How Often Do Preseason Favorites Win the Big 10?

How Often Do Preseason Favorites Win the Big 10?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

One indicator of how a championship is likely to be decided are the preseason odds that sportsbooks assign to teams for futures wagers.

In the case of the Big Ten and Penn State, in particular, PA betting sites give the Nittany Lions a reasonably good chance to win the conference.

In fact, Penn State has +600 odds to win the Big Ten at FanDuel. 

That puts the Nittany Lions as the third favorite to win the Big Ten, according to FanDuel Sportsbook PA odds, behind perennial favorites Ohio State (+165) and Michigan (+180), and just ahead of Wisconsin (+800).

But how predictive are the preseason odds in forecasting the actual conference winner?

Big Ten Preseason Odds Since 2008 - your source for Pennsylvania sports betting apps - utilized to look at the preseason odds for the Big Ten champion dating back to 2008 when data was made available, and who ended up winning the conference. 

Year Preseason Favorite Odds Winner
2022 Ohio State -225 Michigan (+600)
2021 Ohio State -225 Michigan (+2500)
2020 Ohio State -225 Ohio State
2019 Michigan +160 Ohio State (+220)
2018 Ohio State +120 Ohio State
2017 Ohio State -140 Ohio State
2016 Ohio State +120 Penn State (+6000)
2015 Ohio State -500 Michigan State (+800)
2014 MSU/Wisconsin +240 Ohio State (+300)
2013 Ohio State +100 Michigan State (+700)
2012 Wisconsin +175 Wisconsin
2011 Nebraska +180 Wisconsin (+260)
2010 Ohio State -210 Wisconsin (+500)
2009 Ohio State +160 Ohio State
2008 Ohio State +120 Penn State (+500)


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Preseason Favorite Often Comes Up Short

For the last three seasons, Ohio State had the lowest preseason odds (-225 each season, 2020 through 2022). Yet, the Buckeyes actually won the Big Ten title in just one of those three seasons, in 2020.

In 2019, the script was flipped. Michigan was the preseason odds favorite at +160 but Ohio State (+220) won the Big Ten. 

Meanwhile, since 2008, the preseason favorite, according to the odds, went on to win the Big Ten just four times.  Perhaps, that stands as evidence that the conference is so fiercely competitive.

The last time Penn State won the Big Ten was in 2016 when it had preseason odds to win the conference of +6000.  That season, Ohio State was the preseason odds favorite at +160. Although Penn State started 2-2, it reeled off a nine-game winning streak, including a home win over Ohio State, but lost in the Rose Bowl to USC, in a 52-49 thriller.

Since 2008, Ohio State was the preseason odds favorite 11 times and won the Big Ten title in four of those seasons.

For 2023, the longest odds at FanDuel among the 14 Big Ten schools belong to Northwestern, at +4200.

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A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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