Iowa over 8.5 wins (-115): This pick mostly has to do with the schedule. The Hawkeyes avoid Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan in the East. Their toughest non-conference game is at Pittsburgh. Starting 10-0 is a really possibility for Iowa before hosting Wisconsin and Nebraska to end the season. The Hawkeyes return most of their offensive contributors including quarterback Jake Rudock and running back Mark Weisman.
Penn State under 7.5 wins (even): Penn State may have hit a home run by hiring James Franklin when Bill O’Brien left for the NFL. Franklin will do a fine job with the program in the near future. Christian Hackenberg is an exciting quarterback but sanctions and loss of scholarships will effect the Nittany Lions. Penn State lacks quality depth on their roster especially at offensive line and on defense. They play their first game in Dublin against Central Florida and then play the next weekend at home. The conference schedule could be worse but they are in the stronger of the two divisions.
Northwestern under 7.5 wins (-150): Northwestern lost a lot of games last season that could’ve gone either way. They finished 5-7 and Pat Fitzgerald’s program regressed.The Wildcats are already shorthanded this season as running back Venric Mark left the program and wide receiver Christian Jones suffered a season-ending injury. Northwestern’s road games include Penn State, Iowa and Notre Dame. They host Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan. Never mind winning eight games. I’m not sure the Wildcats will be bowl eligibly this season.
Wisconsin over 9.5 wins (-150): Wisconsin has a similar conference schedule to Iowa where they avoid the big boys in the East. They open against an inexperienced LSU team in Houston. Quarterback Tanner McEvoy won the starting job over Joel Stave. Uncertainty about McEvoy is why Wisconsin isn’t a best bet to win 10 or more games.
Nebraska under 8 wins (even): Nebraska is a program that expects to compete for national championships but instead they are consistently winning eight or nine games. This year could be even more of a struggle with Tommy Armstrong at quarterback. Nebraska plays at Michigan State early in conference play along with November road games at Wisconsin and Iowa. The Cornhuskers seem like a seven-win team who could reach eight at best.
1. Michigan State
2. Ohio State
5. Penn State