After two somewhat disappointing campaigns, the Ohio State Buckeyes are hoping to bounce back in 2017 and put themselves in position for their second national championship in four years.
The Buckeyes have failed to make it to the Big Ten Championship Game the past two years yet find themselves as strong -120 favorites to take home the title this year, according to oddsmakers.
Last year, Ohio State lost a tiebreaker with the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Big Ten East, with each of them finishing at 8-1 in conference play. The Buckeyes still made their way into the College Football Playoff semifinals though, getting blanked by the eventual national champion Clemson Tigers 31-0 to end up 11-2 overall.
This year, defending Big Ten champ Penn State returns quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley, who has already set school records for most rushing yards by a freshman and sophomore. Barkley looks to be one of the early favorites to win the Heisman Trophy along with Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, with both players sitting at +800.
The Nittany Lions are the +550 co-third choice to repeat as conference champs with the Michigan Wolverines.
The Wolverines lost a thrilling double-overtime affair against the Buckeyes 30-27 in their annual rivalry game a year ago and have yet to get to the Big Ten Championship Game since Jim Harbaugh became their head coach. Michigan went 7-2 in the Big Ten East last season behind Ohio State and Penn State and 10-3 overall.
The Wisconsin Badgers are the +375 second choice to win the Big Ten, mostly because they compete in the conference’s West Division. The Badgers have played in two of the last three Big Ten Championship Games as the West representative, losing 38-31 to the Nittany Lions in 2016 after blowing a 28-7 lead.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers, Iowa Hawkeyes and Northwestern Wildcats are the top challengers for Wisconsin in the West. The Cornhuskers are the +1600 co-fifth choice to win the Big Ten with the Wildcats, while the Hawkeyes are right behind them at +2000.