College football is right around the corner, which means it’s time to breakdown win totals, conference winners and other futures odds on DraftKings Sportsbook. Michigan is a team that’s been overlooked the last couple of seasons in the Big Ten, but have taken down Ohio State in the season finale in consecutive seasons to go on to win the conference championship game. With the rivals now considered close to equals when it comes to the odds, I feel it’s time to start backing the Wolverines to maintain their hold on the conference.
Big Ten Championship Game: Michigan (+175) — 1.5-units
Michigan is off consecutive Big Ten Championships, but the real title game always seems to be the final game of the regular season against Ohio State. The Wolverines have emerged victorious in consecutive seasons, despite being underdogs in both games. Last season was even more impressive, as the Wolverines trailed on the road at halftime before ripping off a 45-23 blowout win.
Michigan has clearly gone from the hunter to the hunted in the conference, but Ohio State (+170) still remains a very slight favorite to win the Big Ten, despite C.J. Stroud departing for the NFL. Even with all of the success in the Big Ten the last two seasons, the Wolverines still have a sour taste in their mouths when it comes to the ultimate goal. While achieving consecutive playoff births, Michigan has been bounced by eventual champion Georgia in 2021, then stunned by TCU in 2022.
The Big Ten East remains loaded this season, with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all considered legitimate contenders to make the College Football Playoff. Michigan is favored in every game this season, and would be considered a failure if it doesn’t get off to a 9-0 start. However, in the last two games of the season, the Wolverines travel to play at Penn State, then host the Buckeyes in the finale. Those will be the two crucial games to winning the conference.
With the Ohio State game at home, and a slew of returning talent, I do like Michigan to win this division. Eight starters return on the offensive side of the ball, including the junior quarterback — JJ McCarthy. On top of that, the offensive line is ranked No. 2 in the country by Phil Steele — while it loses some starters, it replaces them with polished starters from other schools. This could also be the best running back room in the country, with Heisman candidate Blake Corum returning to school, and Donovan Edwards still there to share time.
Seven starters return on defense as well, to a unit that could be even better than it was last season, leaving Michigan as my choice to emerge from this ultra-competitive division. If the Wolverines are able to accomplish that, they should be large favorites in the conference championship game, as they were last year against Purdue.
Michigan will have a chance to run the table again, but I think even an 11-1 season could be good enough here (it’ll depend if OSU/PSU slip up during the regular season). If the bet comes down to the OSU game on November 25, then I’m confident in riding this play out. A 12-13 win team that makes a CFP birth feels very reasonable.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment.