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2021 Big Ten Football Favorites, Sleepers and Long Shots

By Carlos Chacon

Once again, the path to the 2021 Big Ten Championship heads to Columbus. It’s that time of the year again, and Ohio State stands tall as the favorite to win the league title. While the Buckeyes remain strong on paper, other teams are ready to fight for the top spot. Penn State and Indiana are not behind and are projected to finish well within the top 25 out of the East Division. Meanwhile, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Maryland will try to better their previous record.

Although the favorites are the go-to picks, there’s no reason to overlook the sleepers of the Big Ten. This season captures the interest of many football and betting fans due to several teams and staff changes that took place during the offseason. With updated rosters and improved programs, mid-tier teams can put more pressure on the favorites and at the same time provide good value bets.

Ultimately, NitroBetting gives you a better look at the field in this 2021 Big Ten Football preview. Get a low down of the favorites, sleepers, and longshot picks together with the odds and essential event details. Don’t forget to check outh the latest 2021 College Football odds at out online Bitcoin sportsbook.

2021 Big Ten College Football Preview

  • When: Saturday, September 4, 2021
  • TV: Big Ten Network, ABC, Fox Sports
  • Radio: SiriusXM Big Ten Radio
  • Live Stream: Big Ten Network

READ MORE: 2021 BIG 12 Football Favorites, Sleepers and Long Shots

2021 Big Ten Football Favorites

Ohio State Buckeyes

The dominant Ohio State is the team to beat in the Big Ten. They continue their lengthy winning streak in the regular season with Coach Ryan Day guiding the team. If the team can recruit another skilled quarterback and fix defensive lapses, the Buckeyes can book a ticket to the national title game. With a robust offensive line that emphasizes receiving, they are more than capable of dictating the attacking pace from the get-go. At the same time, defensive measures put up by tackle Haskell Garrett and end Zach Harrison makes for one of the best in college football. There are minor issues here and there, but we expect the team’s talent pool to cover for that once the season takes off.

Michigan Wolverines

After a significantly disappointing 2020 season, Michigan is back with a vengeance following Jim Harbaugh’s revamp. This should help the team get back on track and improve the recruiting side. Their first challenge of the season against Washington allowed us to see how far the program improved. Hassan Haskins, Blake Corum, and freshman Donovan Edwards will take care of the backfield while receiver Ronnie Bell covers the outside.

Pair this with several quarterback talents and Michigan becomes a good threat to any of the top teams. Despite giving up 34.5 points a game and 5.5 yards a play. However, the group gets more backup with the new play-caller, Mike Macdonald. Combine the return of end Aidan Hutchinson and safety Dax Hill, Michigan is primed for a bright year.

2021 Big Ten Football Sleepers

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Golden Gophers failed to build off a great start in 2019, but as things begin to level this year, the team remains hopeful for a positive season. Play-calling duties have been handed over to Mike Sanford Jr. As soon as the team gets traction, we should see some improvement from their 5.7 yards per play in 2020. Quarterback Tanner Morgan’s tandem with running back Mohamed Ibrahim is locked in and ready to help Minnesota recover.

Looking over the defensive side, the Golden Gophers struggled last year despite holding Big Ten opponents to 20.1 points a game in 2019. Thanks to All-Big Ten candidates Boye Mafe, Mariano Sori-Marin, and Coney Durr, the defensive line has the potential to challenge the best offenses.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers showed improvement following American coach Greg Schiano’s return. After winning only three conference games between 2016 and 2019, the Scarlet Knights secured three wins last season. Sean Gleeson pumped up Rutgers’ average from 5.7 in conference-online matchups in 2019 to 26.7 points a game in 2020. If this trend carries on along with the growth of quarterback Noah Vedral, running back Isaih Pacheco, and receiver Bo Melton, we might be in for several upsets this season.

In hindsight, the Scarlet Knights did well to force 19 turnovers last season. If this defense can reproduce this performance in 2021, they should be able to eliminate big plays. Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi brings experience to the table and gets another chance at leading the defense.

2021 Big Ten Football Longshot

Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers were one of the highlights in college football last season. This time around they try to go for another top-25 finish for the first time in over 60 years. Given that quarterback Michael Penix returns from injury, the Hoosiers should be proactive on offense. Receiver Ty Fryfogle and four other starters get a chance to fortify Indiana’s ground game. As a longshot pick, Indiana’s defense holds up to high standards. They were able to limit teams to 20.2 points a game last year and saw the return of nine starters, including cornerback Tiawan Mullen and linebacker Micah McFadden. Several transfers will further safeguard the line.

Expert’s Prediction for 2021 Big Ten Football

The 2021 Big Ten Football season promises plenty of action in the coming weeks. If you want to give a run for your money, going for the sleepers might be more your taste. Minnesota and Rutgers look good as they head into the season, while longshot Indiana has a small window of opportunity to surprise everyone with a win. Nevertheless, if you want to stay on the safer side of things, picking up the favorites should yield good results.

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