After weeks of watching college football in different regions across the country, the anticipation is growing for Big Ten Football.
Michigan sports betting fans won’t have to wait much longer, with the Big Ten kicking off on Oct. 24.
What can bettors expect from the 2020 Big Ten season? Will Michigan or Michigan State manage a championship run?
Oddsmakers sticking with Ohio State
As the Big Ten season approaches, oddsmakers still feel Ohio State is the clear team to beat in the conference race.
BetMGM Sports puts Ohio State at a -250 favorite over the rest of the Big Ten teams. Michigan is a distant second at +550. Penn State and Wisconsin tie it up at +900.
FanDuel Sportsbook has Ohio State as a -300 favorite, while Wisconsin has +600 odds and Penn State has +650 odds. Michigan’s FanDuel odds are far longer, as the Wolverines are listed at +2000.
Michigan State is listed with +15000 for FanDuel.
Keep in mind that Big Ten odds in Michigan won’t include player props… at least for now. Until the Michigan Gaming Control Board gives the thumbs up, Detroit sportsbooks are limited to game odds, futures and team-based props.
Wolverines looking to end Big Ten drought
Michigan is seeking its first Big Ten Championship since 2004 this season.
The Wolverines enter their sixth season with Jim Harbaugh as coach. He is 47-18 in his first five seasons but has been unable to produce marquee wins. Harbaugh is 0-5 against Ohio State and just 1-4 in bowl games.
Michigan is handing the offense over to Joe Milton, a junior quarterback that has thrown 11 pass attempts in his college career.
Milton has Michigan’s leading receiver back in Ronnie Bell. He caught 48 passes for 758 yards and a score in 2019. Nico Collins, who had 729 yards and seven scores, opted out of the season. Collins, however, is mulling a potential return to play.
In the backfield, Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins are back after combining for over 1,300 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
Defense could be the key for Michigan, as the Wolverines allowed just 292.8 yards per game last season. Their defensive front, led by Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson, will be a strength.
Michigan State has a lot of unknowns
For the first time since 2006, Mark Dantonio won’t be leading the Michigan State football team on the field this season.
Dantonio elected to step away following the 2019 season where the Spartans went 7-6. In a bit of a scramble, MSU brought in former Colorado coach Mel Tucker to lead the program.
Tucker has had a rocky start, as spring football was canceled and the Spartans dealt with COVID-19 lockdown early into training. Implementing his new system couldn’t have been easy.
Michigan State struggled offensively last fall, averaging just 22.4 points per game.
Elijah Collins was promising in the backfield, rushing for 988 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. The Spartans will have to rely on Collins as they work in a new starting quarterback.
Rocky Lombardi, Theo Day and Payton Thorne are splitting reps in practice as part of a QB competition. Lombardi and Day each saw limited snaps in 2019, while Thorne is a redshirt freshman.
Defense is normally a strength for Michigan State, but the Spartans were in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in 2019. MSU gave up 22.7 points and 319.2 yards per game.
The front seven amassed 40 sacks last season, but lost veteran players like Kenny Willekes and Joe Bachie. Antjuan Simmons led the defense with 90 tackles and is back at linebacker to lead the MSU defense.
MSU, Michigan draw competitive openers
Michigan opens its 2020 campaign with a road trip to Minnesota. Michigan State will open the season at home against Rutgers. Both games are scheduled for Oct. 24.
It’s a tough draw for Michigan, as Minnesota finished last season No. 10 nationally after an 11-2 record. The Gophers were 6-1 at home.
Opening odds listed Minnesota as a 2-point favorite at home, but current odds for the game are not available.
These two haven’t met since 2017, a 33-10 win for Michigan at home. The Wolverines have won eight of the last nine in the series, but Minnesota has covered in two of the last three encounters.
Unproven MSU is a favorite going into its game with Rutgers. Opening odds listed Michigan State as a 4-point home favorite against Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 2-10 record in 2019 that saw them go 0-9 in Big Ten play. Greg Schiano has returned to take over the program he coached from 2001-11.
The Spartans have won six straight in the series and not lost to Rutgers in Big Ten play. MSU has covered in four of those six wins.
In Week 2 on Oct. 31, Michigan plays host to Michigan State.