Could there be a changing of the guard in the Big Ten? Urban Meyer is hanging it up and it's Ryan Day leading Ohio State now. Meanwhile in Ann Arbor, Michigan hopes that this is the year Jim Harbaugh takes this team to new heights. The Wolverines cannot continue to lose to their archrivals especially as they bring more talent in. Over in the West division, there's been some roster turnover too. Should be a fun year in the Big Ten.
Time to take a look at what Caesars out of Las Vegas thinks about this conference.
Big Ten East Division
Over 6 wins -200...Under 6 wins +175
Non-Conference Games: Ball State, Eastern Illinois, UConn
The Hoosiers should win all three non-conference games pretty easily, which they need considering their first Big Ten game is against Ohio State and they have road dates against Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, and Purdue to contend with. Indiana has 15 starters back led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey and running back Stevie Scott. Ramsey could get pushed by another QB on the roster but whoever is out there will have plenty of options to throw to. With so much experience and firepower, Indiana should be able to eclipse last season's scoring output (26.4 ppg). The defense took a step back last year but has the talent on each level to redound. Bryant Fitzgerald had three INT's last year. If IU's defense improves a bowl game could be in the mix.
Verdict: I came up with six wins so no play.
Over 3.5 wins -145...Under 3.5 wins +125
Non-Conference Games: Howard, Syracuse, at Temple
The Terrapins were 4-2 early in the 2018 campaign and then the bottom dropped out with just one win the rest of the year. The first place to look is under center where it is expected that Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson will take the reins. Anthony McFarland Jr. had more than 1,000 rushing yards as a freshman. The offense returns just three starters so new head coach Mike Locksley has a lot of work to do. The defense has just four starters back so there could be some issues on that side of the ball as well. Maryland draws both Ohio State and Michigan State on the road. Don't expect a bowl game here.
Verdict: At a plus price, I'd consider the under here. I came up with three or four wins.
Over 10.5 wins +160...Under 10.5 wins -185
Non-Conference Games: Middle Tennessee, Army, Notre Dame
If there was any year for Jim Harbaugh to really break through and put together a special season in Ann Arbor, this could be it. He's struggled against the big rivals and he gets all three of them (Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State) at home this season. Shea Patterson is back to run the offense and he has a full complement of WRs including Donovan-Peoples Jones, Tarik Black and Nico Collins. The backfield is a bit of a mystery following the departure of Chris Evans. The defense was ravaged by defections, but coordinator Don Brown still has plenty of pieces to work with.
Verdict: I agree with the money move on the under here.
Over 8 wins -130....Under 8 wins +110
Non-Conference Games: Tulsa, Western Michigan, Arizona State
The Spartans stumbled down the stretch last season, finishing things by losing three of their final four games. There's a chance for a really hot start in 2019 with three straight and four of their first five at home. This team is a sneaky sleeper in the Big Ten with 17 starters returning. Road trips to Ohio State and Michigan will be pivotal. Brian Lewerke is expected by many to bounce back after an injury-plagued campaign and he has plenty of wide receivers to throw to and an offensive line that returns four starters. The defense will go as far as the front line takes it. Mike Panasiuk and Raequan Williams will be tough up front with Kenny Willekes applying the pressure. Watch out for Sparty.
Verdict: I got eight wins here so solid number.
Over 10 wins -135...Under 10 wins +115
Non-Conference Games: Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio)
Urban Meyer is gone now and Ryan Day takes over. He went 3-0 as interim coach in 2018. Justin Fields gets the keys to the offense after transferring from Georgia. J.K. Dobbins is back at running back to enhance his draft status. The offensive line could be a little bit of a work in progress with just one starter back. The defense is going to be strong with nine starters returning. At times, this side of the ball struggled last season. The Buckeyes' toughest conference road trip is to Michigan so that should help their chances of defending their Big Ten crown.
Verdict: Real solid number here as I came up with 10 wins.
Over 8.5 wins +120...Under 8.5 wins -140
Non-Conference Games: Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh
Penn State is following suit with a lot of the other teams in the conference as their first three games are at home along with four of their first five. The Nittany Lions need to answer the quarterback question with Trace McSorley leaving and Tommy Stevens opting to transfer to Mississippi State. Sophomore Sean Clifford looks to be the answer and he'll have wide receiver KJ Hamler to throw to. Ricky Slade will get the chance to be the next productive Penn State running back and should have the benefit of running behind a serviceable offensive line. The defense should be pretty good with returning starters at all levels. Their season could be made or missed in October when the Nittany Lions play at Iowa then host Michigan before heading to East Lansing.
Verdict: I've got nine wins for the Nittany Lions which means I'd consider the over especially at a plus price.
Over 2.5 wins -150...Under 2.5 wins +130
Non-Conference Games: UMass, Boston College, Liberty
Quite the array of non-conference games for the guys out of New Jersey. It could also be their best chance for victories this year. Rutgers has 11 starters back but this team needs to take significant steps forward on both sides of the ball if they want to win many games. Artur Sitkowski is back under center with Raheem Blackshear in the backfield and Bo Melton out wide. The defense got four sacks last year from Elorm Lumor and Mike Tverdov and struggled mightily when it came to stopping the run. There's not a lot to say here other then it could be another really long season for head coach Chris Ash.
Verdict: Slight lean to the over, only because I think they win three games. You could make a case for the under though.
Big Ten West Division
Over 4 wins -110...Under 4 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: Akron, at UConn, Eastern Michigan
The hire of Lovie Smith hasn't quite worked out, as the Illini are 9-27 record in his first three seasons. This year probably won't be that much better with questions at quarterback, among other positions. Those expected to compete for the starting job include redshirt freshmen Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor, true freshman Isaiah Williams, and Michigan graduate transfer Brandon Peters. Quarterback questions aside, Illinois should be able to run the ball effectively once again with Reggie Corbin and Mike Epstein leading the way behind an offensive line that returns four starters. Smith has taken over as defensive coordinator and has eight returning starters to work with. Illini will miss defensive end Bobby Roundtree, whose playing career is on hold after suffering a spinal injury while swimming in May.
Verdict: I've got four wins for the Illini.
Over 7.5 wins -155...Under 7.5 wins +135
Non-Conference Games: Miami (Ohio), at Iowa State, Middle Tennessee
Iowa got off to a 6-1 start last season before losing three in a row. The Hawkeyes then turned things around and finished by winning their final three, including the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State. They've got their most important position taken care of with Nate Stanley who is as solid as they come under center. His top three running backs from last year are back, but his top three receivers are gone including pair of first-round NFL draft picks at tight end. Finding a new security blanket will be imperative. On defense, A.J. Epenesa and Chauncey Golston form a great duo up front. Epensea had 10.5 sacks last season. Iowa plays at Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern.
Verdict: I came up with seven wins so the under is worth a look here at this price.
Over 7.5 wins -150...Under 7.5 wins +130
Non-Conference Games: South Dakota State, at Fresno State, Georgia Southern
P.J. Fleck is 12-13 in two years leading the Gophers but the team has some momentum after beating Wisconsin on the road and Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl to finish last season. There are 16 starters back so this may be the year Minnesota takes a step forward. The top five rushers and three wide receivers are back so the offense could crack the 30 points per game mark, as long as the quarterback play is solid. The defense lost its top two tacklers but has Antoine Winfield Jr. back at safety to stabilize the secondary. Gophers also avoid Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in Big Ten play.
Verdict: I agree with the money move on the over.
Over 8.5 wins -110...Under 8.5 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: South Alabama, at Colorado, Northern Illinois
A horrendous 0-6 start gave way to an encouraging 4-2 finish in Scott Frost's first year. Adrian Martinez is back to lead the offense and he should have plenty of weapons at his disposal. The offensive line is a bigger question mark with just two returning starters. The Huskers also are looking to find a defensive identity. Coordinator Erik Chinander has five starters back and is hoping a couple of new faces are able to make an impact. This could be an interesting year for the Big Red.
Verdict: I came up with eight or nine wins so no play.
Over 6 wins -125...Under 6 wins +105
Non-Conference Games: at Stanford, UNLV, UMass
Northwestern has five of their final seven contests at home so if the Wildcats can get past the early part, then they may be able to finish really strong. The offense could be in good hands with Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson under center. Johnson was a five-star recruit in the 2016 class. Luckily, he's got Isaiah Bowser in the backfield. Johnson does have to find new targets with Flynn Nagel and Cameron Green no longer on the roster. The defense is led by Joe Gaziano up front with one of the nation's top linebacking corps anchoring the middle. Special teams play has to be better if the Wildcats want to have any chance at defending their Big Ten West title.
Verdict: I love the over here as I came up with eight wins.
Over 7 wins -110...Under 7 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: at Nevada, Vanderbilt, TCU
Purdue has a pair of non-conference games against Power 5 competition, which is rare for the Big Ten. Last year featured an 0-3 start followed by a four-game winning streak, including the big upset of Ohio State. Jeff Brohm is one of the hottest names in coaching and this offense could be explosive even with just four starters returning. Rondale Moore is one of the nation's top playmakers but the key could be how quarterback Elijah Sindelar handles running the show. The Boilermakers return virtually everyone on defense. They've got a fierce front line that only got better with the addition of highly touted freshman George Karlaftis. Purdue doesn't have to worry about facing Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State either.
Verdict: No play here as I come up with seven wins.
Over 8 wins EVEN...Under 8 wins -120
Non-Conference Games: at South Florida, Central Michigan, Kent State
After an intriguing opener against a potential sleeper team in USF, Wisconsin has five straight at home. The Badgers host Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa in conference play. Alex Hornibrook is gone so that means Jack Coan likely gets the nod at quarterback unless true freshman Graham Mertz gets the call. Whoever it is will spend a lot of time handing it off to Jonathan Taylor, who is coming off of a 2,194-yard, 16-TD campaign. The offensive line only brings back one starter, which is not typical of Wisconsin teams. The defense has some areas of concern too with just five starters back and questions up front and at linebacker.
Verdict: I came up with eight wins so no play.
— 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.