It will be an expanded version of the Big Ten in 2011 with the addition of Nebraska to the ranks. The Cornhuskers defection from the Big 12 not only raises the total number of teams in this conference to 12, it sets the stage for two divisions within the Big Ten, the Leaders and Legends. It also creates, for the first time ever, a conference championship game for the Big Ten title.
Bodog.com has released its odds for each team’s chances to not only win the conference but win its division as well. As the new comer to the party, Nebraska is a prohibitive 1/2 favorite to represent the Legends Division in the title game and an 8/5 favorite to win the overall Big Ten title.
When looking at a Bo Polini coached team, the two things that come to mind is a suffocating defense that is next to impossible to score upon and an offense that can chew up time on the clock by running the ball down its opponent’s throat. The 2011 version of the Cornhuskers should once again boast both of these elements with a good chunk of last year’s starters still in place mixed with some very talented underclassmen that are poised to fill any existing gaps. Nebraska’s odds to win a BSC title are 25/1 but there is some tremendous value there, given the level of talent on this team.
The Wisconsin Badgers are a 7/5 favorite to win the Leaders Division, and the second-favorite at 13/5 to win the Big Ten. Much of the buzz in Madison this offseason revolved around the arrival of former NC State standout Russell Wilson, who will compete with Joe Budmayr for the starting spot at quarterback. Wilson should easily prevail if he looks anything like the player that threw for 3,288 yards and 26 TD’s last season, while leading the Wolf Pack in rushing touchdowns with nine. The Badgers are just above Nebraska in the BCS odds at 20/1 basically because of this acquisition.
Another plus in Wisconsin’s favor is a running game that returns James White, who ran for 1,029 yards last season and a defense that features All-Conference players CB Antonio Fenelus and FS Aaron Henry. The first big showdown with the Cornhuskers will be on Oct. 1 at Madison and the second will most likely be in the Big Ten title game in early December.
The third-favorite to win the conference is Ohio State at 5/1. The Buckeyes are the also the second choice to win the Leaders Division at 2/1. Despite all the turmoil surrounding this team over the past several months, there is still a ton of talent that is dying to show the world that the loss of Jim Tressell as head coach and Terrelle Pryor at quarterback will have little or no effect on its drive to a national championship. In reality, it is hard to believe that Ohio State will actually be able to put all this behind and could easily spiral out of control if it suffers a bad loss in the early going. Looking at the Buckeyes’ schedule, this meltdown could occur as early as Sept. 17 after a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes.
The team to watch in the Big Ten this season could be the youthful Penn State Nittany Lions led by the ageless Joe Paterno. The Lions are the third-favorite to win the Leaders Division at 43/20 and the fourth-favorite to win the conference at 11/2. Much of their success this season could hinge on the play of QB Rob Bolden, who showed flashes of greatness last season, but lacked the consistency needed to win on a regular basis. The defense has some holes to fill up front, but remains solid in the secondary with the return of CB D’Anton Lynn. The first big test for the Lions will be on Sept. 10 when they host Alabama in Happy Valley. They will also have to survive a brutal finish with games against Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin to close out the regular season.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.