The Big Ten is back! - Opening week preview and predictions

Justin Fields of the Ohio State Buckeyes prepares to pass against the Clemson Tigers.
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

NCAAF · 1 year ago

Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

To play or not to play? That was the question this summer for all of college football, but especially for the Big Ten. For a while it looked like the conference would be on the outs, watching from the couch while the other Power 5 programs took their talents to the field. But the situation would soon take a turn, and now Justin Fields and company are ready to join the party.

Yes, the Big Ten is officially back this week. So let’s dive into its opening lineup and discuss some of the best bets to make.

Top 25 games

Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Michigan comes in as the 18th-ranked team in the nation, just three spots ahead of Minnesota. The Wolverines went a disappointing 9-4 last year, culminating in a blowout loss to Alabama in the Citrus Bowl. It was a better season for the Golden Gophers, who started 9-0 before finishing 11-2 with a win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Quarterback Tanner Morgan and receiver Rashod Bateman are both back for Minnesota, so Michigan’s defense is going to have its hands full. Getting the Gophers at +130 on the money line looks like very good value.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio State Buckeyes

When you have the fifth-ranked team in the land playing at home against an opponent that went 5-7 the previous year, what you get is a -26 spread. Those are never fun to deal with, so a better play could be on the under in this matchup. Ohio State gave up only seven points to Nebraska in 2019, and the 55 total points scored are well under this game’s 68 number. Although Fields will likely have his way with the Cornhuskers’ defense, he may be out of the game by the start of the second half. Expect another dominant performance by the Buckeyes’ defense.

Penn State Nittany Lions at Indiana Hoosiers

Penn State joins Ohio State in the top 10, currently ranked eighth. The Nittany Lions began last season 8-0 but struggled down the stretch when the schedule got tougher, losing to Minnesota and Ohio State. Their opening game in 2020 won’t be easy, because Indiana went 8-5 last year and compiled a winning record in the Big Ten (5-4). Penn State is without running back Journey Brown, who is dealing with an undisclosed injury. The last two meetings between these teams were decided by seven points or fewer and another competitive contest could be in the cards. Go with the Hoosiers and the six points.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Wisconsin Badgers

The Fighting Illini are also getting a lot of points (19 to be exact) with a road test against 14th-ranked Wisconsin first up on their 2020 schedule. Head coach Lovie Smith finally has a veteran roster on his hands in the form of 25 seniors, many with valuable starting experience—especially on the offensive line. The Badgers, meanwhile, lost four of their last eight games in 2019. Although they also return a lot, running back Jonathan Taylor left for the NFL. This is another instance in which the underdog and the points are the smart choices.

Other games

It has to be said that some of the Big Ten lineup is dreadful. Of course, every conference has to endure at least one or two bad matchups every weekend. The worst of the worst pits the Northwestern Wildcats against the visiting Maryland Terrapins. But it may not be the worst game to bet on, because Maryland is getting 11 points. That should be enough to cover at the expense of a Northwestern squad that went 3-9 in 2019.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State is hosting Rutgers and Purdue welcomes Iowa to West Lafayette.

Pickswise is your home for the best free college football previews and predictions all season long. Make sure to check out our NCAAF Picks page!

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5+ On Any NFL Pre-Game ML, Get $200 If Your Bet Wins

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any NFL pre-game ML

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

PointsBet

$800

Get 4x $200 In Free Bets

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Get a $1,250 risk-free bet

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

BetRivers

$500

Get Your First Bet Risk-Free Up To $500

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

DraftKings

$100

Bet $5+ on MLB and get $100 in Free Bets Instantly!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $100 no matter what!

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 in Free Bets With PointsBet's Second Chance

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

Yahoo DFS

$25

Get $25 in Site Credit With Yahoo DFS When You Deposit $5!

Register for a new account with Yahoo DFS and deposit $5+

Enter a $5 DFS contest

Upon entry, you will receive a bonus $25 in credit into your account!

21+ and new players only. Full terms available from Yahoo DFS.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.