2011 NCAA College Football Conference Odds – Big Ten & PAC-12
The recent realignment of a few teams in college football has set up divisions in two major conferences for the first time in their history. The addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten gives the conference 12 teams, which have been divided up into the Leaders and Legends Divisions. The PAC-10 is now the PAC-12 as the addition of both Colorado and Utah has created the North and South Divisions within the conference.
Given the new look of each of these conferences; sportsbooks have released odds for not only a team’s chances of winning the conference, but its odds for winning the division as well. Each conference now has the opportunity to stage a title game between the winners of each division in early December similar to the ACC and the SEC. The Big East never had a title game and the Big 12 no longer has enough teams to stage one either.
Starting with the Big Ten’s Leaders Division, which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin, the Badgers have been opened as the favorite at +125. They lost half their starters from last season’s 11-2 squad, but aided by several strong recruiting classes should be able to quickly reload. Joe Paterno’s youthful Nittany Lions are the second favorite at +175, followed by the much maligned Buckeyes at +250. Wisconsin should have a clear track to the title game from this division unless Ohio State can quickly put its off-field issues behind.
The Legends Division consists of Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern. The newest member gets the nod here as the Cornhuskers are a prohibitive favorite at -250. They return seven starters on defense, including DT Jared Crick and CB Alfonzo Dennard, making them one of the best units in the country. The offense will be led by QB Taylor Martinez, who is a duel threat with both his arm and legs. The closest teams to Nebraska are the Hawkeyes at +300 and the Spartans at +350. Iowa will heavily rely on a running game led by Marcus Coker, while Michigan State will have QB Kirk Cousins and RB Edwin Baker back to help lead its offensive attack.
The PAC-12 North is made up of California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State. This division is shaping up as a two-team race with the Ducks getting the slight edge at +125 over the Cardinal at +150. Oregon lost some key players on offense from last season’s championship team but it still has QB Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy hopeful RB LaMichael James. Stanford will pin its hopes for winning the division on QB Andrew Luck, who is already on everyone’s short list as the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The next closest favorite in this division is Oregon State at +500.
The South Division features Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah. Given that the Trojans are still serving a suspension from postseason play, this race should be tight all season long between co-favorites Arizona State and Utah at +175, followed by Arizona at +250. The Sun Devils could have the slight edge here with 20 starters returning from last year’s team. QB Brock Osweiler should get the nod as the starter after relieving an interception-prone Steven Threet last season. The Utes get the chance to show they have a big time program after battling it out with TCU in the Mountain West for national attention. The Wildcats will look to remain competitive all season long after losing their last five games down the stretch last year.
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