Over-unders: Leaders Division

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
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On Thursday, we presented you with the over-under win totals for each Legends Division team. So naturally we turn our attention today to the Leaders Division.

A couple of things to keep in mind here. One, we're using the over-unders set by Bodog Sports for every team except Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue. For those teams we made our own lines. Also, these are regular-season win totals only, so potential bowl games don't count.

Let's dive in to the Leaders, shall we?

Illinois Fighting Illini
Over-under wins: 7

Brian Bennett: Over

Oh, that schedule. The first five games at home, a very manageable road slate and no Nebraska or Michigan State. This season is set up for at least eight wins if the Illini are as good or better than they were a year ago.

Adam Rittenberg: Over

I nearly went with a push here, but I also see the Illini maximizing on an extremely favorable schedule. They should be no worse than 5-1 and possibly 6-0 when Ohio State visits Champaign on Oct. 15. Nathan Scheelhaase will be an even more dangerous quarterback, and while the defense has some question marks, Illinois finally strings together two successful seasons.

Indiana Hoosiers
Over-under wins: 4

Brian Bennett: Push.

The Hoosiers won five a year ago, and new head coach Kevin Wilson is impressive. But IU has a brutal road slate (at Ohio State, at Michigan State, at Wisconsin, at Iowa), and their nonconference game against Virginia is a toss-up. I think Wilson does good things in Bloomington but has a humble beginning.

Adam Rittenberg: Push

The schedule concerns me, although Indiana will pull off at least one fairly significant upset in the Big Ten. I just don't think the Hoosiers have enough at quarterback to consistently put up points, and while the defense should be a bit better, the track record on that side of the ball concerns me. This team wins 3-5 games, so I'll go right in the middle.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Over-under wins: 9

Brian Bennett: Under.

Darn you, Vegas! I think a 9-win season is about right for the Buckeyes, but I don't want to keep using the dreaded push bet. So I'm going under, because it seems more likely that Ohio State goes 8-4 than 10-2 given all the changes the program experienced this offseason. I realize this is almost certainly a losing wager, however.

Adam Rittenberg: Over

After watching Ohio State dominate this league for a decade, I think I need to actually see the Buckeyes stumble before believing it. Ohio State might need to win a lot of games 17-13, but the defense once again will be solid and the run game should be, too. The Buckeyes will lose a crossover game, but their home schedule in the division is really beneficial. Will 10 wins be enough for Luke Fickell to remain Buckeyes coach?

Penn State Nittany Lions
Over-under wins: 8

Brian Bennett: Push.

Another stinking push. I don't see Penn State going 7-5 in the regular season again -- the Nittany Lions have to get some better luck with their health, don't they -- but 9-3 or better seems lofty, especially with Alabama on the nonconference slate. So I'll wuss out and say 8-4.

Adam Rittenberg: Under

Penn State fans are going to kill me, but I have some concerns, both from a personnel standpoint and with the schedule. Line play is an issue and there are questions in the offensive backfield. Alabama will be a very tough test, and the closing stretch -- Nebraska, at Ohio State, at Wisconsin -- is absolutely brutal. This will be a better Penn State team, but it could have the same record.

Purdue Boilermakers
Over-under wins: 5

Brian Bennett: Over

Danny Hope and the Boilers really need to get back to a bowl, and I say they do this year. The first three games (Middle Tennessee, Rice, Southeast Missouri State) are extremely winnable, and if Purdue can find a way to knock off Notre Dame at home, it should be on its way to the postseason.

Adam Rittenberg: Over

The opening stretch you mention gives Purdue a chance to build some confidence before the Notre Dame game, which provides a true barometer of the Boilers' potential. While I don't see Purdue challenging for the Leaders division, it will get back to a bowl game for the first time since 2007. A 7-5 mark seems about right.

Wisconsin Badgers
Over-under wins: 9

Brian Bennett: Over

I was reluctant to go over or take the push with Nebraska at 10, but I feel better about Wisconsin's chances. The Badgers won 11 a year ago and should be able to match that if they can go at least 2-1 against the Huskers, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Adam Rittenberg: Over

I feel pretty confident in this pick after watching the Badgers practice earlier this week. They need Russell Wilson to stay healthy, but they'll sweep the nonconference portion and likely won't lose a game at home. Wisconsin probably splits its back-to-back road night games against Michigan State and Ohio State, but the Badgers win 10 or 11 in the regular season.

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