lose to.

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Purdue Boilermakers

Over 6 wins -110...Under 6 wins -110

Non-Conference Games: Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Boston College

Jeff Brohm instilled some energy in this program and turned that momentum into a seven wins, including a victory in the Foster Farms Bowl. The offense could be even better with eight returning starters and a really good group of running backs to rely on. I really like the potential this offense could show. The issues will come up defensively where only four starters return. This team will have to win a lot of shootouts if Purdue wants to take another step forward. 

Verdict: No play here as I come up with six wins. 

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers

Over 10 wins +110...Under 10 wins -130

Non-Conference Games: Western Kentucky, New Mexico, BYU

Wisconsin's schedule features just five road games and a horribly weak non-conference schedule to start out the year. Some think that running back Jonathan Taylor is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate after posting nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is back too and while he won't be asked to do as much with Taylor keeping defenses busy, he needs to cut down on the mistakes (15 INTs). The defense has just three returning starters so there may be some early growing pains. 

Verdict: I agree with the money move to the under. I think nine wins is realistic with a couple of tough road games in conference. The Badgers could trip up at Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan and/or Penn State.

-- Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.