Big Ten football is right around the corner. I decided to check out the betting lines on all the games and one thing stood out. Quite a few teams had their lines jump from the opening line. The gamblers are picking against a lot of the Big Ten teams and I understand why. Here are three games that could cause heartache for a B1G team.
Ball State Cardinals at Illinois Fighting Illini
The line for this game started at Illinois -11 and now it’s sitting at -7. What do the gamblers know? A couple of things. One, Illinois looked absolutely terrible last season. Two, Ball State was a better team than their record last season and return a bunch of starters.
First, let’s take a look at just how terrible Illinois was last season. They lost 5 of their last 6 games. While that’s bad, they lost those 5 games by an average of 30 points. That’s a level of ineptness that is rarely seen by B1G teams. Their sole win in that stretch was a close one against a Michigan State team that gave up on the season weeks earlier.
Going into this season, the Fighting Illini return 9 starters, 5 on offense and 4 on defense. That’s probably not the worst thing in the world, since they were so terrible but there is no substitution for game reps. Quarterback Chayce Crouch has attempted 66 career passes.
As for Ball State, they are a solid football team. They were 4-8 last season and 4 of those losses were by sole possession. Their quarterback and running back both return. I expect them to be much farther along week one than the Illini. In the middle of the season, I think I would have this game a pick’em. First game, I give the edge to Ball State.
Bowling Green Falcons at Michigan State Spartans
Based off of last season, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. Bowling Green looked absolutely horrible in their non-conference slate and by the end of the season was a solid MAC team. Michigan State looked reputable at the start of the season and then looked like Illinois by the end of the year. Actually worse than Illinois, save for one game against Ohio State. And that’s why this game would scare the heck out of me if I am a Michigan State fan.
This is a bad match up for Michigan State because Bowling Green has some very talented players that fall right into Michigan State’s weaknesses. Joseph Davidson is one of the best punters in the nation. Not only does he have a big leg, he can bury a team inside the 10 with consistency. That can spell disaster for a conservative offense.
Michigan State has been mostly fantastic under Dantonio because of a great defense. The last few years, the one weakness in that defense is in the secondary. Bowling Green has a 6’5 sophomore quarterback named James Morgan. After the early lumps, he was thrown into the fire. He performed well, but the team didn’t win. Then he learned to work within the framework of what the team was trying to do and Bowling Green won their last 3. His favorite target, Scott Miller, also returns, and he seems to have his best games against good defenses.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
It’s rare for B1G on B1G violence the first game of the season, but here we are. It’s a night game, in Bloomington on a Thursday. I don’t like oddly scheduled games. Weird things happen. There is the added story line of former IU coach Kevin Wilson now in control of the Buckeyes’ offense, and this game could get really weird. One last little tidbit that doesn’t actually include stuff on the field, since Urban Meyer has been at Ohio State, both of his games in Bloomington were 1 possession games that Indiana had a chance to win late.
If you aren’t scared of this game as a Buckeye fan, you haven’t been paying attention. On the field, Ohio State holds a huge advantage over the Hoosiers. But sometimes all this funky mojo stuff really does factor into who wins and who loses. Why this could get interesting on the field is that Indiana actually has a good defense and returns more production on that side of the field than anyone in the country. When Ohio State has struggled recently, it’s been against teams that slow down their offense.
While I don’t think there will be an upset in all three of these games, I would be shocked if there isn’t at least one. I am sure a lot of you thought I would include Iowa taking on Wyoming. There is a very, most excellent reason why. I decided to make the list 3 games. If I would have decided on 4 games, they would most certainly be on the list. Wyoming returns 8 starters on defense. This noon game has all the markings of a 10-6 snooze fest. Iowa is extremely comfortable and used to these types of games, so that gives them a slight edge in my brain. In any case, football season is almost here and it should be a fantastic year starting week one.
Which Big Ten Team Will Go Down In Flames Week 1
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All of them
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