The Big Ten season is still a few months away, but preseason win totals for the 2024 season have been up for a while. However, a recent update of ESPN’s 2024 Football Power Index helps shed light on a few numbers to take this fall.

Before we get to the numbers I’m looking at in this piece, let’s get the teams we will not be discussing out of the way. Those teams are mainly the ones expected to compete for a conference title this fall.

That group mainly consists of Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, teams with preseason win totals listed at 9.5 or higher. That quartet also makes up the group with the best Big Ten Championship odds for the season with everyone else in the B1G well behind.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a team on this list (or anyone else for that matter) cannot come out of the dark and contend for a trip to Indianapolis. But without divisions in play, it’s likely a pair of those top 4 entering the fall will suit up for the B1G title in Lucas Oil Stadium.

It’s also true that strength of schedule will likely play a key role in the trajectory of the season, and that’s why I will focus on the 5 teams mentioned in this piece. As always, you can find the best and latest odds for your team’s preseason win total with Tradition’s Ohio sports betting apps.

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So, without further ado, here are 5 numbers I’m taking after checking out the FPI’s strength of schedule ratings:

Purdue — Under 4.5 wins (-150 via DraftKings)

Ryan Walters is still trying to develop the kind of roster he needs to make Purdue a contender. Unfortunately Nic Scourton, one of the program’s best defenders last season, left via the transfer portal from a defense that was already giving up 30 points a game last season.

The big problem for the Boilermakers, aside from the questions about the roster, is an elite schedule this fall. A home game against Notre Dame and a trip to Corvallis to face Oregon State means the nonconference slate is no cakewalk, and the 9-game B1G schedule does Purdue no favors either.

The Boilermakers must travel to Madison to face Wisconsin along with another elite road trip to face Ohio State. Penn State and Oregon also visit, giving Purdue the toughest B1G schedule per the FPI and the 11th toughest in the country.

The unfortunate reality is I could see Purdue being better as a team this fall, but that still doesn’t mean the win total improves with the kind of schedule on deck.

UCLA — Under 5.5 wins (-110 via DraftKings)

After rebuilding UCLA into a program that won 25 games across the past 3 seasons, Chip Kelly is now at Ohio State to lead the Buckeye offense. DeShaun Foster might work out just fine with the Bruins, but he inherits a difficult position to begin his tenure.

And that’s before diving into the schedule.

UCLA must travel to face LSU in Baton Rouge in September, and the Bruins inherit one brutal travel schedule in the B1G. Along with a West Coast road trip to face Washington in Seattle, UCLA will head east for conference road games against Penn State, Rutgers and Nebraska.

None of those games will be easy under normal circumstances, and the added component of traveling across country could lead to some unwelcome performances.

Altogether, UCLA is given the 2nd-toughest schedule in the B1G by the FPI and the 12th toughest schedule in the country.

Maryland – Under 6.5 wins (+115 via DraftKings)

Maryland is chasing an unprecedented 4th straight bowl game and 4th straight bowl win in 2024, but it’s a season of change for the Terrapins. Taulia Tagovailoa is off to the NFL, and it’s unclear how Mike Locksley’s offense will respond.

The good news is there is a manageable nonconference schedule for Maryland with games against UConn and Villanova and a road trip to Virginia. Unfortunately, everything from mid-October onward in the B1G is likely to be a battle.

From Oct. 11 through the end of the season, the Terrapins will play vs. Northwestern, vs. USC, at Minnesota, at Oregon, vs. Rutgers, vs. Iowa and at Penn State. That’s a brutal stretch, and it’s hard to see the team finishing above .500 in that stretch.

Maryland’s schedule is ranked 25th in the country per the FPI, and I think that’s just enough to keep the Terrapins under 6.5, even if they do claw to bowl eligibility. Fans can track the latest odds via Tradition’s Maryland sports betting apps.

Rutgers – Over 5.5 wins (-165 via ESPN Bet)

Greg Schiano’s rebuild of the Rutgers program took a step forward in 2023, delivering a bowl victory and winning record in his 4th season back with the Scarlet Knights. Now, the goal is to prove getting to a bowl game can be the floor for Schiano’s squad.

The Scarlet Knights return some key pieces, most notably the B1G’s leading rusher a season ago in Kyle Monangai. They also made the difficult decision to hand the keys of the offense to transfer quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, leading 2-year starter Gavin Wimsatt to leave the program.

Rutgers is a definite candidate to surprise some folks this season, and the Knights also get the easiest schedule in the B1G (78th toughest in the country) per the FPI.

If the Scarlet Knights can make it through a nonconference schedule that includes Howard, Akron and a trip to Virginia Tech, they will need just 3 wins in conference play to hit the over 5.5 number.

Iowa – Over 7.5 wins (-122 via FanDuel)

In typical Iowa fashion, the Hawkeyes return a deep and veteran defense to lead the way in 2024. Questions remain about Cade McNamara and the offense under a new coordinator, but things can only improve on that side of the ball. Right?

Either way, Kirk Ferentz has shown what he can accomplish with an elite defense, even if the offense is a disaster throughout the season.

In terms of the schedule, Iowa gets all 3 nonconference games at home, including the rivalry matchup vs. Iowa State. The other nonconference games include Illinois State and Troy, meaning the Hawkeyes should be 3-0 by the time a road trip to Minnesota comes around on Sept. 21.

Outside of a road trip to Ohio State, there is no conference game on Iowa’s schedule that stands out as likely to be lopsided. The Hawkeyes are given the 2nd-easiest schedule in the B1G (44th-toughest in the country), so that means I will definitely ride with Iowa getting to 8-9 wins once again.

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