The Big Ten is playing out as advertised, with heavyweights Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State jockeying for position atop the conference. In the case of two and possibly all three schools, a place in the College Football Playoff is at stake.
That said, there’s room for only one in the conference championship game, slated for Dec. 2 in Indianapolis. While No. 3 Michigan is currently a -110 favorite to win the Big Ten, the Wolverines are still far from a lock. Much will be determined over the regular season’s final month.
With that in mind, let’s break down the odds of the remaining contenders. Here are the Big Ten football championship odds following Week 10.
Amid allegations of sign stealing, Michigan appears undeterred in its chase of a Big Ten title. In addition to being -110 to win the conference, the third-ranked Wolverines are also +250 co-favorites with Georgia for the national championship.
Whether or not they’re playing by the rules, the Wolverines have the pieces to contend with essentially anyone. That includes a proven quarterback in J.J. McCarthy (75.7% completion rate, 18 TD, 3 INT) and the nation’s top-ranked defense, which has given up just 60 points on the season.
Now 9-0, including 6-0 in Big Ten play, the Wolverines still have plenty of work to do. They’re slated to visit No. 9 Penn State on Saturday and play host to No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 25. Those games will go a long way toward determining their fate, both for the conference and the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State‘s 9-0 start (6-0 in Big Ten) includes marquee wins over then-No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 7 Penn State. Largely because of that, the Buckeyes hold the top spot in the initial CFP rankings and are third in the AP Top 25 poll.
While the jury’s still out on quarterback Kyle McCord — the first-year starter has 17 touchdown passes compared to four interceptions — they have undeniably the best receiver in the country. Marvin Harrison Jr. — the son of NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison — has scored at least one touchdown in five straight games and has exceeded 100 yards six times. Accordingly, Harrison Jr. owns the best Heisman Trophy odds (+1800) of any non-quarterback.
With Michigan State and Minnesota on the NCAAF schedule for the next two weeks, it’ll be relatively smooth sailing for Ohio State heading into its rematch with Michigan. Assuming they don’t slip up before, the Buckeyes would lock up a Big Ten title berth with a win.
NEXT IN LINE
The Nittany Lions‘ path to the Big Ten Championship took a significant blow after losing to Ohio State. That said, the door’s still ajar ever so slightly.
First things first, the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-1) have to upset Michigan on Saturday at home. Then, they’d need to root for the Wolverines to beat Ohio State in the regular-season finale. Even so, a lot else would need to happen for the Nittany Lions to leapfrog both teams atop the Big Ten East.
As evidenced by the 15/1 Big Ten football championship odds, it’s a long shot. But it’s not inconceivable. James Franklin’s team will just need some help.
The Badgers are trending in the wrong direction after back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Indiana. They’re now 3-3 in conference play and 5-4 overall but benefit from residing in the hard-to-calculate Big Ten West. Only one game separates the top four teams in the standings.
While the NCAAF injury report is a concern, the Badgers’ remaining schedule (Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota) is fairly manageable. There’s a good chance college football betting lines have them favored in each of their last three games.
If freshman Braedyn Locke continues his strong play in place of Tanner Mordecai at quarterback, Wisconsin may have what it takes to reach the Big Ten Championship in Luke Fickell’s first season.
The Hawkeyes sit alone atop the Big Ten West at 7-2 (4-2), meaning they’re headed to Indianapolis if they win out. But their bottom-ranked offense (18.4 points per game) remains a bugaboo. They’ve scored more than 20 points just once in the last six games.
If that continues, it’ll take a heck of an effort for the Hawkeyes to knock off any of the Big Ten’s top contenders. That explains why their Big Ten football championship odds are 18/1.
The Golden Gophers (5-4, 3-3) are technically still in the mix because of their place in the Big Ten West, but their chances are slim. They’d likely need to win out to win the division, which means beating Ohio State on the road on Nov. 18. Enough said.
Matt Rhule has done an admirable job putting Nebraska (5-4, 3-3) on the brink of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2017. But that’s probably the Cornhuskers’ ceiling in 2023.