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Big Ten West 2018 Season Win Total Picks

I'm previewing the Power 5 conferences ahead of this college football season and I continue with the Big Ten West below. 

I take a look at season O/U win picks and give my betting thoughts on where I see value this season. You can also check out the Big Ten East division here

Also check out amazing Big Ten insight and season O/U picks from @RyanShuiling, who joined me on the podcast. 

Hit me up on Twitter on @JonnyOddsShark for your questions and comments and let me know what totals you like. 

Illinois 3.5

New OC Rod Smith has his work cut out for him with an offense that finished 127th in the nation in scoring and total offense. 

I’d like to tell you he’ll make a big difference with all the starters returning on the O-line but I don’t think so. Smith wants to spread the field with different formations and with two young QBs (Cam Thomas and MJ Rivers), I’m not so sure how that’s going to play out in Year 1. 

The Illini couldn’t stop the run last year either at 117th in the nation and you can’t live like that in the Big Ten. They were a costly bet at 4-8 ATS and are 25-35 ATS over the last five seasons. I don’t see them getting four wins in 2018.  

Iowa 7.5

The biggest strength for Iowa this year is its schedule. The Hawkeyes manage to avoid Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State and their first three games are against Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Northern Iowa, all at home. 

The schedule is enough to make me take the OVER, especially with a +130 price tag. But Iowa needs way more out of QB Nate Stanley who was a mix of awful and spectacular at times last season. Iowa plodded along too often and averaged just 329.5 yards per game (117th) despite having one of the best tight ends in the nation at 

The biggest worry is only four starters return on defense and all three starting senior linebackers from last season are gone. Two of them are at the DE position though and Kirk Ferentz seems to squeeze the most out of his teams. 

Watch for Iowa on the road where the Hawkeyes are 17-7 ATS over the last five seasons. 

Minnesota 5.5

I like this defense and I’m not crazy about this offense so Minnesota could be a nice UNDER bet this season. 

The Gophers are still adjusting to second-year head coach P.J. Fleck and his run-pass option offense, which isn’t helped by the fact he has two new QBs to break in (freshman Tanner Morgan and sophomore Vic Viramontes).  

This defense is strong at linebacker with two returning starters and three starting upper classmen. I always love strong linebacker play in this conference and I see this defense getting even better after ranking 11th in the nation against the pass last year. 

Ryan Schuiling loves the OVER here and convinced me it’s the right play on the podcast this week. Listen here and he’ll convince you too. 

Nebraska Cornhuskers 6.5

The Scott Frost era begins for the Huskers and this season O/U win total is a tad inflated as a result after the miracles he performed at UCF. 

Nebraska has to get back to blackshirt football after ranking worst in the Big Ten in total defense last season. They’ll go with a 3-4 system and have the benefit of all three starters returning on the D-line as well as two at linebacker. 

The offense needs work all around, especially with the run game, and I’m not sure we’ll see that improve this year. Stanley Morgan Jr. is one of the best receivers in the Big Ten though with a school record 961 yards in 2017, so there is that. 

The Corndogs were the worst bet at home in the nation last season at 0-7 against the spread and that is just unacceptable in Lincoln. Spreads can be inflated for Nebraska at home where they are just 13-21 ATS over the past five seasons and 71-75-4 ATS going back to 1995.   

Northwestern Wildcats 6.5

There are high hopes for this Wildcats team that was the best bet in the Big Ten last year at 9-3 ATS and straight up. 

Senior QB Clayton Thorson leads the charge coming off an ACL tear in bowl season and I think this offense could be outstanding this year. Gone is leading rusher Justin Jackson but in comes Jeremy Larkin, who had 6.0 yards per carry last season and could be special. The O-line returns four starters and Northwestern is the kind of offense that can air it out or grind it out on the ground. 

If the defense can stand up, I like these guys to easily clear 6.5 wins. Betting note: Keep in mind Northwestern tends to be an OVER team on the road (14-10-1 O/U last five seasons) and UNDER team at home (8-25-2 O/U last five seasons). 

Purdue 6.5

Purdue was a sneaky good bet last season at 8-4 ATS and a solid UNDER bet also at 3-9 O/U. 

I think they might cover some spreads again this year but things will even out on the totals. The defense won’t surprise anyone after jumping from 117th in scoring D in 2016 to 24th last season and oddsmakers won’t be caught off guard again. 

Jeff Brohm has done good things for the Boilers but I didn’t like how he handled the QBs last year, bouncing between David Blough and Elijah Sindelar. To me, Blough is the better quarterback and he should stick with him although I know turnovers can be an issue. Both guys are coming off bad injuries last season though so we’ll see how their health holds up. 

I can see Purdue being a kind of darling team for bettors this year so just watch for bloated numbers. They could be a better bet on the road where they are 15-8-2 ATS over the last five seasons compared to 13-21-1 ATS at home. 

Wisconsin 9.5

Ten of 11 starters return and it shouldn’t be a huge surprise the Badge has moved to the second favorite to win the Big Ten at +400. And for good reason. 

No surprise either, that that OVER 9.5 wins is getting more expensive all the time (-160) and it’s only going to go up. I love the OVER here. Basically everyone returns on an offense that can run or pass on you including the entire O-line, QB Alex Hornibrook, oh and don’t forget Heisman favorite Jonathan Taylor. 

The defense is the question mark with eight starters gone but Paul Chryst seems to be able to build a stout unit every year. We could see Wisconsin be an OVER team early on as the defense adjusts. 

Wisconsin has been a solid bet at 36-26 ATS over the last five years, especially as a favorite at 31-22-1 ATS. Still, I’m a little stumped here on the season O/U. 
 

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