Big Ten betting preview: Braxton Miller's injury boost Wisconsin's odds
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 24-2 SU in two seasons under head coach Urban Meyer and were looking forward to challenging for a national title this year.
Then Braxton Miller, a 7-1 Heisman Trophy candidate, blew out his shoulder again, and fans and bettors pressed the reset button on expectations.
Meyer's Buckeyes were the favorite to win the Big Ten at 10/11 and a strong contender to win the national title. With one shoulder diagnosis, they tumbled from 10-1 to 40-1 within a few hours at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
The Spartans were a major surprise in the 2013 season, putting together a very impressive 13-1 SU and 9-4-1 ATS campaign. Michigan State followed up its upset of Ohio State in the Big Ten championship with another strong victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl as a 6.5-point underdog.
In 2014 the Spartans must replace a lot of holes on defense but should still be firmly in the running for a conference title and are about 22/1 to win the national championship.
In the Big Ten West Division, Wisconsin enjoyed a 9-4 SU and ATS season in 2013 and has the pieces in place to build on that this year. Melvin Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, putting him on the Heisman watch list this year at 20/1.
With neither Michigan State nor Ohio State on its regular season schedule, Wisconsin has a great chance at representing the West in the Big Ten title game and is 9/2 to win the conference. The Badgers were a bit of a wild card in title odds, with some books placing them around 25-1 and others as high as 40-1.
Joining Wisconsin's Gordon as a dark horse Heisman candidate running back is Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah with 33/1 odds. Abdullah enters his senior year coming off 1,690 rushing yards last season and should once again be the focal point of Nebraska's offense.
The Cornhuskers are going off at +775 to win the Big Ten, and look to be Wisconsin's biggest threat in the West division.
The Michigan Wolverines (10/1 in Big Ten odds) and the Iowa Hawkeyes (9/1) sit behind the conference's top four teams as a pair of longshots that could get into the division title picture if the stars align. Iowa's offense gives the Hawkeyes a chance in the wide-open West, but the defense will be breaking in a lot of new starters and leaves plenty to be desired.
Rounding out the Big Ten with odds to win the conference are:
Michigan State +255
Ohio State +300