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2023 Big 10 West Preview & Best Bets

Bill Christy
Written by Bill Christy
June 28, 2023
2023 Big 10 West Preview & Best Bets

The Wisconsin Badgers are the favorite to represent the Big 10 West in this year's title game. The Badgers' offense will look to take significant strides with new QB Tanner Mordecai. Running back Braelon Allen shouldn't have any trouble running behind an experienced O-line.

The Iowa Hawkeyes should once again be strong on the defensive side of the ball. Their offense should be much improved with Cade McNamara transferring in from Michigan. Let's check out the odds to win the Big 10 championship before getting into some season win total bets.

Before jumping into some of our best season win total bets, let's take a look at the odds to win the Big 10 Championship in 2023. These can be found at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Current Odds to Win 2023 Big 10 Championship

Latest Odds

Team Odds
Ohio State +165
Michigan +185
Penn State +600
Wisconsin +800
Iowa +1200
Minnesota +3000
Maryland +4000
Nebraska +6000
Illinois +6000
Michigan State +12000
Purdue +12000
Rutgers +20000
Northwestern +30000
Indiana +30000

Wisconsin Badgers OVER 8.5 Wins

It was a disappointing 2022-2023 season for the Badgers. It seemed like every time they took a step forward, they would take two steps back. Their 4-5 record in Big 10 play marked the 1st time since 2008 that the Badgers went under .500 in conference play.

The firing of Paul Chryst came just 5 games into the season and Jim Leonhard led them to a 4-3 mark in the interim but was not awarded the head job. Instead, the brass opted to make a splash and hired Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati. Fickell will be tasked with getting an offense that struggled inside the red zone (80%) to match their defense that was 24th in points allowed in the country.

The defense returns 8 starters and should be strong once again, but all eyes will be on the offense. A pass-happy attack is likely with the addition of Phil Longo as coordinator and transfer Tanner Mordecai.

This will be a test for Wisconsin as their long-storied history has been with strong rushing attacks that help bleed the clock for their top tier defenses. They avoid playing both Michigan and PSU this season and with Iowa and OSU being home games, the Badgers have a chance to be special this season.

Iowa Hawkeyes OVER 7.5 Wins

After a tumultuous 7 games (3-4) to start the season, Iowa righted the ship and rattled off 5 wins in their final 6 games of the season. Oddly enough, the lone loss came at home as a double-digit favorite to Nebraska to end the regular season. However, the Hawkeyes bounced back and shutout Kentucky 21-0 in the Music City Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

As has been their MO over the recent years, Iowa’s defense led the way for them. They finished ranked 3rd in the country, allowing just 14.2 ppg and 1st in opponents yards/play at just 4.0.

Former Michigan Wolverine QB Cade McNamara arrives this season for the Hawkeyes and will look to turn around an offense that averaged just 17.7ppg last season. He will have Kaleb Johnson in the backfield who should provide a solid rushing attack. The defensive front will be strong once again and Cooper DeJean will lead a secondary that will try to make Hawkeye fans forget the loss of Riley Moss.

Illinois Fighting Illini OVER 6.5 Wins

The Illini were the surprise team in the Big 10 last year. Slated for just a handful of wins, Illinois surpassed that and finished with an 8-5 overall record to go with their 5-4 Big 10 mark. As promising as that seemed, there was hesitation in Champaign to anoint the Illini as being “back.”

Losses to Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, and Mississippi St in their bowl game down the stretch added to the hesitation. However, all their conference losses were by just 1 score.

Like Iowa, Illinois relied heavily on their defense that allowed only 13.8ppg to their opponents, 2nd in the country. That combined with a turnover margin that ranked 3rd in the country, gave their offense many a short field to work with in 2022-2023.

The Illini have some serious questions heading into this season. They lost their defensive coordinator to Purdue and some starters to the NFL draft. That said, Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph will be back to provide leadership on the defensive front that should cause many opponents issues protecting their quarterbacks.

The offense will go as Ole Miss transfer, Luke Altmyer goes. If he can get the ball moving downfield to give their defense some rest, another 7+ win season could be on the horizon.

Minnesota Golden Gophers UNDER 6.5 Wins

Minnesota followed the formula of both Iowa and Illinois last season. Their focus on defense is what helped lead them to a 9-5 overall record that may have been a bit misleading as to who they truly were. The Gophers did their job against subpar opponents but when matched against the top tier of the conference (Purdue, PSU and Iowa), they failed to get over the hump.

They matched Iowa’s mark of 14.2ppg allowed to their opponents and it was the return of workhorse back Mohamed Ibrahim that ignited an offense that averaged 200 yards per game on the ground. However, Mo is now on the Detroit Lions and Minnesota will need to find someone to fill the gaping hole he left.

Michigan and OSU? Unfortunately for PJ Fleck and his Gophers, that is who they are tasked with in the crossover play this season. If that is not daunting enough, they also lost do it all RB Mo Ibrahim to the NFL and will need to fill 3 starters on their offensive line. The other side of the ball, there is more of the same as only 5 starters are returning for their defense.

Purdue Boilermakers OVER 5.5 Wins

Purdue finished 4th in the Big 10 with a 6-4 conference record and an 8-6 mark overall. Much like Minnesota, the Boilermakers just could not topple the elites in conference. And if that was not enough, they were selected to face LSU in the Citrus Bowl. There, the Tigers handed Purdue its worst loss of the season, 63-7.

Proving just how far the Boilermakers are from being a national powerhouse. Statistically speaking, Purdue was a middle of the road offense and defense. The one bright spot was their passing attack which finished 21st in the country, averaging 277.3 yards per game.

Former defensive coordinator, Ryan Walters comes over from Illinois for his debut as the new head man for the Boilermakers. To think he will be able to turn around the defense in one season is a bit optimistic and with losses of Aidan O’Connell and Charlie Jones on offense, Walters will have his hands full there as well.

Nebraska Cornhuskers UNDER 6 Wins

It appeared the end of the season could not come quick enough for Cornhusker fans. After a 3-3 start to the season, Nebraska dropped 5 straight games before heading on the road to Iowa to finish their season. Then, shockingly, the Cornhuskers pulled off their biggest upset in quite some time as they defeated Iowa 24-17 as 10-point underdogs.

They hope to build off that final win as they head into this season. Time of possession will be something to look at as they finished 122nd in the nation in that category.

Former Carolina Panthers’ head coach, Matt Rhule will look to have a better debut season than he had at Temple and Baylor. He can certainly turn the program around but year one will likely be baby steps.

He grabbed former GT quarterback, Jeff Sims in the transfer portal along with receivers Arik Gilbert from UGA and Bill Kemp from UVA. Anthony Grant will carry the rock in the backfield but the O-line will need to step up.

Northwestern Wildcats UNDER 3.5 Wins

Pat Fitzgerald has his behind firmly on the hot seat after the Wildcats finished the 2022 campaign with just 1 win. That win came over the pond to start the season against Nebraska. From there, 11 straight losses followed.

With an offense that averaged an abysmal 12.8ppg and a defense that ranked 111th in opponents red zone scoring percentage, the Wildcats were a mess all over the place. Fitzgerald did give some good news to the fan base this offseason when he secured former Cincinnati QB, Ben Bryant, to transfer.

Unfortunately, he will be without Evan Hull at running back who left for the NFL. There will be question marks all over the field for the Wildcats and Fitzgerald will likely be on a short leash this season.

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