College Football Preview: Big Ten Leaders

Sportsbook.ag College Football Preview: Big Ten Leaders

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. Next up is the Big Ten Leaders division, which has two schools that are ineligible for postseason play, Penn State and Ohio State.

Football Odds to Win Big Ten Championship Game:
6-to-5: Wisconsin
20-to-1: Illinois
30-to-1: Purdue
100-to-1: Indiana

WISCONSIN BADGERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-3 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 7-7
Over/Under: 10-4
Points Scored: 44.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.0 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 40/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6

It appears Wisconsin has no interest in grooming its own QBs, as two years in a row the Badgers have landed big-name transfers. Danny O’Brien isn’t Russell Wilson, but he did throw for 2,438 yards, 22 TD and just 8 INT at Maryland in 2010 before a major coaching change stunted his development last year (7 TD, 10 INT). With Heisman Trophy candidate RB Montee Ball (1,923 rush yds, 33 TD; 6 rec TD) keeping defenses honest, O’Brien should have a relatively easy time throwing to Jared Abbrederis (933 rec yds, 8 TD), the team’s leading receiver from a year ago. Defense could be an issue for a unit that lost five starters, but the Badgers do return Chris Borland, who was one of the better linebackers in the nation last season. Head coach Bret Bielema usually does a solid job putting a quality defense on the field, so despite losing some key upperclassmen, there’s reason to believe the Badgers defensive unit will again be a force.

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7
Over/Under: 3-1
Points Scored: 22.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.6 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8

The Illini offense started off hot last season before struggling down the stretch with six straight losses to close out its Big Ten slate. Tim Beckman replaced Ron Zook as head coach to make sure that wouldn’t happen again. Illinois returns playmaking quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (13 pass TD, 6 rush TD) while the running game should improve upon last season’s pedestrian 172 rushing yards per game. The Illini will need a wide receiver to make up for the loss of first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, and that could be sophomore Spencer Harris, who provides a big target at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. Tim Banks, the new defensive coordinator, isn’t likely to stir things up, as the Illini were sixth in the nation in sacks (3.15 per game), fourth in Tackles For Loss (7.9 per game) and third in pass defense (162 YPG).
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PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (4-4 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7
Over/Under: 8-3-2
Points Scored: 26.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 26.8 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 9

Purdue is yet another Big Ten team with a quarterback controversy. QB Robert Marve (633 pass yds, 4 TD, 5 INT) will return to take snaps away from another talented QB in Caleb TerBush (1,905 pass yds, 13 TD, 6 INT). Fortunately for Purdue, both of these quarterbacks are very capable. If they can sure up an iffy offensive line, their solid corps of running backs and receivers could make the Boilermakers one of the tougher offenses to stop. On the other side of the ball, Kawann Short (6.5 sacks, 54 tackles, 17 TFL) is trying to solidify himself as the best defensive end in college football. He is one of nine starters returning, but the strength of the defense appears to be in the secondary, especially at cornerback.

INDIANA HOOSIERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 1-11 (0-8 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 9-3
Points Scored: 21.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 37.3 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8

The good news for the Hoosiers is that they can’t get any worse than they were last year. Indiana won only one game in 2011, a 38-21 victory over FCS school South Carolina State. Head coach Kevin Wilson has a decent group of running backs to work with, led by junior Stephen Houston (802 rush yds, 8 TD), but they are inexperienced at the quarterback position. The Hoosiers will need either Tre Roberson (3 TD, 6 INT) or Edward Wright-Baker (4 TD, 4 INT) to develop in order to have their answer under center. The defense still has a long way to go, but IU returns all four starters from its defensive line as well as three defensive backs, so building blocks are in place.

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (3-5 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 24.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 21.0 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: Not eligible for postseason

2012 Preview:

Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 9

Ohio State lost a year of bowl eligibility, but that gives Urban Meyer a year of experimentation with his young QB Braxton Miller (1,159 pass yds, 13 TD, 4 INT; 715 rush yds, 7 TD). Miller was one of the most exciting players to watch in the country last year and his confidence grew after a few big wins, including one against Wisconsin. Ohio State will need to find a new RB to replace Dan Herron, and No. 1 back Jordan Hall (405 rush yds) is likely to miss a couple games with a foot injury. No receiver on OSU caught 15 passes or gained 300 yards last year, and starting TE Jake Stoneburner (team-high 7 rec. TD) is suspended indefinitely. The defense should be outstanding, as the Buckeyes return almost every starter from last year’s dominant stop unit. Meyer will need to find a way to keep his Buckeyes focused in a year in which they really don’t have much to play for, but with eight home games on their 12-game schedule, a double-digit-win season is well within reach.

PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 3-8-2
Over/Under: 2-9-1
Points Scored: 19.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 16.8 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: Not eligible for postseason

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 4

After a year of distractions and tragedy at Penn State, new head coach Bill O’Brien is looking forward to a year in which the focus in Happy Valley is back on football. Following harsh NCAA sanctions stemming from the guilty verdict of Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse case, it is unclear which players will remain on the roster when PSU opens the season against Ohio. Last season, the Nittany Lions went back and forth between QBs Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, neither of whom was impressive. RB Silas Redd led the team with 1,188 rushing yards, but he is rumored to be transferring to USC. The offensive line is also an issue, as the team needs to replace four starters. On the defensive side, the linebackers should be solid, but they will need to find fill-ins for all four starters they lost in the secondary. It’s going to take a surprise at nearly every position for this Penn State team to post even a .500 record in conference play.

Cole Ryan

Cole Ryan

Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.

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