Big Ten Championship Betting - Will Ohio State Earn a CFP Berth?

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D.S. Williamson

December 1st, 2018

With the MIchigan Wolverines soundly in their rearview mirror, Ohio State hopes to get back into the Selection Committee’s good graces with a victory over Northwestern as double-digit favorites in the 2018 Big Ten Championship betting matchup. The Northwestern Wildcats won the Big Ten West (some people call it the Big Ten “B” Division) this season. Will Northwestern prove that they're the best in the conference, or will Ohio State send a glowing memo to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee for their consideration?

2018 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING #19 Northwestern Wildcats vs #10 Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday, December 1st – Lucas Oil Stadium – 8:00pm ET Odds: Ohio State -14 (60.5)

Northwestern Flies In Under the Radar

Not many college football analysts or fans have paid attention to the Northwestern Wildcats. In fact, many might be surprised that Northwestern won the Big Ten West Division. There's been a lot going on in college football this season, so you're forgiven for letting the Wildcats slip by, but it's worth noting that they won their division with gusto.

Northwestern went 8-1 in the Big Ten after a bumpy start, which included a close 17-20 loss to Michigan. Their closest competitors for the division title were Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue, all of whom went 5-4 in the conference. The Wildcats also showed extremely well against Notre Dame, the third best team in the country, by losing 21-31. They're a terrific, undersold football program.

The Wildcats are more than talented enough to give the Buckeyes a serious run for their (and your) money when it comes to Big Ten Championship betting. One thing in Northwestern’s favor is stepping onto Lucas Oil Stadium relatively unknown. Unlike Michigan, who got fancy against Ohio State before tossing in the towel after the Buckeyes started to run away with the score, Northwestern is a straight shooting team.

Ohio State could have trouble versus a squad that lacks creativity, but makes up for it by hardly ever missing assignments on either side of the ball. Discipline is a key factor in high profile games like these, and Northwestern boasts that commodity in spades.

Ohio State Can Make College Football Playoff Case

The Buckeyes obliterated rival Michigan and now must make their case to the Selection Committee. The loss to Purdue is a big one because the Boilermakers aren’t a great football team. Simply put, Ohio State has to not only win the conference championship, they have to do so emphatically. If the Buckeyes can overwhelm Northwestern the way they dominated Michigan, they’ll make it hard for the Selection Committee to keep them out of the CFP.

The added pressure of trying to impress the CFP committee is a wrinkle that offers a lot of intrigue. If Ohio State looks past Northwestern by not playing as hard on Saturday as they did against the rival Wolverines, the Wildcats will claw away their College Football Playoff chances. The Buckeyes have to do the job that's laid out in front of them, and Dwayne Haskins has to keep doing what he does by throwing touchdowns galore.

2018 Big Ten Championship Betting Analysis

After opening at -13, the spread has climbed a full point. Even at -14, most are backing the Buckeyes. Ohio State was so impressive last week that many believe the Buckeyes have turned the corner and are now one of the top teams in the nation.

That might not be the case. Michigan flat out quit in that game, while the trends point to the Buckeyes having problems this Saturday. Ohio State is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 conference games, 1-6 ATS in their last 7 following an SU win of more than 20 points, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 on field turf. They've been a terrible play in the sportsbook all year long.

Northwestern is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 following an ATS loss and 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 in the conference. The Wildcats could catch Ohio State napping after such an awesome Buckeyes’ performance. Not only that, but Northwestern has held 5 of their last 6 opponents to 17 points or less.

Only Notre Dame scored more than 17 against the Wildcats. Northwestern’s a solid team. They’ve got a puncher’s chance to win. More importantly, they' got an awesome chance to cover.

Big Ten Championship Betting Free Pick: Northwestern +14