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Wisconsin & Penn State See Big Ten Championship Odds Shorten; Can They Dethrone Ohio State?

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in College Football

Updated Apr 15, 2020 · 8:21 AM PDT

Penn State
Is this the year Penn State finally dethrones Ohio State in the Big Ten? Photo from Wiki Commons.
  • Both Penn State (+1000 to +500) and Wisconsin (+900 to +450) are showing significantly lower betting lines in the latest Big Ten Conference championship odds
  • Are either the Nittany Lions or Badgers capable of dethroning -125 favorites Ohio State?
  • Analysis of the odds and picks on the outcome are assessed in the story below

Sports may be in drydock due to the COVID-19 outbreak but that hasn’t prevented Penn State and Wisconsin from making bold moves in the Big Ten championship odds.

Both the Nittany Lions and the Badgers were the benefactors of significantly improved betting lines in the latest Big Ten Conference Title odds.

Penn State jumped from an opening line of +1000 and the fourth betting choice to odds of +500 and #3 in the rankings. Wisconsin opened at +900 and were the third betting choice. The Badgers are now at odds of +450 and rate second overall in the Big Ten championship betting market.

The defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes remain the odds-on chalk to take the title but even their line has seen some alteration. Ohio State’s odds to win dipped from -225 to -125.

2020 Big Ten Championship Odds

School Odds
Ohio State -125
Wisconsin +450
Penn State +500
Michigan +600
Minnesota +1600
Iowa +2000
Indiana +2500
Nebraska +3300
Northwestern +10000
Purdue +10000
Michigan State +15000
Illinois +25000
Maryland +50000
Rutgers +100000

Odds taken April 14th

The biggest loser in the latest betting line was the Michigan Wolverines. Originally second in this betting market at odds of +350, the Wolverines faded to fourth overall at +600.

Don’t Sleep on Nittany Lions

Penn State comes off an 11-win season and their second New Year’s Six bowl game victory in three years. It was third time in four years that Penn State won at least 11 games. Road losses at Minnesota and Ohio State were the only blips for the Nittany Lions in 2019.

Head coach James Franklin revamped his staff of offensive assistants during the offseason, adding offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and line coach Phil Trautwein. Penn State also enjoyed a spectacular recruiting class. It includes three four-star wide receivers who could instantly contribute and fill a void on the roster.

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Quarterback Sean Clifford is back. He threw for 2,654 yards and 23 touchdowns. Penn State’s offense averaged 35.8 points per game last season. The Nittany Lions also may have the deepest crop of running backs in the nation, led by Journey Brown. He ran for at least 100 yards in four of Penn State’s last five games, highlights by a 202-yard effort that earned him Cotton Bowl offensive MVP honors.

Penn State figures to be 4-0 when arriving at Michigan for an Oct. 3rd game. Then follows a four-game gauntlet of Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana and Nebraska. That stretch will determine Penn State’s Big Ten fate.

Badgers Best In the West

Sure, Wisconsin will have to overcome the departure of sensational running back Jonathan Taylor but the combination of a deep cupboard of talent and a relatively favorable schedule should once again see the Badgers come out on top of the Big Ten West Division.

Like Penn State, Wisconsin faces an early-season test at Michigan on Sept. 26th. Win that one and the Badgers should roll. They avoid both Ohio State and Penn State in crossover games with the East Division, and get West rival Minnesota at home.

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There’s also a “neutral” site test against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field.

Jack Coan is a second-year starter at QB. Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek will seek to fill Taylor’s shoes. The Badgers’ defense allowed just 16.9 PPG last season. If Wisconsin suitably replaces departed linebackers Zack Baun and Chris Orr, head coach Paul Chryst’s defense will be just as dominant.

Hard to Find Other Contenders

Minnesota took advantage of a soft schedule last season to post a school-record 11-2 campaign. QB Tanner Morgan and his 30 TD passes are back to helm an offense that put up 34.1 PPG. However, the defense that checked opponents at 22.5 PPG lost five starters.

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The Golden Gophers will be good again this season. Just not 11-2 good.

In the East, Michigan is an annual enigma. The Wolverines possess a number of playmakers on offense but must find a QB to get the ball to them. And four of five starters are gone from the offensive line.

Difficult to Bet Against Buckeyes

Ohio State has won three straight Big Ten titles. In their first year under head coach Ryan Day, the Buckeyes went 9-0. That was their first unbeaten conference season since 2014.

Certainly, there were some key personnel losses. But departures never seem to derail the Ohio State football factory. Returning QB Justin Fields produced 51 TDs in 2019 and will be a Heisman Trophy favorite.

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The Big Ten title could come down to Oct. 24th. That’s when the Buckeyes visit Happy Valley to face the Nittany Lions.

The winner of that game should be Big Ten champions.

Pick: Ohio State (-125)

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