Vegas continues to bring us closer to the start of the 2018 season bit by bit with new season preview information. We've had national title odds and early spreads for several games -- now we've got the over/under win totals, courtesy of the sportsbook at the Southpoint Casino and Covers.com. You'll be absolutely shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- by who they're projecting to win the most games.
(SPOILER ALERT: You will not be shocked.)
BIG TEN WEST
Wisconsin is expected to lead the pack in the West is Best division here, owing to three things: they return a lot of key parts from a team that went 13-1 and won the Orange Bowl last year, they avoid Ohio State and Michigan State as crossover opponents (although they do have to play at Michigan and Penn State), and they get to play six games against the rest of the Big Ten West.
Speaking of the rest of the Big Ten West, there's projected to be a whole lot of mediocrity... er, parity... in the division next year as there are a whopping six teams with an over-under win total of six games. I guess Vegas is expecting the non-Badger portion of the West division to consume itself in the most meh ouroboros imaginable. Purdue, Minnesota, and Nebraska all finished around six wins last year (Purdue had seven, Minnesota had five, and Nebraska had four), so a win total of six doesn't seem too outlandish (Vegas also hasn't caught FROSTAMANIA just yet, either.) The eyebrow-raiser in that group is Northwestern, who won 10 games last year. Apparently the return of Clayton Thorson doesn't move the needle that much; it probably doesn't help that they draw Michigan and Michigan State as two of their crossover opponents and have a non-conference game with Notre Dame.
Our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes check in with a win total of 7.5. As we know, Iowa has several question marks, but they do have a returning starter at quarterback, some very exciting talent on the offensive and defensive lines, and some potential playmakers elsewhere. They also have a schedule that avoids Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State, which is nice. Considering that 85% of the respondents in our poll picked Iowa to win 8 or more games in 2018, I'm guessing y'all will be hammering the over here.
Meanwhile, Illinois has the smallest win total number in the entire conference -- just 3.5 wins. The Big Ten West may eat itself for the most part -- but apparently just about everyone's gonna get to snack on the Illini.
BIG TEN EAST
Ohio State occupies a tier to themselves atop the division with 10.5 wins (the highest total in the Big Ten and tied for the second-highest total in the country, behind 11.0 wins each for Alabama and Clemson). Mind you, these totals are regular season-only, which means that Ohio State can only afford to lose one game and still hit the over here (which also means that Bama and Clemson can only hit the over by going undefeated). Good news for the Buckeyes? They don't have to visit Iowa City this year.
Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State occupy the tier below the Buckeyes, with all of them pegged for a win total of at least nine games. Given that they all (obviously) play each other (as well as Ohio State), in order for them to hit the over they're going to need to run the table in their games against other opponents and likely at least split with one another. Will this be the year Jim Harbaugh finishes better than third in the East? Who knows! (He doesn't have to try and win a game in Iowa City -- something he has never done as a player or coach, as you may recall -- which can only help his efforts.)
With four teams given win totals of nine or higher, it's no surprise that the other three teams in the division have much smaller win totals. On the bright side, they all have win totals higher than Illinois -- even Rutgers!
A full listing of the win totals for all FBS teams (except Liberty) can be found here.
How do those totals look to you? Any that you're itching to hit the over on? Or any that you're confident will be under those totals? Hit up the comments.