Big Ten: over-unders 13

By now, you've surely had a chance to check out our over-under picks for win totals in the Legends division and Leaders division.

We let Vegas set the over-unders for those posts. Now it's time to have some fun and make our own list. Ready for some random Big Ten over-unders heading into the 2013 season? As a reminder, these numbers apply to the regular season only.

Leggo ...

Michigan State starting quarterbacks

Over-under: 2

Adam's take: Push. Like many, I expect senior Andrew Maxwell to start Michigan State's season opener, but I see the Spartans turning to another signal-caller at some point this season. Perhaps it's Connor Cook or maybe true freshman Damion Terry, but I think we'll see several players taking snaps for the green and white this fall.

Brian's take: Over. The key word here is "starting." I'd go to Vegas right now if the line was two playing, because I expect at least two different starters and for three to play. Still, I can see a situation where Maxwell begins the season, Tyler O'Connor starts down the road and maybe Terry gets a start toward the end.

Taylor Martinez touchdowns + turnovers

Over-under: 50

Adam's take: Under. Martinez had 33 touchdowns and 20 turnovers (12 interceptions, 8 lost fumbles) in 14 games in 2012, so it's reasonable he could approach this number as a senior. I tend to think Martinez's turnover total finally drops, while his touchdown total remains about the same. Nebraska fans would gladly take this from one of the nation's most experienced quarterbacks.

Brian's take: Under. I think Martinez will have a very good year and the turnovers will go down, especially with fewer marquee games on the road. I also think he could sit more in the fourth quarter earlier in the year when Nebraska's schedule isn't too taxing, outside of the UCLA game. That could affect his touchdown total.

Big Ten players ejected for targeting under new policy

Over-under: 2.5

Adam's take: Over. Although Illinois safety Earnest Thomas was the only Big Ten player ejected for targeting in 2012, I expect the number to rise in Year 1 of the new penalty structure. The officials want to get their point across, and while offseason education can help, the strongest messages will be sent after the games begin. I see multiple ejections during non-league play and another during a Big Ten game.

Brian's take: Under. Big Ten officials did their best to instruct teams on how the new rule will be enforced, and surely coaches have stressed it all season long. Ultimately, I think officials will be hesitant to throw guys out of a game and that players will respond by being a little more cautious with their hits.

Braxton Miller rushing attempts

Over-under: 188

Brian's take: Over. The 188 number works out to a little more than 15 carries per game. That seems like a good target number this year for Miller, who has more weapons in the passing game this year and will be joined by Carlos Hyde after three games. Still, this is a team with national title hopes, and Miller running the ball remains the offense's most-dangerous weapon. There are going to be games when he gets 20-to-25 carries out of necessity, and Ohio State is asking him to scramble more as well.

Adam's take: Over. Miller won't approach the 227 carries he recorded in 2012 as Ohio State's primary ball-carrier. Buckeyes coaches expect Miller to make strides as a passer with Corey Brown, Dontre Wilson and a deeper receiving corps. Still, Miller will carry the offense with his legs in a few games and end up with about 200 carries.

Chris Borland takeaways (interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries)

Over-under: 7.5

Brian's take: Under. I love Borland, but that's a big number. He had six last year and seven in 2011, and Wisconsin played 14 games both years. I'll put his final regular-season number at six this year.

Adam's take: Over. I expect Borland to give us the most Borland-y season ever as he caps an incredible college career. He has had a hand in at least six takeaways in each of his first three seasons. I fully expect Borland to break the FBS career forced fumbles record (needs one to tie), and he should be a bigger factor in pass coverage this year, where he'll grab two interceptions. I see Borland finishing with nine total takeaways.

Indiana defensive points allowed

Over-under: 29 points per game

Brian's take: Over. Indiana hasn't allowed fewer than 29 points per game since 2007, which coincidentally was the last time the Hoosiers went bowling. They allowed 35.2 ppg a year ago. I see that number coming down this year, as Kevin Wilson has brought in some athletic young players on defense and should have a decent secondary. But games against potential offensive powers like Missouri, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan could skew the stats for a final number around 30 per game. Luckily, Indiana should average more than 30 ppg on offense.

Adam's take: Over. Things are slowly getting better for the much-maligned Hoosiers defense, but the unit still isn't there yet. Indiana's powerful up-tempo offense probably won't help matters, as the IU defense will log plenty of field time. If Indiana ends up slightly over, it still could be in good shape because of its potent offense.

Devin Gardner's rushing totals

Over-under: 400 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Adam's take: Under. It's actually an over-under pick, as I agree that Gardner will eclipse 400 rush yards, but not by much. But I expect offensive coordinator Al Borges to be extremely cautious with No. 12, as Gardner is the Big Ten's most indispensable player. Borges will turn to Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green near the goal line, and Gardner won't end up rushing for more than 10 scores.

Brian's take: Over. I don't think Michigan will be calling for a ton of designed quarterback runs given the depth situation. But 400 yards amounts to a little more than 33 yards per game. While some sack yardage will hurt his totals, Gardner can get to that number on scrambles alone. He also ran for seven touchdowns while starting just five games last season, so I'll say he gets to double digits in rushing scores as well.

Iowa AIRBHG strikes

Over-under: 2

Brian's take: Over. We never want to predict any injuries, but the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God doesn't limit his vengeance to just turned ankles and sprained knees. The Hawkeyes have seen their backs transfer, get suspended and all manner of other problems that thin the position. Iowa enters 2013 with a much deeper stable of ball-carriers, but it's hard to ignore the history and voodoo at work here.

Adam's take: Under. AIRBHG has scorched the earth long enough in Iowa City. His reign of terror mercifully ends this season. It's hard to expect zero injuries at a position like running back in the Big Ten, but I expect only one such problem for the Hawkeyes, who lean on Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock and Co. all season.
By now, you've digested our over-under picks for the Legends Division. Now it's time to turn our attention to the Leaders.

Here's how this works: Bovada Sportsbook provided baseline totals for regular-season wins only for every Big Ten. We decide (without actually betting money) if we think each team will finish above or below that baseline -- or hit it exactly, in some cases.

Let's get started ...

Illinois

Over-under: 3.5 wins


Brian's pick: Under. Outside of Southern Illinois and Miami (Ohio), the Illini likely won't be favored in any other game this season. I believe they will be a better team than last season's disaster, but that might only translate into a 3-9 type of year.

Adam's pick: Under. I agree that the Illini should be better -- they can't get much worse than last season -- but the Big Ten schedule isn't forgiving with crossover games against Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern. The Illini get their two most winnable league games (Indiana and Purdue) on the road. I also see 3-9.

Indiana

Over-under: 5.5 wins


Adam's pick: Over. I realize I'm going against recent history here as Indiana has reached six wins just once since the 1994 season. But momentum is building in Bloomington, and the combination of a schedule featuring eight home games, a more experienced roster, and improved recruiting gets Indiana to a bowl game. The Hoosiers stumble once in non-league play, but record an upset in the Big Ten campaign to reach 6-6.

Brian's pick: Over. The schedule worries me, but I like the direction Kevin Wilson's team is trending. If the Hoosiers can go 3-1 in the nonconference portion, I think they can find three more wins (Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue all come to Bloomington) in Big Ten play to reach their first bowl game since 2007.

Ohio State

Over-under: 11 wins


Brian's pick: Push. I'm not quite sure where it will happen, but I believe Ohio State will stub its toe at least once this season. Going undefeated once is extremely difficult; doing it two years in a row is almost unheard of. The Buckeyes still finish 11-1 and go on to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.

Adam's pick: Push. Ohio State will be favored to run the table again, but as you note, that just doesn't happen very often in college football in any league. This team nearly lost three or four games in 2012, and someone will knock off the Fightin' Urbans. The Buckeyes finish 11-1, but easily win the Leaders division.

Penn State

Over-under: 8 wins


Adam's pick: Push. Penn State's starting 22 is as strong as anyone's in the Big Ten, even with the quarterback questions. But the Lions have a tough cross-division draw with Michigan and Nebraska, and must visit division heavyweights Ohio State and Wisconsin. Penn State goes 1-3 against the big four, but drops a game it shouldn't to finish 8-4.

Brian's pick: Push. I see the Nittany Lions getting off to a great start, possibly even 6-0. But I think the lack of depth will take its toll down the stretch, and another 8-4 season is in the works for Bill O'Brien's crew.

Purdue

Over-under: 5.5 wins


Brian's pick: Under. I like what Darrell Hazell is building in West Lafayette. I just really, really don't like the schedule. Seven of the first eight games are extremely difficult, and the Boilers are going to take some lumps early. A 5-7 record would be completely understandable this season.

Adam's pick: Under. It'll be a rough first go-round for Hazell, as the first two months provide few if any reprieves for his transitioning team. Purdue has some great players, but not enough good or experienced ones to navigate this meat grinder of a schedule.

Wisconsin

Over-under: 9 wins


Adam's pick: Under. I see the Badgers winning eight or nine games, but I can't be so agreeable with my guy Bennett, so I'm going eight. There are certain weaknesses that concern me with the Badgers -- wide receiver, offensive line depth, the secondary -- and I think they'll show up later in the season in potentially tricky matchups like BYU, Minnesota and Penn State.

Brian's pick: Push. The schedule is mostly favorable for Gary Andersen's team, but I see the Badgers losing on the road at Arizona State and at Ohio State, and then dropping another one along the way (Northwestern, maybe?). They go 9-3 and finish as the Leaders Division runners-up.
The season is rapidly approaching now, so we're unveiling some of our official predictions, beginning with the always fun over-under picks.

Here's how this works: Bovada Sportsbook provided baseline totals for regular-season wins only for every Big Ten team. We decide (without actually betting money) if we think each team will finish above or below that baseline -- or hit it exactly, in some cases.

We'll start off with the Legends Division.

Iowa

Over-under: 5.5 wins

Brian's pick: Under. By saying over, of course, you're saying Iowa will get back to a bowl game this year. I think that's a realistic outlook for the Hawkeyes this season, especially with a strong running game expected to lead the way. Still, I see a lot of bumps in the road in conference play for Iowa, and I wonder if there are enough playmakers on the defensive line. So I'll go with the under, as a 5-7 season in a loaded division seems more likely.

Adam's pick: Under. I went back and forth on this one as 5.5 really is the perfect opening number for the Hawkeyes (well done, Bovada). Iowa's Big Ten home schedule includes no gimmes (Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan). While an upset or two wouldn't surprise me, I also think Iowa stumbles once in non-league play and loses to a team it shouldn't. Just too many question marks for a team playing in the better division. Iowa ends up at 5-7.

Michigan

Over-under: 8.5 wins

Adam's pick: Over. Like many Big Ten teams, Michigan should have a rather spiffy record entering the month of November. If the Wolverines can get at least a split against Notre Dame and Penn State, they'll be 6-1 as they begin a season-defining stretch. Depth is a concern as Michigan lacks it at quarterback, wide receiver and on the interior lines. Part of me thinks Michigan's roster remains a year away from greatness, but I expect at least nine wins from Brady Hoke's crew.

Brian's pick: Over. I really like the schedule, which includes most of the big games (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State) at the Big House, where Hoke is undefeated as head coach. I think the Wolverines could easily be a 10-win club and will definitely get at least nine victories in 2013.

Michigan State

Over-under: 8.5 wins

Brian's pick: Under. The Spartans should increase their win total over last year, when they got a whole bunch of bad breaks (some, admittedly, self-inflicted) in close games. Their defense will keep them highly competitive each week. But I've still got major questions about that offense, and I don't think the quarterback play is going to be good enough for them to finish better than 8-4.

Adam's pick: Over. Maybe I should have learned my lesson from last year, and I agree that the Spartans' offense has some major questions to address. But it wouldn't surprise me if Max Bullough and the Michigan State defense is even stingier than it was in 2012 (tough to do). Some of those close games will go Michigan State's way, and the schedule allows the offense some time to figure things out before the stretch run. I have MSU upsetting Notre Dame on the road (final score: 10-9) and going 9-3.

Minnesota

Over-under: 5.5 wins

Adam's pick: Over. I nearly went the other way here as I don't see many victories in Minnesota's final seven games. But Jerry Kill will record a signature win of sorts along the way, and Minnesota could start 4-0 or 5-0 before the Jug game at the Big House. I see the Gophers finishing 6-6 again but having a better team than in 2012.

Brian's pick: Over. The Gophers are a potential surprise team this season, although they've got to stay afloat in a hostile division. This should easily be Kill's best team, and a soft nonconference schedule should lead to a six-win season at worst.

Nebraska

Over-under: 9.5 wins

Brian's pick: Over. It wouldn't shock me if the Huskers went 11-1 or if they finished 8-4. This has become an unpredictable bunch, even more so this year because of a wildly inexperienced defense. But Nebraska has a great chance to start 7-0 and only has two intimidating road games (at Michigan and at Penn State). Bo Pelini guided last year's team to 10 regular-season wins against a tougher schedule, and I say he does it again.

Adam's pick: Over. This is a fairly easy pick because of the schedule, which sets up for Nebraska to start at least 7-0, provided it gets past UCLA in Week 3. The Huskers will stumble a bit in November as the competition level goes up, but barring major injuries, they'll record double-digit wins for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

Northwestern

Over-under: 8.5 wins

Adam's pick: Over. I'm pretty bullish on the Legends division, especially in non-conference play, and I envision another strong start for Pat Fitzgerald's crew. Northwestern is a better team playing a tougher schedule, and there are five featured games: Ohio State (home), Wisconsin (road), Nebraska (road), Michigan (home) and Michigan State (home). Even if Northwestern goes 2-3 in that stretch, I see it winning the games it should and finishing 9-3.

Brian's pick: Under. The Wildcats could make me look silly here, as they have the talent and experience to win the Legends Division. But the schedule, which includes crossover games versus Ohio State and at Wisconsin along with the Legends powers, is unforgiving. And it makes me think Northwestern will finish 8-4 this season.

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