Big Ten football betting: Key trends to watch this season

When you think of college football in early August, you often think of team season win totals or the futures markets pertaining to winning the Heisman Trophy or the national championship. What I like to do for college football prep is look for ways I can bet on or against teams throughout a season.

For example, I wrote about fading West Virginia on the road last year after the Mountaineers went 0-4 straight up and 1-3 ATS in 2020. It turned out to be a profitable trend that carried over into 2021. West Virginia went 2-4 both straight up and ATS. I look for information that may not necessarily pertain to a futures wager but is actionable when the time comes.

Focusing on the Big Ten this week, I have a couple of nuggets that could be of use down the road.

Backing Indiana team total unders

More often than not, value lies in looking at schools that aren’t making noise because what value could a 2-10 team bring to the table? Well, I see an opportunity to continue riding the fade train.

The Hoosiers had winning seasons in 2019 and 2020, but took a hard turn in 2021 with only two wins over FCS squad Idaho and Western Kentucky. The Hoosiers lost eight straight and there is a chance the streak continues, but I see the potential for few points being scored en route to those losses.

Last year, Indiana was 114th in rushing yards and 110th in passing yards. This year, the Hoosiers lost their top backs and receivers, and replaced their offensive coordinator. They also will have a new offensive line and a new quarterback in Mizzou transfer Connor Bazelak.

Bazelak does have a 66 percent career completion percentage but also has 17 interceptions against 23 passing scores. Here’s where the team total under comes in. Those interceptions could certainly be an issue as Indiana faces at least five defenses that were in the top half for forcing interceptions last year. It will also face eight defenses that were in the top half in fewest opponent yards per play and nine defenses in the top half in limiting opponent points per game — six of which were in the top 30.

Indiana ended the 2021 season tied for seventh in most punts per game, ranked fourth worst in giveaways, and averaged 13.7 points per game (second worst in FBS).

New parts in nearly every unit could be a positive, but in a complete rebuild season, I’ll be looking to fade the Hoosiers. The schedule is pretty brutal, too, with games against Cincinnati, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State.

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano talks to reporters during Big Ten media days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 27, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Fading Rutgers ATS at home

Under head coach Greg Schiano in his third year back, Rutgers is 8-14 straight-up and 11-11 ATS. However, Rutgers is 2-9 SU and 3-8 ATS at home. In the last two seasons, the Scarlet Knights have been ranked 106th and 120th in total offense and averaged 27 and 17 points per game, and quarterback Noah Vedral has passed for 16 total touchdowns against 15 interceptions. This year, they lose their top running back and receiver, top tackle and one of their top two pass rushers. Why mention some of the defensive players lost? If the defense struggles, the offense won’t have opportunities. If the offense struggles, the defense will tire.

The schedule isn't great for Rutgers either. The Scarlet Knights are likely to be double-digit underdogs quite a bit this season, but looking at just the home games, Rutgers faces Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan and Penn State. Fading double-digit underdogs can be risky, but that shouldn't keep me from backing opponents as big favorites if the shoe fits.

Another way to fade Indiana and Rutgers

If you like playing favorites in parlays, then you can use the opponents of the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights as legs in your moneyline parlay. Depending on the size of the favorites, you may need a few teams, but if there is one thing I know about Gambling Twitter, folks love eight-to-10 team parlays. You can also add Ohio State to that list of parlay legs. Under Ryan Day, the Buckeyes are 23-1 at home, though just 14-10 ATS.

Backing Ohio State team total overs

Last year, the Buckeyes were first in points per game, third in passing yards, fourth in yards per pass attempt, and first in points per play. QB C.J Stroud is legit and there’s no reason to believe this offense won’t be as dangerous this year. Looking at the last four seasons, the Buckeyes have trended toward an over team, going 13-7-1 in the last two years (fifth-best in the FBS at 65 percent) after finishing 14-14 the previous two seasons.

The 2021 Buckeyes were first in offensive touchdowns scored. This could be helpful for backing the team total over because they will face six teams outside the top 50 in offensive touchdowns allowed.

I’ll be looking at Stroud touchdown props, as well, starting Week 2 when Ohio State faces Arkansas State, which ranked 80th last year in passing defense and eighth-worst in touchdowns allowed.