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Predicting Big Ten East Win Totals for 2015

The time comes to dive into Big Ten East win totals. Do the Wolverines win more than seven games, or will Harbaugh and Co. struggle in 2015?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
It's rather simple, folks. Vegas sportsbooks set each college football team at a certain number of wins (yes, halves count in this equation) for the regular season, and you choose over or under that figure.

For those unfamiliar with the +/-, it refers to the wager price. If you like the Hoosiers to fall under six wins at a -210 price, you'd be paying 210 dollars for a $100 return. Like the over at +160? You'd win $160 on a 100-dollar bet.

A vast majority of discussion is pick-and-choose, if you must. Some rankings, a bit of schedule talk, and ultimately what I'd be placing money on. Beginning with the East, here is my rather 'loose take' (lines via 5Dimes).

Indiana 6 (Over +160/Under -210)
2014 Record: 6-6

Players to Watch: QB Nate Sudfeld, WR Simmie Cobbs

If you're wondering how massive a blow it is to lose a starting quarterback to injury, take a glance at the Hoosiers' 2014 offensive statistics.

With Nate Sudfeld at the helm under center, Indiana began the year 3-2, surpassing the 28-point clip in all but one contest, a 37-15 defeat to the hands of Maryland. A season-ending injury against Iowa, and the numbers would plummet, as the Hoosiers would fail to strike that four-score number as the season progressed.

Luckily, Sudfeld will be full-go, but some red flags arise as IU will hope to renovate a depleted offense, primarily with the loss of running back Tevin Coleman and wide receivers Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner.

They bring in UAB transfer Jordan Howard to fill in the hole at tailback and will hopefully round out the receiving corps with J-Shun Harris and Simmie Cobbs, but the skill position will be a tad inexperienced, not to mention the defense appeared lackluster in regards to the Cream and Crimson Spring Game, an area that's plagued the program for a handful of seasons.

This may not be the high-octane offense that supplies a go-to guy like Wynn in 2015, but Cobbs and Harris both look to pick up the slack, along with Howard, who rushed for over 1,300 yards as a Blazer.

I can (reluctantly) see four consecutive wins to open up the campaign before clashing with Ohio State and Penn State, but jumbled in the docket lies Maryland, Iowa, Rutgers, Michigan and Purdue, and I believe the Hoosiers can scrape up the remnants to push past the 6 wins, as we're snagging some value with the 'over.'

Pick: Indiana Hoosiers Over 6 Wins (+160)

Maryland 4 (Over -125/Under -115)

2014 Record: 7-5

Players to Watch: WR Levern Jacobs, DB William Likely

Entering their second semester as a Big 10 program, the Maryland Terrapins look to build off a respectable 7-5 season crowded around the Monsters of the Midway.

The question is will they?

For beginners, seven wins is nothing for coach Randy Edsall to droop his head on, however, the Terps may have fallen on the long end of the stick in 2014, as four wins came by a touchdown or less, the others to Indiana, Syracuse and James Madison, while the net margin of loss was calculated at 20.2 points of defeat.

The offense will whip up fresh faces all throughout with Caleb Rowe--or Daxx Garman--at quarterback, and it's been pure mayhem: Marcus Leak, Juwann Winfree, and Jaquille Veii, all gone for 2015.


It will be nice however to return defensive back William Likely, but with the depleted defensive line, the pressure mounts for the secondary.

They'll open up their expedition with Richmond, then intertwine with some crafty opponents.

A mid-major in Bowling Green, yet Dino Babers' club possesses a high-tempo offense capable of producing fits for opposing defenses, so I wouldn't be marking up a slash in the win column just yet, although Maryland should be respectable favorite.

Things then get quite hectic, as the gauntlet seems endless with West Virginia, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

The athletes on offense in fact cause me to double take, as they carry the potential to break out their shell (no pun intended), but I'll take a stab at the under, and this one could look great if Bowling Green can oust Maryland prior to their daunting Big 10 trial.

Pick: Maryland Terrapins Under 4 Wins (-115)

Michigan Wolverines (Over 7 -135/Under -105)

2014 Record: 5-7

Players to Watch: ATH Ty Isaac, DB Jabrill Peppers

Well, here it is, Ann Arbor.

I can't exactly tell fibs here: Michigan emerges as my next topic and I begin to blush like a schoolgirl, primarily because my honest takes will come before my fan hood. So here it is.

The rebirth, the reincarnation. Jim Harbaugh strolls into Schembechler Hall and automatically grasps a portion of the Big 10 title for 2015, huh?

I can certainly buy the hype of greeting in not only a successful ringleader, but an former Wolverine that will certainly overcome the hearts of the fan base. I'm also sure that fans believe 7 or even 7.5 is a bit skimpy. I'm pretty iffy about it.


I grew up a Michigan fan, as I had the luxury of sauntering into the Big House to scan the Maize and Blue, a history enriched on tradition and notching countless wins, yet the previous decade has wilted like a flower in the blistering cold.

The days of Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards were quickly swapped with inefficiency stemming from the front office to the coaching staff all the way down to the string of hit-or-miss offensive players.

The tide will turn, but I'm not buying into Michigan...just yet. It seems like that's what Vegas wants, especially with all the buzz this offseason.

The defense that held opponents to just 311.3 ypg in 2014 returns a slew of guys to mend that unit, and we should see Jabrill Peppers highlighted every Saturday in the secondary, along with a tremendous core up front and between the hashmarks.

Fans await the breakout of running back Derrick Green while hoarding a USC transfer in running back/wide receiver Ty Isaac, so the offense desperately seeks a dash of refuge, including quarterbacks Shane Morris and Jake Ruddock, the Iowa Hawkeyes product. Also waiting in the wing is John O'Korn, the transfer from Houston, who could be well-suited to run Michigan's offense in the coming years.

Snagging Harbaugh and cementing him on the Wolverines' sideline will create a nice pipeline for recruiting and Michigan should be sturdy once more on defense, but I'm still searching for ways they can muster up offensive production.

Even with the tandem of Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess, Michigan struggled heavily a year ago, in what appeared to be a sluggish and slow-moving offense with a lack of vertical passing.

I'm buying into the Michigan program, but I'm going to patiently twiddle my thumbs in 2015. If we're solely looking for value, the congratulations, you can root against us once more.

Pick: Michigan Wolverines Under 7 Wins (-105)

Michigan State 9 (Over -165/Under +125)

2014 Record: 11-2

Players to Watch: QB Connor Cook, DL Shilique Calhoun

Are we perhaps discussing the 'big brother' in regards to Michigan football?

Back in the mid-2000's, I'd lose all credibility as a writer and potentially have a warrant for my head amidst the city of Ann Arbor, but that's the way the cookie has crumbled.

I can begin my Sparty rant with echoing praise for the 2014 MSU squad, as it grasped on to a refined scheme of dazzle on offense while securing their consistency of hard-nosed defense. A perfect balance of playmaking while still encompassing that prototypical Spartan defensive blueprint, if you will.

Unfortunately, Connor Cook is left short-handed at wide receiver following the departure of his sidekick Tony Lippett and running back Jeremy Langford, but that doesn't necessarily hinder Sparty as they will counter a possible offensive decline with their anchor at defensive line in Shilique Calhoun, a two-time All Big 10 selection.

Nine wins needed to push the projected win total, which ultimately leads to the trio of contests in Oregon, Ohio State and Nebraska.

While the other genuine road challenge lies within the Wolverines, if past data follows the script once more, then advantage MSU. It won't be a stroll through the park, however.

Nine tallies in the win column appears to be just right, given the Spartans remain collective versus the mediocrity of the agenda, but I'll predict a win in Lincoln and this one to surpass the total, as I can vie for leadership under center and a filthy defense once more.

Pick: Michigan State Spartans Over 9 (-165)

Ohio State Buckeyes 11 (over -195/under +155)

2014 Record: National Champions

Players to Watch: RB Ezekiel Elliot, DL Joey Bosa

No sugar coating or gray areas in the Shoe--Ohio State brings back key players, a title, and perhaps the nation's most prominent head coach in Urban Meyer.

So while the roster strings together a boat load of athletes to hum choruses about, I'll refrain from doing so, primarily because we as fans know what we're getting from Ohio State in 2015.

Vegas has joined hands with the rest of the country and stacked up the Buckeyes as the nation's front runner, so while the perception of running the table is all but imminent, I'm going to sit this one out. The Buckeyes pocket a superb shot at returning to the Playoff once more, and 11 is too high (and tricky) to tamper with, given the minuscule amount of room to fiddle with.

Pick: Lay Off

Penn State 7 -230/+175

2014 Record: 7-6

Players to Watch: WR DaeSean Hamilton, DL Anthony Zettel

I think I've finally struck a comfort zone here as we delve into Happy Valley and the Nittany Lions.

You have the Connor Cooks and Cardale Jones's of the conference, along with Nate Sudfeld and Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong, but my dark horse to finally burst to the scene is highlighted under center with Christian Hackenberg, and while it'll be listed a priority to shove 2014 to the rear, he may finally seize his opportunity with his couplet of wide receivers in DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis, along with tailback Akeel Lynch.


A 12-15 touchdown to interception ratio a season ago, Hackenberg possesses all the tools, so much that mock drafts list him as a top quarterback for the future NFL Draft. It'll be the assistance that either escalates it, or leaves it wallowing it quicksand this upcoming year.

He'll have help up front with Kyle Carter and Angel Mangiro, while the opposite section of the ball provides the likes of 1st Team All Big 10 players (according to Phil Steele) in Anthony Zettel and Jordan Lucas.

A defense that secured a bid in the Top 10 of nearly every statistical category should prove successful once more, and I am high on the skill players for 2015.

Seven, although a tricky number, holds no padlocks for me on this one. I'll happily drink the juice on the Nittany Lions as I'll claim them my dark horse in the B1G this fall.

Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions Over 7 Wins (-230)

Rutgers 5 (Over -145/Under +105)

2014 Record: 8-5

Players to Watch: QB Hayden Rettig, WR Leonte Carroo

Another club, another quarterback battle, this occasion out east with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Whether it's Hayden Rettig or Chris Laviano taking snaps, the job becomes easier with standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo.

When asked about the possibility of defenses pinpointing the shifty wideout in 2015, beat writer Dan Duggan informed me that it's not surprising--nor does he think it would matter.

"Obviously, Carroo¹s production depends on how the quarterback competition plays out. Assuming someone competent emerges there, I expect Carroo to put up big numbers again. He¹ll definitely be at the top of opposingscouting reports, but I don¹t think that was any different last season and he still found ways to make plays. Rutgers returns the majority of its skill players so there should be enough options to keep defenses honest."

He also noted that Rutgers' 8-win season was largely due to their ability to overcome opposition amidst tight-knit games, but the Knights will need a handful of those to keep this one over the win total.

Returning just a small crowd of offensive returnees, like Maryland, I'm going to pass on the partial "newcomers," as I expect both to hit a wall in 2015, a topic I weighed heavily on with sophomore slumps, and how teams were regressing in the second season of a new conference.

The middle of the schedule is jam-packed with Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State and the Terps, all while traveling to Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana.

There lies a few "gimmes" in Norfolk State, Army and Kansas all while getting Washington State at home.

I don't like much aside from Carroo as far as the Scarlet and Black is concerned, and I'll snatch the value here at +105 as I believe the Big 10 competition lies on the incline for 2015.

Pick: Rutgers Scarlet Knight Under 5 Wins (+105)

Does anything stand out to you guys? Tweet us your picks @MaizenBrew and also, refrain from lashing out too much if I chose your team to fall under the win total in 2015.