Examining Big Ten Conference Championship Futures Bets

(AP Photo)


College football “futures” betting is at the top of my list for finding value when it comes to sports betting. “Chalk” is the term used to describe a team that is favored over their competition. In the case of National Championship futures, the teams that would be considered “chalk” are Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. While most people believe that there is no value in betting chalk when it comes to winning the conference, making the college football playoffs or winning the national championship, casinos continue to be built and bookies continue to pay off their cars on the “Nebraska to win the national championship +4,000” lottery tickets people purchase. This is because Nebraska should really be around +40,000 instead of 4,000.



Betting on Nebraska to win the National Championship is equivalent to making a donation to your bookies new BMW. However, placing an affordable amount of money on them winning the B1G conference can actually provide a return on your investment. Scott Frost’s second year in Lincoln has his team priced at +1500 to win the conference. This is a reasonable price to bet into. Remember, Frost is a coach that only needed 2 years at Central Florida to turn them into a G5 juggernaut, going 13-0. While it is not likely for Nebraska to win the conference, it is certainly possible. Nebraska finished last season going 4-2 in their last 6 games with both losses coming by a combined 8 points. A couple lucky bounces and those two close losses turn into close wins over very strong Ohio State and Iowa teams.

Frost’s program returns 7 starters on offense and 6 on defense including the best quarterback in the conference in Adrian Martinez. Martinez completed 64.6% of his 347 pass attempts for 2,617 yards, while also rushing for 847 yards, and 8TD’s on 140 attempts. Nebraska will need to drastically improve their run defense that gave up 5.0 yards per carry last season but their defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is now in his second season as well at Nebraska and the players are more familiar.


While Nebraska is a bit of a long-shot in the B1G, and I am certainly considering dabbling a little bit of coin on them. This would set up a big return or possible hedging opportunity in the Championship Game. However, the best value will be with the Michigan State Spartans out of the East at +1000. With the departure of Dwayne Haskins, Urban Meyer, and four offensive lineman the Buckeyes will take a step back. They won’t be the powerhouse in the East we are used to seeing. Michigan is experienced and has some talent. However, we have yet to see Harbaugh deliver in the big games (one win and nine losses vs Top 10 teams). Ohio State is priced at +110 and Michigan is priced at +250. Ohio State is very overpriced at +110, and Michigan is about right.


While I anticipate regression from the +110 favorite Buckeyes, I also project the Michigan State Spartans to be much improved. In order to win the conference, Sparty needs to be better only on the offensive side of the ball. This team was very banged up last season losing 55 starts to injury/suspension. That was the third most in the country. One of the key players hurt last season was quarterback Brian Lewerke. Lewerke played through a shoulder aliment. He was not nearly as productive as he was before getting hurt against Penn State.

The even better news for Michigan State is that their offense does not need to be elite. They can lean on a defense that will be the best in college football. Sparty returns nine starters on a defense that ranked in the Top 3 in both DFEI and S&P+. These are two metrics that account for the productivity of each unit and the quality of their opponents. The defensive line will be the most elite unit on this Sparty team. It will give them a huge match-up advantage over the favorite Buckeyes, who have an unproven quarterback. Michigan State’s defensive front ranked #1 in the country last year in “Standard Downs Line Yard.” This means that when the opposing offense was “on track” to pick up a first down, Sparty dominated up front.


Betting on underdogs in the future market is very appealing to most recreational bettors. This is because there is more thrill and less perceived “risk.” But more often than not the underdogs are not going to bring you back to the window to collect. This year in the B1G you will see a lot of parity. The favorite Buckeyes are being overvalued due to the names on the front of the jersey and the stars by the players recruiting profiles. Their players and coaches have yet to prove themselves nearly across the board. Due to the proven production Michigan State has demonstrated by their players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball and projected better fortune offensively, this is one of the rare future bets warranted on an underdog. Nebraska is a strong lean.

My Bets:

Michigan State to win B1G Championship +1000


Nebraska +1500