2022 College Football: Best last-minute preseason Big Ten bets

New York, NY, USA; Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Rakim Jarrett (5) runs with the ball as Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Keonta Jenkins (33) tackles during the first half during the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

• The Ohio State Buckeyes are the market's favorites to win the Big Ten, implying that they have over a 60% chance of winning the conference.

• On the back of Taulia Tagovailoa's skill at quarterback, the Maryland Terrapins are a great bet to go over their projected win total.

• The Nebraska Cornhuskers, even with expectations riding high, are a team to fade at their projected win total due to a poor offensive line and questions at quarterback.

The 2022 college football season kicks off on Aug. 27, as Week 0 is headlined by the Northwestern Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers squaring off in Dublin, Ireland. Most of the value has been lost on preseason bets in college football, but that’s not to say there aren’t some winners available on the market. 

Let’s look at the best last-minute preseason bets in the Big Ten.

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Ohio State is looking for revenge after Michigan spoiled its opportunity to compete in 2021's Big Ten Championship game — a game that the Buckeyes won in each of the previous four seasons. The Buckeyes are in a good position to avenge their “down season” in 2022 according to the market, but PFF’s numbers don’t quite see the Big Ten in the same light.

  • With Ohio State sitting as the favorite to win the conference championship at -225 on BetMGM Sportsbook, the market is implying the Buckeyes have over a 60% chance of taking home the Big Ten crown.
  • PFF’s numbers also view Ohio State as the Big Ten favorite, but their odds of winning the Big Ten Championship (around 32%) is nearly half of the market’s implied probability.
  • Michigan came in at No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, but PFF believes the Jim Harbaugh-led squad is underrated. The Wolverines are a top-five team — along with the Buckeyes — in PFF’s ELO ranking.

Here is a look at the PFF projected win total for every Big Ten program compared to their win total posted on BetMGM Sportsbook. The further away from the black line, the more PFF disagrees with the posted win total.

All of these win totals listed on BetMGM Sportsbook are juiced in either direction. Here is where which listed win total is leaning:

Team PFF Win Total BetMGM Win Total BetMGM Juice 
Illinois 6.1 4.5 OVER -125
Indiana 4.7 4.5 UNDER -150
Iowa 6.9 7.5 UNDER  -115
Maryland 6.7 6 UNDER -120
Michigan 9.1 9.5 OVER -125
Michigan State 7.5 7.5 OVER -140
Minnesota 8 7.5 OVER -125
Nebraska 6.4 7.5 OVER -115
Northwestern 4.5 3.5 OVER -140
Ohio State 9.9 11 OVER -130
Penn State 7.2 8.5 UNDER -135
Purdue 7.6 7.5 UNDER -140
Rutgers 4.6 4 OVER -115
Wisconsin 7.3 8.5 OVER -140

Maryland Terrapins OVER 6 wins (+100)

Their schedule may be tough, but the Terps have one of the most underrated passing offenses in the country.

  • Taulia Tagovailoa took a massive step forward in 2021, displaying sharp decision-making, anticipation and timing en route to an elite 90.8 PFF grade.
  • Tagovailoa played over half of last season without wide receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Jeshaun Jones. Before those two got hurt in Weeks 5 and 6, they ranked fifth and sixth respectively among Big Ten wide receivers in PFF grade.
  • Wide receiver Rakim Jarrett — the second-highest-rated recruit Maryland has had this century behind only Stefon Diggs — is also a big breakout candidate for this season. He turned in a 75.0 receiving grade in his 2021 sophomore season.

Nebraska UNDER 7.5 wins (-105)

Many tapped Nebraska as the best 3-9 team of all time in 2021 because each loss was only by single digits. However, that has led to unreasonably heightened expectations for the Cornhuskers in 2022, especially given their offense.

  • Despite having the second-best odds to win the Big Ten West at several sportsbooks, Nebraska comes in with the fourth-best chances in PFF’s model.
  • Nebraska had the fifth-lowest-graded pass-blocking unit in the entire FBS last year. Their highest-graded player from that group — center Cam Jurgens — left for the NFL.
  • Starting quarterback Casey Thompson — a transfer from Texas — stood in the 33rd percentile in the Power Five in pressured passing grade for the Longhorns last year.

Penn State UNDER 8.5 wins (-135)

This may be too much juice to lay for some, but it’s a relatively safe bet to make for a Penn State team that has a suspect quarterback while facing a tough schedule.

  • Starting quarterback Sean Clifford can make plays with his legs when things start to break down, but he has proven to be an ineffective passer. He owns single-season passing grades of 69.3, 60.9 and 68.6 since 2019.
  • Penn State ranked 64th in the FBS in passing efficiency last season (they were also 121st when running the ball).
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