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At long last, Big Ten football is back. The conference kicks off its abbreviated slate this weekend, and Ohio State is the clear favorite to roll through its eight-game schedule and win the conference title.
Our betting experts Alex Kolodziej and C Jackson Cowart broke down their best bets for the conference title and Heisman Trophy, their favorite long shots, and the teams to stay away from in the Big Ten.
Alex Kolodziej: Is it a cop-out to bet Ohio State, despite the number getting close to 1-4? I was struggling to find some value before the schedule shake-up, but now I'm completely lost.
Not only do the Buckeyes have arguably the best athlete in the country under center in Justin Fields, but they also drew an extremely soft schedule and play against the bottom-four teams on the oddsboard.
The gap between Ohio State and the next-best team might be wider than Clemson's in the ACC. I'd lay it with the Buckeyes.
C Jackson Cowart: The correct answer is Ohio State, which Urban Meyer said has an "NFL roster" this year. It sounds crazy, but he's probably right.
Still, it's tough to lay that price, so give me Wisconsin at +500. The winner of this conference will surely have to beat Ohio State at least once, and while the Badgers avoid OSU in the regular season, they're well-positioned to keep pace with the Buckeyes in a potential title game.
Wisconsin ranks sixth in ESPN's SP+ rankings, including third on defense, and its always-stellar run game can keep Fields and Co. off the field long enough to bring volatility into play. That might be the only way to beat this juggernaut Ohio State team.
AK: My favorite dart is Purdue. The Boilermakers were unlucky last season (4-8 but projected for 4.8 wins), and they entered the offseason No. 20 in returning production.
Plus, I'm not really digging any of the teams priced shorter than 150-1. Thoughts, C?
CJC: Dang it, you stole mine. Any team with Rondale Moore can gleefully take my money.
The other team I'm curious about is Indiana. Look, the schedule is brutal: trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin and home games against Penn State and Michigan are ... less than ideal. But the Hoosiers will have to beat 'em eventually to win this conference, and 150-1 is too much value on a borderline top-25 team with the 11th-highest returning production (78%) of any roster entering the offseason.
CJC: I don't want any part of the Nittany Lions, who should be one of the country's best teams but aren't worth the price to find out. Losing two first-round talents in Journey Brown and Micah Parsons before the season even starts is a massive blow, and I'm not sold the annual Penn State letdown doesn't rear its ugly head again.
AK: I'm not getting cute with this: Fields at 7-1. He's a dual-threat quarterback who can pile up stats and will likely lead his team to a title to boost his resume. I thought Minnesota's Tanner Morgan was a solid flier way back when, but I still doubt it's enough to match pace.
Any surprises here, or are you with me on Fields?
CJC: Yeah, this is an easy call. I'm actually surprised he's still 7-1, though I guess a short schedule makes it tough for him to leapfrog Trevor Lawrence at this point.
Since Lawrence is already a prohibitive favorite, and these are all probably losers anyway, I'll steal your pick on Morgan. He's sneakily one of the country's best quarterbacks and shouldn't see anywhere close to 100-1 odds.
I don't love Minnesota's conference title price, but I do think the Gophers are generally overlooked and have a viable chance of stunning Ohio State, which would be a quintessential Heisman moment for Morgan.