Big Ten Odds, Preview: Ohio State, Oregon Lead Penn State, Michigan On Odds Boards

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
big ten odds

In an increasingly dichotomous college football landscape of haves and have-nots, the Big Ten lands under “haves.” While it didn’t start the fight – the now-rival SEC plucking Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 jumped the shark – the Big Ten sure won’t lose it. This year, they pull in four major West Coast brands: Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington. Broadcast rights also migrate to CBS and NBC, along with FOX. Divisions are a relic. The Big Ten in 2024 looks vastly different, including on its odds boards.

While Penn State benefits from a no-divisions format, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and other former Big Ten West teams hurt. This season, it’s all about favorites: Ohio State and Oregon. Michigan completely turns over following its first outright National Championship since 1948. How will the four newcomers fare in Big Ten championship odds? How many Big Ten members are under serious consideration for National Championship odds?

Let’s dive into this new 18-team Super Conference. Grab a coffee and find somewhere comfortable to sit. We’re going deep.

Big Ten Odds: To Win The Conference

Compare Big Ten odds from the best sports betting sites below. Click anywhere to place a bet.

There’s a pretty clear-cut set of tiers here. Ohio State and Oregon make up the top tier while Penn State and Michigan sit in Tier 2. USC falls into a nebulous void by itself while the Artists-formerly-known-as the Big Ten West (and Washington) fall into Tier 4. The Mid-Atlantic teams (Maryland, Rutgers), UCLA, and Illinois round off the last tier before we get into true longshot territory.

When considering a bet for the Big Ten winner, it’s likely foolhardy to get too cute. The top four teams – the top two, really – power rate far better than anybody else in the league. Ohio State and Oregon are serious National Championship contenders. Michigan and Penn State are serious College Football Playoff contenders. Tier 3 and 4 teams need the stars to align to make the CFP. Everyone else is fighting for bowl eligibility.

Big Ten Odds: Projected Wins, Win Totals

Projected wins below are derived from aggregate power ratings, including SP+, FPI, and more. Win totals are pulled from FanDuel Sportsbook as of June 20.

TeamProj. WinsWin TotalPrice
Ohio State Buckeyes10.710.5-150/+120
Oregon Ducks11.210.5+100/-122
Penn State Nittany Lions10.89.5-172/+140
Michigan Wolverines9.09.5+172/-215
Wisconsin Badgers6.56.5-144/+118
Maryland Terrapins6.26.5-140/+114
Iowa Hawkeyes7.77.5-122/+100
Nebraska Cornhuskers7.27.5-104/-118
USC Trojans6.77.5+100/-122
Washington Huskies6.87.5+118/-144
Rutgers Scarlet Knights6.26.5+128/-158
UCLA Bruins5.85.5-105/-115
Illinois Fighting Illini4.55.5+104/-128
Minnesota Golden Gophers4.85.5+114/-140
Indiana Hoosiers5.05.5+116/-142
Northwestern Wildcats3.45.5+168/-210
Michigan State Spartans5.24.5-154/+122
Purdue Boilermakers4.14.5+142/-178

Big Ten Power Rankings

big ten odds PR preseason 2024

Table Key (all ranks except power rankings are national):

  • Rank (Power ranking, conference)
  • Proj. Wins (Projected total wins)
  • Return (Returning production, total)
  • PPD (Points per drive scored)
  • PPDA (Points per drive allowed)
  • L5 (Last five years recruiting average, national)

Big Ten KFord Ratings

Kelley Ford posts his KFord Ratings for each conference on his website and Twitter. See his projections below:

KFord Big Ten odds projections

Big Ten Odds: The Favorites

Ohio State Buckeyes
Big Ten Odds:

What does it look like when the wealthiest college football program goes all-in? Can revenue and the transfer portal buy a National Championship? We’re about to find out.

All it took was three consecutive losses to arch-rival Michigan and sitting at home as Maize & Blue confetti fell on a National Championship trophy. But this year, the Ohio State Buckeyes are all in. They hired UCLA head coach Chip Kelly to call the offense, finally peeling the duties away from Ryan Day. Ohio State inked the eighth-best transfer class nationally on just six transfers (the other teams in the top 10 averaged 19.4 signees). Its 2024 signing class ranks fifth.

Will Howard comes in at QB, Quinshon Judkins complements TreVeyon Henderson as the best running back duo in America, and the best player in the portal, Alabama safety Caleb Downs, comes to Columbus. Adding to the deepest and most talented receiving room is freshman phenom Jeremiah Smith, the Buckeyes’ second-highest rated recruit ever. WR Emeka Egbuka is a returning All-American candidate.

Defensively, Ohio State should be a top-three unit nationally. Pass rushers J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer will be among the nation’s best duo. The secondary ranks best, according to Lindy’s and Phil Steele. The lone unit that could cause Ohio State problems is the offensive line, a unit bolstered by Alabama starting center Seth McLaughlin. And, of course, they don’t roster a proven championship QB.

The downside to rostering this much talent and spending this much money to improve is that 2024 is now championship or bust. And not just a league title – this year might be viewed as a failure should Day not be hoisting a National Championship trophy in Atlanta.

Oregon Ducks
Big Ten Odds:

Though Ohio State leads odds boards, the Oregon Ducks top many power ratings. ESPN’s FPI rates Oregon 2.3 points higher while KFord Ratings and Phil Steele favor the Buckeyes by a slim margin. The market is a bit more bullish, as Ohio State opened a -1.5 favorite on the road at Oregon later in the season. But thanks to a more favorable schedule, Oregon projects for more wins.

They bring in QB Dillon Gabriel in the portal, as well as Texas A&M star receiver Evan Stewart. The two headline the nation’s No. 2 transfer class, which also brings in two starters in the secondary (CBs Jabbar Muhammad, Kam Alexander) and two along the defensive line (Jamaree Caldwell, Derrick Harmon). Returning to Eugene is SLOT Tez Johnson (top 10 in yards/route run) and explosive RB Jordan James (10 TDs on 125 touches).

The offensive line – a unit Oregon’s hung their hat on for a few years – should again be one of the nation’s best, anchored by Ajani Cornellius. The offensive output should be similar to 2023 (as in, lots of scoring); it’s the defense that needs to shore up for Oregon to be a legit championship team. On paper, the stop unit was exceptional, but they played some pretty dreadful opposing offenses.

While this year’s slate doesn’t offer a murderer’s row of offenses, they add Ohio State, Michigan, and Boise State to a schedule that still includes Washington.

At kickoff, Oregon may only be an underdog in one game – a game whose line could well flip (vs. Ohio State, +1.5).

Big TEn Odds: The Contenders

Penn State Nittany Lions
Big Ten Odds:

Assessing Penn State is pretty straightforward: the Nittany Lions will only go as far as QB Drew Allar takes them. While the offense hasn’t done him many favors (see: James Franklin’s press conference asking if Allar would ever throw it deep), Allar is as guilty as anyone for his underwhelming career thus far. He posted a bottom-50 number in yards per attempt (6.7) and a bottom-25 mark in average depth of target (aDOT, 8.0). And for his conservative passing, Allar completed just under 60% of his passes, outside the top 100 nationally.

There’s plenty of reason for excitement on offense and optimism that Allar steps forward. New OC Andy Kotelnicki led Kansas to one of the most exciting offenses in the country for the past few seasons. Kotelnicki excels in creative rushing attacks. He has plenty of weapons to choose from in the backfield, including Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Ohio State WR Julian Fleming transfers to Happy Valley, although receiving talent is near its worst in some seasons.

Almost every other phase of Penn State’s roster is elite. It should field another top-10 defense, led by stud pass rusher Abdul Carter and an elite trio of linebackers. Manny Diaz left to coach Duke, so Franklin continued his trend of bringing in maligned head coaches as coordinators, hiring Indiana’s Tom Allen. The defense ranked No. 1 in rush yards per game allowed – likely a repeatable figure given that five starters in the front six return.

Nobody in the nation benefits from the trend away from divisions more than Penn State. The Nittany Lions are no longer required to go through both Ohio State and Michigan to make the Big Ten Championship. They don’t play Michigan until 2026 and avoid Oregon this season. The schedule sets up for a 10+ win season in 2024.

Michigan Wolverines
Big Ten Odds:

No National Champion in the CFP era had to replace its head coach until Michigan this year. Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL, handing the reins to OC Sherrone Moore. Moore led Michigan to two critical victories while Harbaugh was suspended: at Penn State and vs. Ohio State. Players rallied around Moore, who continued the Michigan brand of football seamlessly. But can Moore orchestrate a team without Harbaugh at all?

The Wolverines also must attempt to reload after returning just 36% of its roster production, least in the conference. They’re in search of a new starting QB and likely rotate a handful of players in the early weeks of the season. Dual threat Alex Orji was the backup last season and got first team reps in spring. However, veteran Jack Tuttle transfers in from Indiana and Davis Warren flashed in the spring game. As of June, there’s no clear starter.

Defensively, Michigan should again be elite. They roster the best interior defensive line duo in the nation: Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant (both likely early NFL draft picks). Corner Will Johnson will be a preseason All-American and EDGE Josiah Stewart may be in the conversation come year end. Unfortunately, all-conference candidate Rod Moore tore his ACL in this spring. Even if the offense isn’t as explosive as last year, it won’t have to be.

Giants DC Wink Martindale brings a similarly-aggressive style that Jesse Minter called. Don’t be fooled by three returning starters – this defense is as good as any in America.

Improving on 15-0 is impossible. Repeating it isn’t far off. Michigan plays the seventh-toughest schedule in the country with games against Texas, Oregon, and Ohio State anchoring it as a gauntlet.

Big Ten Odds: The Middle Class

With conference realignment inflating conferences to their largest sizes ever, we have to break them down more thoroughly than ever.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Big Ten Odds:

The longstanding nightmare for Iowa fans is seemingly over – the Hawkeyes finally moved on from Brian Ferentz. Last season, the pit bottomed out as Iowa recorded more than 1,000 more punting yards than they did offensive yards. They hired former Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester to conduct the offense. Until his final season in Kalamazoo, WMU did have a potent offense, peaking at sixth in PPD in 2020. Three times Lester led the Broncos to a top-40 PPD offense nationally.

But this isn’t Lester’s system. It’s still Kirk Ferentz’s.

Cade McNamara returns after suffering a torn ACL last year. While the system did him no favors, backup Deacon Hill was dreadful. McNamara provides a level of competence and confidence Iowa didn’t have at QB last season. They also return a weapon and likely future NFL draft pick at tight end, Luke Lachey. Four of five starters on the offensive line also return.

Iowa makes its money defensively. So long as Phil Parker calls the defense, the Hawkeyes will field an elite stop unit. Three of four starters in the secondary return, sans star Cooper DeJean, and Iowa rosters as good a group of linebackers as you’ll find anywhere. Jay Higgins recorded the most tackles in the nation (172) and Nick Jackson kept his all-conference level of play up with an additional 117. Two starters return on the defensive line, another expected deep and quality group.

The sentiment that it can always get worse likely doesn’t apply to the offense. There’s nowhere to go but up. Even a middling offense will make Iowa a 10-win team again. But is Lester that big of an impact coordinator to make it happen?

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Big Ten Odds:

Nebraska buried itself under such a mountain of memes that it went largely unnoticed as one of the nation’s best defenses last year. Tony White came in and led the Huskers to the eighth-best PPD defensively – 83 spots higher than 2023. Seven starters return, including four of a front seven that finished ninth in rush EPA allowed. Leading tackler Isaac Gifford also returns to Lincoln to play Nebraska’s Rover (APEX) defender. Nebraska has the perfect personnel to dominate with the 3-3-5, including stud defensive linemen Ty Robinson and Nash Hutmacher.

Of course, defense wasn’t the cause for a 5-7 season. As good as the it was, that’s how bad the offense was. Nebraska finished 121st in PPD and scored fewer than 21 points in nine games (including all four of an 0-4 finish to miss bowl eligibility). And, of course, there’s the 6-26 record in one-score games dating back to 2019. Even last year under Matt Rhule, Nebraska went just 1-5.

The Huskers finished with a -1.4 turnover margin per game, the second-worst mark in the country.

But there’s a supposed savior in Lincoln: QB Dylan Raiola. The No. 2 QB prospect in the 2024 class flipped his commitment from Georgia to Nebraska and completed 16-of-22 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the spring exhibition. He has a cast of talented receivers to throw to, including Wake Forest transfer Jahmal Banks and Wyoming transfer (via Texas) Isiah Neyor. 6-foot-4 Malachi Coleman is also expected to be a major contributor.

If Raiola hits the ground running, Nebraska could be a dangerous team. They start off with seven exceedingly winnable games – all games Nebraska should be favored in – before ending with a tough stretch that includes Ohio State, USC, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Wisconsin Badgers
Big Ten Odds:

Year 1 under Luke Fickell and Phil Longo didn’t go as planned for Wisconsin. They sputtered to a 7-5 regular season finish including losses to 5-7 Washington State and 3-9 Indiana. The offense finished 82nd in PPD, a mark that became worse when QB Tanner Mordecai broke his hand. This year, they bring in maligned Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke, a career 63% passer with an 8.4 aDOT (a bottom-40 number).

The Badgers will look to veteran Chez Mellusi to lead the backfield despite a long history of serious injuries. Oklahoma transfer Tawee Walker showed flashes of explosiveness and consistent ball security with the Sooners. All-Big Ten WR Will Pauling also returns. But ultimately the team’s success comes down to TVD’s mastery of the Air Raid offense – not an easy task for a single season.

The defense only returns a handful of starters, but it should be an improved unit thanks to some inbound transfers. John Pius, an FCS All-American, bolsters the pass rush and a pair of all-conference defensive backs return. The concern is up front, where Wisconsin doesn’t roster a premier defensive lineman like it has in the past.

Even if Wisconsin improves as a team, its record likely won’t. The Badgers take their lumps this year, hosting Alabama, Penn State, and Oregon, plus visiting USC, Iowa, and Nebraska. Games at Rutgers and against Minnesota provide no guarantees, either. Wisconsin’s schedule ranks 19th most-difficult, per aggregated power ratings.

Maryland Terrapins
Big Ten Odds:

For the last three years, Maryland had a solid answer at quarterback. With that answer gone, the Terps have to find a new reliable QB. Billy Edwards showed some dual-threat ability in the bowl game, but completed just 6-of-20 passing. MJ Morris comes in after a voluntary redshirt at NC State and is likely the most promising QB on the roster. I checked three different sources – Phil Steele, Athlon, and OurLads – and each one suggests a different starter.

Whichever QB benefits from three inbound starters along the offensive line and two rollover starters. Per usual, Maryland’s WR room is stacked with talent, including Kaden Prather (666 yards, five TDs) and Tai Felton (732 yards, six TDs). RB Roman Hemby is one of the most explosive backs in the country, but he was plagued by an offensive line that generated 1.04 yards before contact.

Five players in the front seven return on defense, but the secondary needs rebuilding. Maryland landed All-MAC corner Jalen Huskey from Bowling Green. Outside of a brutal five-game stretch midseason, the Terps’ defense was pretty formidable. This year, they catch an enormous break of opposing offenses. Aside from Oregon, USC, and Penn State, Maryland doesn’t face a team that finished inside the top 80 in PPD a season ago.

Maryland should be favored in each of its first six games. While the back half of the schedule gets a bit more difficult, the Terps don’t face Ohio State or Michigan. Their strength of schedule ranks fifth easiest in the Big Ten.

A Big TEn Longshot To Consider: Indiana Hoosiers

Let’s be up front about what “longshot to consider” means in this instance. There’s more charitable donations you can make besides betting real currency on Indiana to win the Big Ten. Perhaps a more suitable section name would be “longshot to back.” I’m looking to get ahead of the market in terms of betting on the Hoosiers early this season rather than bet over their win total or place an asinine bet on their Big Ten futures.

Curt Cignetti does one thing as a head coach: win. He’s a ridiculous 119-35 (.773) throughout all levels of college football, from D-II to the FBS. Cignetti successfully transitioned James Madison to the FBS, going 19-5 in a conference that has an argument to be the Group of Five’s best. And now, he takes over an Indiana program that’s finished ranked in the AP Top 25 once since 1988.

With Cignetti comes most of his JMU staff and nine JMU starters. All-MAC QB Kurtis Rourke also transfers in, a delight to inbound WR Elijah Sarratt (1,200 yards, 8 TDs) and returning WR Donaven Culley Jr. (last year’s leader). Mikal Kamara and Jailin Walker transfer in on defense. Walker is an extremely versatile linebacker who logged 5.5 tackles for loss last year and recorded two pick-sixes in 2022.

At its best, Indiana has been a pain in the rear. With Cignetti, an unapologetic and at times willfully arrogant coach, the Hoosiers will thrive as a pain in the rear. While it might not translate to bowl eligibility, they’re a team that could keep games closer than they should. Particularly watch for their game at Ohio State, which precedes the Buckeyes’ showdown with Michigan.

A Big Ten Team To Fade: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

A lot lines up right for Rutgers this season. The Scarlet Knights come off their first bowl win in a decade and return key contributors like RB Kyle Monangai and EDGE Aaron Lewis. Three starters along the offensive line return after leading Monangai to the first 1,000-yard rushing season in over a decade for Rutgers. Greg Schiano has full buy-in from the program for the first time since joining the Big Ten. And, best of all, the schedule sets up beautifully: no Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, or Oregon. The slate ranks 50th in difficulty and second-easiest in the conference.

With that kind of setup, Rutgers is favored to go bowling and has the backing of the market.

But Rutgers made a critical mistake this offseason – bringing in Minnesota QB Athan Kaliakmanis and running Gavin Wimsatt out of town. In his first year as a starter, Kaliakmanis completed 52.7% of his passes (13th-worst) for 6.2 yards per attempt (bottom-25). He had just a 3.2% big time throw rate (40th-worst) and made 15 turnover-worthy throws (39th-most). Beyond all, he just didn’t get the offense off the ground.

Wimsatt offered a rushing threat Kaliakmanis doesn’t. A 20.5% pressure-to-sack ratio outlines a lack of escapability. The bottom line is, Kaliakmanis was a poor choice in the portal, especially when it cost Rutgers its multi-year starter.

When operating on a razor-thin margin like Rutgers does, it’s imperative to get the QB right. And they just didn’t get it right.

The Newbies

USC Trojans
Big Ten Odds:

Gone are both the highest high and lowest low of USC football in the past two years: Caleb Williams and Alex Grinch. Lincoln Riley hired away crosstown rival D’Anton Lynn to turn the defense around, a savvy hire. Lynn turned UCLA from the 106th defense in PPD to the ninth-best in just one season. Riley also hired away North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz as linebackers coach. For the first time in his tenure at either USC or Oklahoma, Riley is making a concerted effort to field a good defense.

Just four starters return on the stop unit, notably DT Bear Alexander and LB Mason Cobb. They add Arizona State LB Eric Gentry and Oregon State veteran Akili Arnold. In all, USC’s defense might be the single most-improved unit in the nation in 2024.

Miller Moss steps in to fill the enormous shoes left by the 2022 Heisman winner. Moss tossed six touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl, but will be challenged by UNLV transfer Jayden Maiava. Potential superstar Zachariah Branch returns as a weapon both on offense and special teams. The biggest addition to the offense is Mississippi State RB Woody Marks (573 yards).

Of course, moving to the Big Ten is a step up in class. USC needs better play on both sides of the line of scrimmage to contend with teams like Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska. If the offense fails to get going this season, it’ll be due to inferior talent on the line.

The Trojans also play the second toughest schedule in the nation. Aside from the aforementioned three teams, USC plays LSU and Notre Dame in non-league play and visits Maryland, Washington, and UCLA.

Washington Huskies
Big Ten Odds:

The comedown from national runners-up is expected to be a big one. Kalen DeBoer – a career .898 coach – heads to Alabama to try and succeed Nick Saban. Washington made a strong hire by plucking away Brent Brennan, who turned Arizona from 1-16 in 1.5 seasons (2020-21) into a 10-win team that would have been in the expanded College Football Playoff conversation. Brennan enters a much better situation at Washington with a much-better stocked cupboard than what was left by Kevin Sumlin in Tucson.

But just 40% of roster production from that runner-up team returns. Washington must replace a top-10 NFL draft pick at QB, another first-rounder on the offensive line, and three draft picks at receiver. Zero starters return on offense and only two return on defense. It’s a true rebuild.

Mississippi State transfer Will Rogers likely takes the reins as QB1 and Arizona transfer RB Jonah Coleman (863 yards) shoulders the load on the ground. Giles Jackson is a gritty and talented veteran that carries over from last season. David Boston is an exciting prospect out wide, but that’s about it. An opposing Big Ten coach sized up Washington saying, “they’ll probably take it on the chin this season…”

Defensively, Washington has some pieces. The starting lineup will be packed with veterans and is bolstered by all-conference CB Ephesians Prysock from Arizona. Steve Belichick will be calling the plays.

Washington lands Michigan, Iowa, USC, Penn State, UCLA, and Oregon in seven of its final games. Its first foray in the Big Ten is a Friday night game in Piscataway to face Rutgers. Welcome to the league!

UCLA Bruins
Big Ten Odds:

Of the four new teams in the Big Ten, UCLA comes in with the most bearish outlook. Chip Kelly left to call plays at Ohio State late in the cycle, although the hire of DeShaun Foster garnered lots of positive reviews from Pasadena. Foster played for UCLA and spent all but one of his 11 coaching seasons with the Bruins. If anyone’s going to take this job seriously, it’s Foster.

But his hiring wasn’t enough to save the roster. QBs Collin Schlee and Dante Moore transferred, bruising back Carson Steele went pro, and star EDGE Laiatu Latu was picked in the first round of the NFL draft. Three starters do return along the offensive line, as does veteran QB Ethan Garbers. J. Michael Sturdivant is the offense’s best weapon and rising starter at RB, T.J. Harden, was in contention for the most carries during spring last year.

The biggest concern comes on defense. D’Anton Lynn bolted for USC after improving UCLA’s defense by nearly 100 spots nationally in just one year. As mentioned, the defense’s best player is gone and two potential starters in the secondary followed Lynn. DL coach Ikaika Malloe was promoted and retains most of what worked last year. But overall, this is a far less talented unit.

The schedule does UCLA no favors. It ranks eighth in difficulty and features LSU, Oregon, and Penn State in consecutive weeks. After the bye, UCLA plays Nebraska, Iowa, Washington, and USC before closing up shop against Fresno State, far from a pushover.

Everyone Else

Illinois Fighting Illini
Big Ten Odds:

Illinois loses its two biggest weapons on offense in Isaiah Williams and Reggie Love. Luke Altmyer tossed 13 TDs to 10 picks and managed 300 yards in only one game. Defensively, Jer’Zahn Newton and Keith Randolph left for the NFL draft. Only four starters return and Illinois will need to find a pass rush fast. The back half of the schedule is manageable – with Minnesota, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Northwestern – but the Illini might take some lumps early. They play Kansas, Nebraska, and Penn State in September and follow it up with back-to-back matchups with Michigan and Oregon in October.

Michigan State Spartans
Big Ten Odds:

Jonathan Smith was a great hire given the condition Michigan State was left in after Mel Tucker. Smith turned Oregon State, a historic .427 program, into a perennial contender. QB Aiden Chiles was a prized recruit for the Beavers and follows Smith to East Lansing. However, both lines must be completely rebuilt. The Spartans return a secondary that looks to improve on its 108th ranking in dropback EPA from last year. However, this is a reclamation project; it would take enormous luck for Michigan State to go bowling, even against the Big Ten’s easiest schedule.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Big Ten Odds:

Don’t turn your back in Minnesota. They bring in New Hampshire transfer QB Max Brosmer and return one of the nation’s best backfields. Darius Taylor rushed for 199 yards per game in limited action before getting hurt. Ohio transfer Sieh Bangura and breakout Jordan Nubin complement to be Phil Steele’s sixth-ranked RB unit. Four starters on the offensive line return, as do eight on defense. Minnesota replaces DC Joe Rossi with Corey Hetherman, an aggressive LBs coach from Rutgers. The Golden Gophers could give the better teams on their schedule fits, but the schedule is loaded with Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State.

Northwestern Wildcats
Big Ten Odds:

Don’t underestimate the burden of not having a venue to call home on college players. Northwestern will still play on campus, but in a 15,000-seat temporary lakeside field. RB Cam Porter will be the focus of the offense under new OC Zach Lijuan from South Dakota State. Look for more presnap motion, gap scheme, and QB counters this coming season. Seven starters on defense, including everyone on the defensive line, return from a unit that ranked 31st in PPD a season ago. The Wildcats draw the short stick with both Ohio State and Michigan, and their schedule is the third-most difficult this year.

Purdue Boilermakers
Big Ten Odds:

It was always going to be a reclamation project for Ryan Walters. Purdue returns Hudson Card at QB and Devin Mockobee at RB. The duo was dynamic at moving the ball, but also struggled with inopportune turnovers. The Boilermakers have to replace star WR Deion Burks – and they tried to with FAU transfer Jahmal Edrine, but he suffered a knee injury in the spring. The defense should improve after allowing the 15th-most 20-yard plays in 2023. According to an opposing coach, it was due to growing pains with the Walters system, and they expect Purdue to more fully grasp the concept this year.

Big Ten All-Transfer Team

QB: Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma to Oregon); Kurtis Rourke (Ohio to Indiana)
RB: Quinshon Judkins (Ole Miss to Ohio State); Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams (UMass to Michigan State)
WR: Julian Fleming (Ohio State to Penn State); Evan Stewart (Texas A&M to Oregon); Dymere Miller (Monmouth to Rutgers)
TE: Jack Velling (Oregon State to Michigan State)
OT: JC Davis (New Mexico to Illinois); Drew Azzopardi (San Diego State to Washington)
IOL: Seth McLaughlin (Alabama to Ohio State); Josh Priebe (Northwestern to Michigan); Kevin Wigenton (Michigan State to Illinois)

DL: Mikail Kamara (James Madison to Indiana); Sebastian Valdez (Montana State to Washington); Jamaree Caldwell (Houston to Oregon); John Pius (William & Mary to Washington)
LB: Wayne Matthews III (Old Dominion to Michigan State); Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (Oregon State to USC)
CB: Nyland Green (Georgia to Purdue); Kobe Savage (Kansas State to Oregon)
SAF: Caleb Downs (Alabama to Ohio State); Akili Arnold (Oregon State to USC)

Top Difference Makers To Know

We all know names like Drew Allar and Donovan Edwards. Here’s perhaps some lesser-known talent worth keeping an eye on this fall:

Darius Taylor, RB, Minnesota: Taylor missed most of the season due to injury. But the full games he did play? Taylor rushed for 199 yards… per game. Omarion Hampton and Ollie Gordon will steal the spotlight, but Taylor has a genuine case for the best RB in America. Did I mention he was only a true freshman in 2023?

Jeremiah Smith, WR, Ohio State: Of all the recent phenom receivers at Ohio State, Smith might top the list. He was the No. 1 overall recruit in 2024. Smith’s coaches and teammates praise the 6-foot-4 freshman as “NFL ready” before he even takes a collegiate snap.

Tez Johnson, WR, Oregon: The SLOT receiver ranked top-10 in yards/route run and is one of just four top-10 Y/RR producers from 2023 to return in 2024. Troy Franklin got the national attention, but Johnson is poised to be a legitimate superstar this season. Gabriel will love throwing the ball to him.

Mason Graham, DT, Michigan: The Wolverines have the best interior duo on the defensive line in the country and it might not be close. Think of Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant as the T’Vondre Sweat-Byron Murphy duo of 2024. Graham’s name will be household come NFL Draft season, if it isn’t by October.

Coaching & Coordinator Changes In The Big Ten

Sherrone Moore, Michigan: Being the man to follow Jim Harbaugh is perhaps the second-most daunting job in college football, behind only Nick Saban’s successor. Moore won two critical games as the head coach in Harbaugh’s absence last year, beating both Ohio State and Michigan. But how does he perform with the reins to himself and heavy turnover?

Jonathan Smith, Michigan State: Following a rollercoaster era under Mel Tucker, Michigan State looked for a complete opposite solution. In comes Smith, who turned Oregon State around from 2-10 to 10-3 in just four full seasons. Feeling the imminent collapse of the Pac-12, Smith bolted for the Big Ten. He brings promise of a stable build in East Lansing.

Curt Cignetti, Indiana: Going after Ohio State and Michigan on Day 1 was controversial and possibly ill-sighted. But Cignetti brings over a bunch of contributors – both on the field and on the sidelines – with him from James Madison. He changes the entire culture of Indiana football for 2024.

Chip Kelly, OC, Ohio State: Kelly is the poster child for what changes to college football do to aging head coaches. No longer interested in directing NIL, Kelly took what appears to be a voluntary demotion. But having an offensive play caller with the chops of Kelly – who should finally take the reins from Ryan Day – feels like the missing piece for the Buckeyes.

Check out every Big Ten coaching and coordinator change this offseason!


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