The Big Ten season is coming to a close, but both division titles are still up in the air. The Big Ten West is wide open with four teams tied at the top, while the east division is a two-horse race between Michigan and Ohio State.
With all 14 teams in action this week, let’s take a look at the odds for week 12, presented by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Illinois at No. 3 Michigan (-17)
For weeks, it looked like Illinois was in clear control of the Big Ten West and destined for an appearance in the conference championship game. The Fighting Illini have dropped two straight games, though, first to a struggling Michigan State team and then to division opponent Purdue. Bret Bielema is still having a good second year as the program’s head coach, but his team will need some help to win the division now.
Michigan hasn’t let up once this season, easily taking care of Nebraska last week to improve to 10-0. The Wolverines have built on their success from last season, and all signs point toward another classic game with Ohio State for the Big Ten East title. Illinois is good enough that Michigan can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s rivalry matchup, but it is definitely the better team and it would be a major surprise to see it fall at home to the Illini.
No. 2 Ohio State (-27.5) at Maryland
Maryland was crushed by Penn State, 30-0, and looked lost on both offense and defense. The same team that was regularly putting up 25+ points has fallen off a cliff since its bye week and is getting minimal production from seemingly every position group. Early on, it looked like the Terps could be good enough to finish in the top couple spots of the Big Ten East, but that looks like a longshot now.
Ohio State, on the other hand, continues to roll and looks like a squad that has an argument as the best team in the country. The Buckeyes are huge favorites on the road in what is expected to be the most lopsided matchup in the Big Ten this week. Maryland’s only hope is Ohio State looking ahead to next week’s game against Michigan with revenge on its mind — the Terps nearly caught the Buckeyes in 2018 in the same scenario — but such a result would be one of the most shocking results of the season if it were to occur.
Iowa at Minnesota (-3)
In a stunning turn of events, Iowa has become competent on offense to go along with its elite defense. The team’s win over Purdue two weeks ago means that it just needs the Boilermakers to lose — as long as the Hawkeyes win out — to win the wide-open Big Ten West. The historically low over/under is indicative of Iowa’s top defense, as this week’s expected point total is the lowest FBS college football total since tracking began in 1995.
Minnesota’s defense has also been playing well since allowing 45 points to Penn State on Oct. 22, giving up an average of just over five points in its last three games. Iowa’s offense, while improved, will still likely struggle to put up points. The Golden Gophers also have an outside shot at a spot in the Big Ten championship game, so this one should be an exciting — but low-scoring — game in temperatures hovering around 15 degrees.
Indiana at Michigan State (-11.5)
Indiana enters Saturday’s game on a seven-game losing streak and looks to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have lost their last two games by an average of 36.5 points, and while Michigan State isn’t as good as Penn State or Ohio State, they’re double-digit underdogs on the road again and have a good chance of ending their season on a nine-game skid.
After losing to Michigan, Michigan State has rebounded nicely and won its last two games against Illinois and Rutgers. The Spartans have definitely not had the year they’ve wanted following their magical 2021 season, but can secure bowl eligibility with a win against Indiana before a tough season finale on the road at Penn State.
Northwestern at Purdue (-18)
After beating Illinois last week, Purdue has the best chance of any team to win the Big Ten West. All that stands between the Boilermakers and an appearance in Indianapolis are two games against two of the Big Ten’s worst teams: Northwestern and rival Indiana. They can’t afford to look past their last two games, but they will be sizable favorites in both.
Northwestern is one of just a few Big Ten West teams to not be in the division title race, and frankly it’s been horrible all season long. A win over Nebraska proved to be a complete mirage, and the Wildcats look destined for an 11-loss season. Defeating either Purdue or Illinois would be very surprising.
Wisconsin (-13) at Nebraska
After an easy win over Maryland, Wisconsin took a step back last week and lost by two touchdowns to Iowa. Before the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe to end the season against Minnesota, the Badgers will need to beat Nebraska to become bowl eligible in a tumultuous year.
Nebraska, like Wisconsin, parted ways with its head coach earlier in the season but hasn’t had the same success. The Cornhuskers will not be headed to a bowl game this season and have more or less flipped the page to the future as a program at this point. They are 13-point favorites at home against a physical Wisconsin team.
Note: No odds are available at DraftKings Sportsbook for No. 11 Penn State at Rutgers.