2023 Big Ten football may be the strongest its been in a long time. In recent years, the clear one-two punch atop the college football world has been SEC powers Georgia and Alabama. Now, both Penn State and Wisconsin are expected to be real national contenders with mainstays Michigan and Ohio State pushing the Big Ten into rarified air. In its last year before further expansion, the B1G offers plenty of intrigue. Welcome to our college football betting guide for Big Ten odds in 2023.
You can expect to find win totals, conference futures odds, contenders in Heisman odds, and a preview for all 14 teams. Also check out the Big Ten All-Transfer team and the notable coaching and coordinator hires this offseason. Get comfortable, because we’re taking a deep dive into all things Big Ten football.
Big Ten Odds: To Win The Conference
Compare Big Ten odds from the best sports betting sites below.
A Two (And A Half) Horse Race?
In spite of back-to-back conference titles and returning the eighth-most production nationally (77%), the Michigan Wolverines are not the consensus favorite to win the Big Ten in 2023. That goes to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who must replace a top draft pick at QB and play the decisive rivalry game with Michigan in Ann Arbor. That’s not to overlook a third horse in this year’s race, the Penn State Nittany Lions, who come off a Rose Bowl victory and rise a promising five-star QB and plenty of talent.
The next big chunk on the Big Ten odds board is the usual cluster of West division teams: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Nebraska. Three of those teams underwent major shakeups, with Wisconsin and Nebraska bringing in an entirely new coaching staff. Illinois lost a handful of NFL Draft choices, namely fifth overall pick Devon Witherspoon, and their defensive coordinator.
But, like with most years, the Big Ten East reigns supreme. At least, for this year.
Big Ten Odds: Projected Wins, Win Totals
Projected wins below are derived from aggregate power ratings, including SP+, FPI, and more. Win totals are pulled from FanDuel Sportsbook as of June 22.
|Team||Proj. Wins||Win Total||Price|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||10.9||10.5||-115/-105|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||9.8||9.5||-138/+112|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||6.7||7.5||+134/-164|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||6.6||6.5||-118/-104|
|Michigan State Spartans||6.2||5.5||+118/-144|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||3.9||3.5||-152/+124|
Big Ten Power Ratings
Table Key (all ranks except power rankings are national):
– Rank (Power ranking, national)
– Proj. Wins (Projected total wins)
– Return (Returning production, total)
– Ret. O (returning offensive production)
– Ret. D (returning defensive production)
– PPD (Points per drive scored)
– PPDA (Points per drive allowed)
– L5 (Last five years recruiting average, national)
Big Ten Odds: The Favorites
Ohio State Buckeyes
Despite turning over at the quarterback position, Ohio State remains a favorite not just on Big Ten odds boards, but on college football playoff odds boards. They return the nation’s best receiving room – a truly all-time unit up there with 2019 Alabama – led by All American Marvin Harrison Jr. Harrison Jr. would be the best friend of any rising quarterback, but particularly five-star Kyle McCord, who played with Harrison at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia. That history of chemistry should help McCord get off to a fast start.
But the room doesn’t end at Harrison Jr. Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming return (both five-star prospects) alongside stud tight end Cade Stover and receiving back threat TreVeyon Henderson. Who suits up at QB is almost inconsequential given the embarrassment of riches surrounding him.
However, the pressure is on for head coach Ryan Day. Ohio State is on a losing streak to arch-rival Michigan and has majorly failed to reach National Championship expectations. Day made changes to the offense, at least in theory, handing the keys to Brian Hartline. The offensive line must replace top NFL talent, but return a pair of All America candidates in Matthew Jones and Donovan Jackson. That unit is critical to the success of this team.
Defensively, the Buckeyes hope to take a step forward from last year. JT Tuimoloau is rising as a star along the defensive line and Tommy Eichenburg earned All American honors at linebacker. However, the secondary was a liability, despite being led by young talent Denzel Burke. A pair of transfers – Ja’Had Carter and Davison Igbinosun – on the back end should shore things up.
Ohio State plays a tough schedule (15th nationally). They visit Notre Dame and Michigan while handling Penn State at home. They should be favored in almost every game this season (save at Michigan), most by double digits.
The balance of power in the Big Ten has shifted. Michigan returns this season with back-to-back Big Ten titles, back-to-back CFP appearances, but most importantly back-to-back victories over Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh has finally unlocked the Wolverines and turned them into a perennial power. So it’s no surprise Go Blue is near the top of the Big Ten odds.
What makes Michigan so dangerous this season is they boast all those accolades while returning the eighth-most production in the nation and bolstering their roster with a top-25 transfer class. QB J.J. McCarthy is a Heisman contender, as are both running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. The former was a locked Heisman finalist until he suffered a late-season injury. Last year, Michigan ranked third nationally in yards per rush (5.6) and 11th in rush EPA.
Michigan adds three potential starters on the offensive line – all of which were coveted top-15 players at their position – headlined by LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State). The Wolverines boast an offense as talented and experienced as anyone in the country.
Defensively, Michigan may improve on its top-five unit from a season ago. They add Coastal Carolina stud pass rusher Josiah Stewart and return four of their starters in their front six. DB Mike Sainstril became an immediate hero, effectively shutting the door on Ohio State last November.
Perhaps the Wolverines’ best asset is their 53rd-ranked strength of schedule – fourth-easiest in the Big Ten. Factor in two games on the slate come against Ohio State and Penn State, and Michigan has one of the most favorable schedules in the conference.
Big Ten Odds: The Other Favorite
Penn State Nittany Lions
Maybe it’s redundant to include Penn State here instead of below under “contenders,” but the Nittany Lions really sit in a tier of their own. They return a terrific cast of running backs, headlined by Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Their offensive line should be among the nation’s best, ranking 14th in Phil Steele’s preseason unit rankings. Olu Fashanu is a top-five NFL prospect and will shore up the blindside tackle spot.
Penn State returns 74% of a defense that finished inside the top-10 in points per drive last season. Led by stud corner Kalen King and All Conference candidate Abdul Carter at linebacker, this unit again should be one of the Big Ten’s best.
But the real excitement stems from rising five-star QB Drew Allar. Allar benefits from a year learning the system from the sidelines, one of the nation’s top offensive lines, and added talent at receiver in the portal, namely Dante Cephas (Kent State) and Malik McClain (Florida State). Few first-time starting QBs have quite the beneficial setup that Allar does, giving him real promise this season.
Coming off a Rose Bowl victory, Penn State should be eyeing another 10-win season. Keep an eye out. Some books will offer Big 10 odds on 10+ wins. We’ll see if PSU can handle Michigan at home, which leads into the Ohio State game with a bye week and a layup against UMass in between.
Big Ten Odds: The Contenders
It’s a new era in Madison, one that will drastically change the identity of Wisconsin football. Luke Fickell comes to town as a splash hire and with him comes UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo. After years of being known as an under-center team that runs the ball against eight-man boxes, the Badgers are in for some serious modernization. Longo led UNC to three straight top-25 offenses in points per drive and helped turn Sam Howell and Drake Maye into Heisman contenders.
Players bought in, too. SMU star QB Tanner Mordecai decided to play one more season in college and transferred to Wisconsin. Behind him is touted four-star Nick Evers, who transfers in from Oklahoma. Bruising running back Braelon Allen returns, citing his excitement for no longer having to run into eight- and nine-man boxes. Although a typical OL factory, only two starters return up front and coach Bob Bostad does not.
Eight starters on defense also return despite the turnover at DC from beloved Jim Leonhard. Following up a 7-6 season, Wisconsin projects for 9.1 wins in 2023 and their win total agrees, with a juiced over on 8.5 wins (opened 9). If they can handle Ohio State and Iowa at home, Iowa would have the inside track to a spot in Indianapolis this December.
The 2023 offseason was perhaps the noisiest in Iowa football history. Public details on a revised contract for Brian Ferentz turned the spotlight on the Hawkeyes and teed them up for a month’s worth of internet jokes. Iowa finished an abysmal 121st in points per drive, which was actually an improvement on where they began the year. Fortunately, they ranked first in points per drive allowed, propelling them to a winning season.
Given that Kirk Ferentz‘s son Brian is still in town, there’s not much reason to believe 2023 will be any different. They add Michigan QB Cade McNamara in the portal, but lost most of their viable receivers. Top rusher Kaleb Johnson and all five starters on the offensive line return to the team. However, until the system changes, Iowa will likely rank in the bottom third of scoring offenses nationally.
Nothing should change much defensively, either. They rise All America candidate Cooper DeJean at corner and landed All-ACC linebacker Nick Jackson in the transfer portal from Virginia. The expectation is clear for this unit: Excellence.
Iowa plays the easiest schedule in the Big Ten and fourth-easiest schedule in the Power Five. They play road games at Penn State and Wisconsin, but avoid Ohio State and Michigan and play no teams that finished with a winning record in non-conference games.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Keep the pronunciation guide handy for rising QB Athan Kaliakmanis. As a freshman last season, Kaliakmanis was thrust into his first start on the road at Penn State for their annual whiteout game. A 45-17 beatdown says all you need to know about how that went. But, later in the season, he threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns to topple Wisconsin in Madison.
Though the staples of Minnesota football are gone – Mo Ibrahim, Tanner Morgan, John Michael Schmitz – the Gophers did a nice job getting talent in the transfer portal. In comes 1,000-yard rusher Sean Tyler from Western Michigan and All-AAC receiver Elijah Spencer from Charlotte. Overall, just 53% of production returns, 112th in the country.
Minnesota also turns over an offensive coordinator, promoting Greg Harbaugh to co-OC. A non-conference game at North Carolina and draws of both Michigan and Ohio State this season give the Gophers the fifth-toughest schedule in the Big Ten and 28th hardest nationally. Because of that, Minnesota is more likely to be battling for a bowl spot than a seat in Indianapolis (our numbers project 6.7 wins).
A Big Ten Longshot To Consider: Maryland Terrapins
Betting against Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State in the Big Ten East this season is lunacy. While Maryland likely isn’t taking the Big Ten Championship from any of these teams, they’re definitely a longshot to back this year. There’s incongruence between their projected wins, win total, and futures odds. At to win the Big Ten, the Terps are implied to finish in line with Michigan State, at least according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Prolific QB Taulia Tagovailoa returns for his senior season and he adds a pair of talented receivers in the portal to his weapons array: Kaden Prather (West Virginia) and Tyrese Chambers (FIU). Last season, Maryland gave both Michigan and Ohio State a handful, nearly upending the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Three seasons ago, they narrowly lost in OT to Ohio State. The Terps are a pain to Big Ten East foes, capable to pushing its top teams to the brink.
That brings us to 2023, where Maryland gets Penn State one week before the Nittany Lions play Michigan, and then Michigan the week ahead of the Wolverines’ date with Ohio State; not to mention they pull both of those foes at home. Between their prime lookahead trap spots with the league’s top teams and incongruence in the market, Maryland is almost certainly worth a couple outright upset looks this season.
A Big Ten Team To Fade: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Two things can be, and likely are, true at the same time: Matt Rhule was a terrific hire for Nebraska, but Big Ten odds show the Cornhuskers are likely in for a rough season. In his first year at Temple, Rhule finished with a 2-10 record; at Baylor, he started off 1-11. Granted, Rhule isn’t picking up a program in shambles like his previous two stops and thanks to the transfer portal, he was able to bring in some talent.
Transfer QB Jeff Sims ran incumbent QB Casey Thompson out of town, likely assuming the starting job. The Huskers also went and grabbed talented TE Arik Gilbert in the portal alongside a couple offensive linemen. Nebraska returns their top four rushers from last year, a necessary piece for new-OC Marcus Satterfield’s scheme of multiple tight ends and, yes, even fullbacks.
Nebraska is a strong team to lean unders early in the season. They plan to slow the offense down, huddling before every play and relying on the run. This also is a fade opportunity for larger spreads that may arise early in the year against teams like Colorado and Louisiana Tech, both teams who want to push the ball and play fast.
Defensively, Rhule hired Syracuse’s Tony White, who brings a “Broken Stack” scheme (a play on the 3-3-5 that shifts to multiple fronts according to the look. A bend-don’t break approach to defense). They return 63% of their defensive production, led by linebackers Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich, and all five starters in the defensive secondary.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Gone is prolific DC Ryan Walters, but Illinois promoted defensive backs coach Aaron Henry to replace him. Henry was instrumental in turning zero-star Devon Witherspoon into a top-five NFL Draft pick. Illinois adds Ole Miss QB Luke Altmyer via the transfer portal and return three starters along the offensive line. However, they’ll need to find the production vacated by a departing Chase Brown in the backfield. Look for speedy slot receiver Isaiah Williams to be among the conference’s most productive offensive players.
Tom Allen’s time in Bloomington is ticking. He took a pay cut to retain his job after last season, but this year’s Indiana team lacks the roster talent to compete for many wins. Indiana projects to be favored in just three games this year, only one of which comes in-league (vs. Rutgers). The quarterback position is wide-open and only six of 22 starters combined return. Against the Big Ten’s toughest schedule, the winds of change are already blowing on the Hoosiers.
Michigan State Spartans
In retrospect, handing Mel Tucker a $100M contract may not have been in the best interest of Michigan State. This offseason, after spring camp particularly, they lost starting QB Peyton Thorne and top WR Keon Coleman to the transfer portal. The Spartans are likely in for a tough year and the overall environment of the program is looking grim. This is a team so much on the decline that I liken naming them the Team To Fade to putting Indiana or Rutgers up there. Big, expensive changes are needed in East Lansing.
Hiring North Dakota State’s David Braun was a pretty savvy move by Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern’s lone crutch – their defense – failed them last season en route to a 78th overall finish in points per drive allowed. 75% of their production on defense returns, including eight starters. Offensively, the Wildcats finished with the seventh-fewest points per drive and return just 43% of production on that side of the ball. While Northwestern should see marked improvement on defense, this roster just isn’t talented enough to win many games.
Jeff Brohm is out the door, along with most of the coaching staff, but Purdue made a lauded hire in Illinois DC Ryan Walters. The Boilermakers spent the last few seasons relying on a high-volume passing offense to win games and even win the Big Ten West in 2022. Under Walters, that focus likely shifts. Purdue lands Texas QB Hudson Card in the portal, a nice pickup for them, and hired Graham Harrell to conduct the offense. However, our numbers project regression for Purdue, lining them for just 5.4 wins against a difficult schedule (29th hardest nationally).
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
To win at Rutgers, you have to take chances. In lieu of taking chances, Greg Schiano hired OC Kirk Ciarrocca. Only three teams finished worse in points per drive on offense and that likely won’t drastically change this coming season. However, the Scarlet Knights should field a good defense that returns 76% of its production from a year ago. While competing in the Big Ten East shouldn’t even be on Rutgers’ radar, a non-conference slate hosting Temple, Virginia Tech, and Wagner (FCS) could help push Rutgers over their win total in Big Ten odds, set at .
Big Ten All-Transfer Team
QB: Hudson Card (Texas to Purdue), Tanner Mordecai (SMU to Wisconsin)
RB: Sean Tyler (Western Michigan to Minnesota), Nathan Carter (UConn to Michigan State)
WR: Dante Cephas (Kent State to Penn State), Tyrese Chambers (FIU to Maryland), Elijah Spencer (Charlotte to Minnesota)
TE: Arik Gilbert (Texas to Nebraska)
OT: Myles Hinton (Stanford to Michigan), Gottlieb Ayedze (Frostburg State to Maryland)
IOL: Josh Simmons (San Diego State to Ohio State), LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State to Michigan), Drake Nugent (Stanford to Michigan)
DL: Josiah Stewart (Coastal Carolina to Michigan), Andre Carter (Western Michigan to Indiana), Tunmise Adeleye (Texas A&M to Michigan State), MJ Sherman (Georgia to Nebraska)
LB: Nick Jackson (Virginia to Iowa), Ernest Hausmann (Nebraska to Michigan), Joshua Rudolph (Austin Peay to Indiana)
CB: Davison Igbinosun (Ole Miss to Ohio State), Ja’Quan Sheppard (Cincinnati to Maryland)
SAF: Avantae Williams (Miami to Maryland), Ja’Had Carter (Syracuse to Ohio State)
Top Difference Makers To Know
Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State: Everyone knows Marvin Harrison Jr.’s name; he’s the best receiver in college football, hard stop. But runningmate Emeka Egbuka could have just as big an impact on Ohio State’s offense this season. He’s a projected first round NFL Draft pick and could contend for an All-America spot alongside Harrison.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State: Fashanu was a top overall NFL Draft selection this past cycle. Instead, he opted to finish his degree at Penn State and will almost certainly be a top-five pick again this year. In a conference loaded with offensive line talent, Fashanu stands head and shoulders above the rest. He’ll quickly become Allar’s best friend.
Donovan Edwards, RB, Michigan: Like the Egbuka pick above, everyone knows Blake Corum. He was a Heisman finalist until suffering a late-season injury last year. Without Corum, Donovan Edwards ran roughshod on Ohio State’s defense to the tune of 216 yards and two scores. There is no backfield in the country as dangerous as Michigan’s.
Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa: Often overshadowed by counterpart Riley Moss last season, Cooper DeJean was the top-rated coverage corner on Iowa, per PFF (fourth in the Big Ten). His best trait, however, is that he’s one of the most sure-tackling corners in the nation. He missed 4.2% of his tackle attempts in 2022, the second-lowest rate in the Big Ten.
Kalen King, CB, Penn State: One of the few B10 corners that graded out better than DeJean was Kalen King. He ranks first in coverage among returning corners in the Big Ten, per PFF, and allowed just one touchdown in coverage last season. King is a projected top-15 NFL Draft choice come next year’s draft.
Coaching & Coordinator Changes In The Big Ten
Most Impactful Hires
Luke Fickell, HC, Wisconsin: Nobody changed a team’s identity faster than Fickell did this past offseason. He brought in UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo and SMU star QB Tanner Mordecai, along with other pieces expected to vault the offense into the 21st Century. After a disappointing 7-6 finish last year, the Badgers are favored in the Big Ten West with a win total.
Ryan Walters, HC, Purdue: As DC at Illinois, Walters took zero-star prospects and turned them into top-tier NFL talent (Devon Witherspoon). Walters earns buy-in from his players thanks to a culture and charisma found very few places. According to Athlon Sports’ preview magazine, the hire was respected across the Big Ten.
Matt Rhule, HC, Nebraska: This year it was the Big Ten’s turn to have major coaching turnover. Nebraska paid a healthy sum to bring in Matt Rhule – a proven coach in the college ranks. Aside from a failure in the NFL (not uncommon and a fate shared by Nick Saban and Urban Meyer), Rhule wins everywhere he goes. He turned Baylor from a program decimated by scandal into an 11-win team. Hell, he even won 10 games at Temple… twice!
Kirk Ciarrocca, OC, Rutgers: For a program that requires risk-takers to punch above their talent weight class, Rutgers could have done a lot better than Ciarrocca. In his last three years – none of which were at the same program – he failed to produce a top-50 offense in points per drive. Ciarrocca brings an antiquated and conservative approach to offense, a system almost surefire to fail at Rutgers.
- Josh Gattis, OC, Maryland (Miami OC)
- Matt Simon (WRs) & Greg Harbaugh (TEs), co-OCs, Minnesota
- Marcus Satterfield, OC, Nebraska (South Carolina OC)
- Brian Hartline, OC, Ohio State (WRs)
- Graham Harrell, OC, Purdue (former USC, West Virginia OC)
- Phil Longo, OC, Wisconsin (North Carolina OC)
- Aaron Henry, DC, Illinois (DBs)
- Tony White, DC, Nebraska (Syracuse DC)
- David Braun, DC, Northwestern (North Dakota State DC)
- Kevin Kane, DC, Purdue (Illinois associate HC)
- Mike Tressel, DC, Wisconsin (Cincinnati DC)
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That wraps up our betting guide for Big Ten odds ahead of the 2023 college football season. Best of luck this season! Be sure to hit the yellow college football button at the top of this post for more previews ahead of the start of the season.