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Expert handicapper Stephen Rodriguez gives us his pick for this year's Big 10 champion

BEST BET: Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes

2019 Record: (13-1, 9-0 CONF)

Odds to win Big Ten: -225

Ohio State were two minutes away from returning to the CFP National Championship, but saw their undefeated season come to an end at the hands of Clemson 29-23.

Returning and leading the Buckeyes for another year is quarterback Justin Fields, who was nearly flawless last season which resulted in him finishing third in Heisman Trophy voting. Fields threw for 3,273 yards with the third most touchdowns in the nation (41), and only three interceptions (only one in the regular season).

As if Fields and the returning group of players wasn’t enough, the Buckeyes add a Top-5 recruiting class for 2020 which will only make them stronger. Ohio State are the odds-on favorite, yet the line is sitting somewhat low enough that there’s room for profit to be betting on a three-straight conference champion.

Wisconsin Badgers

2019 Record: (10-4, 7-2 CONF)

Odds to win Big Ten: +1000

The Wisconsin Badgers have won the Big Ten West three of the last four seasons, but have fallen in the Championship all three times. This season, Wisconsin lost to Ohio State 34-21.

The Badgers’ biggest loss comes at the running back position in four-year starter Jonathon Taylor. Taylor led the FBS with 25 total touchdowns, rushed for 1,761 yards (second in the nation), 20 rushing touchdowns (fourth in the nation), and added 22 receptions for 201 yards and five receiving scores.

The returning bright spot for Wisconsin is quarterback Jack Coan, who threw for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding four rushing touchdowns.

Wisconsin hasn’t won the Big Ten since 2010 (which was a shared title) but is a consistent safe bet to make it to the title game. With the odds at +1000, the Badgers are well worth the gamble at finally dethroning the Buckeyes.

Penn State Nittany Lions

2019 Record: (11-2, 7-2 CONF)

Odds to win Big Ten: +1000

The Penn State Nittany Lions finished in second place of the Big Ten East for the second time in the last three seasons.

Juniors Sean Clifford and Journey Brown were a dangerous duo all season at the quarterback and running-back positions. Clifford completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,654 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions, adding 402 rushing yards with five rushing scores.

Brown rushed for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns on 129 carries, and added 15 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown.

Penn State was the last team to win the Big Ten Championship back in 2016 after topping Ohio State in the East division. With the amount of success Ohio State has had against Michigan, the only hope of the Buckeyes being topped in the division is in the Nittany Lions. If you’re looking for a dark horse to top the Buckeyes, Penn State could do it and it would be in the regular season when they play in Week 7.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

2019 Record: (11-2, 7-2 CONF)

Odds to win Big Ten: +2500

The Golden Gophers are coming off the best finish in program history after knocking on the door of a Big Ten West title. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s miracle season came to an end in the final game of the season after losing 37-16 at home to Wisconsin.

Returning for the Golden Gophers is the junior duo of quarterback Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim. Morgan completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,253 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Ibrahim rushed for 604 yards and seven touchdowns, and came off a freshman where he rushed over 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns.

Minnesota is a long shot to win the Big Ten, yet with the odds pumped so high at (+2500), it’s worth the gamble. The Golden Gophers’ main task will be overcoming the Badgers on the road in Week 6 this season.


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