The Ohio State Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship in each of the past four years, and have made the College Football Playoff in each of the past two seasons. And while they will face challengers, it will take something special for anyone to dethrone the Buckeyes as conference champions in 2021.
Ohio State reached the national championship game last year, only to suffer a 52-24 loss to Alabama, the only defeat in a shortened 7-1 campaign.
Receivers rave about freshman Stroud
This year, Ohio State will replace quarterback Justin Fields, the first-round draft pick who will be playing for the Chicago Bears this season. The Buckeyes say they’ve found their man in CJ Stroud, who won a three-way quarterback battle to earn the job. The Ohio State wide receivers have raved about the redshirt freshman, saying he makes it easy for them to make plays.
“His arm talent is off the charts,” preseason All-American wide receiver Chris Olave told The Columbus Dispatch. “He’s going to put the ball wherever we need it.”
|Big Ten Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Ohio State: -220||Wisconsin: +600|
|Penn State: +900||Iowa: +900|
|Indiana: +2000||Michigan: +2500|
|Minnesota: +3000||Nebraska: +4000|
|Northwestern: +5000||Michigan State: +10000|
|Purdue: +10000||Maryland: +10000|
|Illinois: +25000||Rutgers: +25000|
Ohio State enters the season as the -220 pick to win the Big Ten, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Buckeyes are aiming higher, however, and come in as the fourth choice to win a national championship at +610, behind only Alabama (+200), Clemson (+410), and Georgia (+500).
Wisconsin seeks end to Big Ten title drought
The Wisconsin Badgers could be the team most likely to challenge Ohio State, with a meeting between the two in the Big Ten Championship likely. Wisconsin has made the conference championship game in three of the past five years, but has lost all three times — twice to Ohio State.
Many in the Badgers program are tiring of close calls and want to finally dethrone Ohio State as Big Ten champions.
“I look at it every single time I come out here,” Wisconsin senior defensive end Matt Henningsen told the Wisconsin State Journal, speaking of a display of the Badgers’ Big Ten titles. “It’s 2010, 2011, 2012, then nothing after. That’s something that burns, something that stings. We came close so many times.”
Wisconsin comes in as a +600 choice to win the Big Ten Championship, but they will first have to win the Big Ten West, where they will face a tough challenge from Iowa (+900). The Badgers rate as the -125 favorite to win the West Division, with Iowa at +175.
Meanwhile, most pundits expect Ohio State to run over the Big Ten East. FanDuel lists the Buckeyes as a -450 pick to win the division, over traditional powers like Penn State (+600) and Michigan (+1400), as well as upstart Indiana (+1000), which nearly beat Ohio State last year.
Ohio State starts its campaign on Thursday night when it visits the Minnesota Gophers. While the Buckeyes stand as the clear favorite, they should get a decent test: Minnesota comes in as just a 13.5-point underdog in the contest.