Big Ten Championship 2018 Betting: Expect a Tighter Game

Big Ten Championship 2018 Betting: Expect a Tighter Game

Quick Tips

  • Bet Northwestern +14 over Ohio State at SugarHouse.
  • Bet Northwestern-Ohio State over 60.5 at SugarHouse.

Not many predicted the match-up of Ohio State vs. Northwestern for this year’s Big Ten Football Championship. But after a season of ups and downs, the preseason frontrunner and conference dark horse will square off in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Northwestern locked things up relatively early winning the West Division two weeks ago. In reality, coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad has played one truly meaningful game in the last four weeks thanks to taking care of business with conference wins coupled with stumbles by division contenders Wisconsin, Iowa and Purdue.

Ohio State’s rocky road to the championship began with head coach Urban Meyer’s three game suspension to start the year in the aftermath of assistant coach Zach Smith’s domestic abuse controversy. The Buckeyes made it through the early going only to lose in a big way to Purdue 49-20, a loss that at the time looked like the end of OSU’s title hopes. But the team rebounded and after pounding Michigan into submission last week winning “The Game” 62-39, Ohio State has a shot at the conference crown.

What to Consider About the Teams

The Buckeyes got their offense back on track against Michigan and in a big way. After getting beat by Purdue, struggles against Nebraska and Maryland caused concern for OSU fans. The Michigan win and the 69 points put on the board, against at the time the top defense in the nation, was a return to form.

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins continued his outstanding season throwing for 396 yards and six touchdowns (41 this year) in the win over Michigan. Parris Campbell caught six passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for 78 yards. There was one downside last week when offensive lineman Demetrious Nox was injured late in the game. He will not play Saturday replaced by Wyatt Davis.

Northwestern comes into the game an astonishing 15-1 in its last 16 Big Ten games but remains a heavy underdog. Fitzgerald embraces that role and has used it as motivation and incentive on a nearly annual basis during his Northwestern tenure. Whether or not that intangible manifests itself on the conference’s biggest stage Saturday night remains to be seen.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson, who has thrown for 2675 yards, along with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and a 60% completion rate, leads the Wildcats offense. Thorson is not flashy by any means and his approach is more of a methodical and steady nature. Flynn Nagal, who has 746 yard on 64 receptions, and 2 touchdowns, is Thorson’s favorite target. Bennett Skowronek is next on the team with 514 yards and 3 touchdowns.

For Northwestern to be successful, the attack has to be well rounded and not dependent on simply the passing game. That’s where running back Isaiah Bowser, who has 736 yards on 161 carries and 6 touchdowns, plays a huge part on whether an upset can happen in Indy. The freshman was forced into action halfway through the season when former RB Jeremy Larkin was forced to retire from neck injuries.

Northwestern’s defense can make an important difference. It’s a workmanlike group that has only had 34 penalties this year, a key factor in not giving opponents additional opportunities.

Best 2018 Big Ten Championship Game Bets

Point Spread

The Wildcats are tough customers. They might be 6-4 against the spread this season, but they’ve beaten or pushed the spread on all the big games this season. This game should be no different so bet Northwestern +14 at SugarHouse.

Over/Under

SugarHouse has this line at 60.5. Ohio State had that number covered by itself last week against Michigan. The potential is there for this one to get out of hand early and if so, OSU will again light up the board. But Thorson and Bowser will have their opportunities to score as well and don’t discount Northwestern’s defense coming up with some points as well. Bet the over of 60.5 at SugarHouse.

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