Whenever the preseason over/unders come out, I find myself being somewhat surprised.

And a few seconds later, I remind myself that these are just for the regular season and that the postseason isn’t factored into the line that oddsmakers set for a given team.

Still, though. The oddsmakers don’t seem to have a ton of faith in the B1G this year.

Here’s a look at the over/under figures for every B1G team, according to Caesars Palace:

  • Michigan — 10.5
  • Ohio State — 10
  • Penn State — 8.5
  • Nebraska — 8.5
  • Wisconsin — 8
  • Michigan State — 8
  • Minnesota — 7.5
  • Iowa — 7.5
  • Purdue — 7
  • Indiana — 6
  • Northwestern — 6
  • Illinois — 4
  • Maryland — 3.5
  • Rutgers — 2.5

Some of those look fair to me. Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Indiana feel like good bets to be pushes. As for the rest, well, I’m not so sure.

Here are my favorite early bets based on those projections:

Northwestern — 6

The bet — Over

Three years of 9-plus wins, with most recently a West division crown and we really think Northwestern is going to fall off that badly? The oddsmakers apparently aren’t believing in Hunter Johnson as much as I am. Either that or they thought Clayton Thorson was better than he was. Even if Johnson doesn’t live up to his 5-star billing, I still like the odds of Paddy Fisher and that defense keeping the Wildcats in the West hunt.

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As daunting of a start as that is (games at Stanford, vs. Michigan State, at Wisconsin, at Nebraska, vs. Ohio State in first half), the Cats will win a couple that they weren’t supposed to and finish above the 6-win mark.

Minnesota — 7.5

The bet — Under

You really couldn’t ask for a more favorable pre-November schedule. The Gophers have:

  • 0 non-conference games vs. Power 5 teams
  • 1 game vs. Power 5 bowl team (6-win Purdue)
  • B1G road games at Purdue and at Rutgers
  • Crossover games vs. Rutgers and Maryland

So while one might look at that and think the over is the smart play, I’m going in the different direction and saying 8-4 doesn’t happen in Year 3 of the P.J. Fleck era. My fear is that the Gophers’ finish to 2018 is being held in too high regard and that we’re assuming just because Minnesota is ranked No. 10 in percentage of returning production that improvement is imminent.

I’m more of the belief that a 7-5 regular season is on the horizon. It still worries me that 3 teams who missed the postseason absolutely smacked Minnesota before it finished the season so well. And I think the division itself is better than it was a year ago. The Gophers are still a tough team to predict from week to week, but as a whole, they should be better in 2019. Just not 8-4 better.

Wisconsin — 8

The bet — Over

Wisconsin hasn’t had consecutive seasons of 7 wins or less in 15 years. Do we really think in the prime of Jonathan Taylor’s career that the Badgers are about to sink to that low? I don’t. In fact, I think with a change at quarterback and perhaps a healthier year, Wisconsin will win double-digit games in the regular season like they did the 2 years before last.

The Badgers, with Taylor back and hopefully correcting his ball security issues, rank No. 7 nationally in percentage of returning offensive production. That’ll bode well for a daunting schedule that includes crossover games vs. Michigan, vs. Michigan State and at Ohio State. Obviously the Badgers probably can’t afford to drop all 3 of those games, but I don’t believe they will.

This year, Paul Chryst gets back to being the best value coach in America.

Nebraska — 8.5

The bet — Under

I can be a Scott Frost/Adrian Martinez believer and still think 9 wins is too high for the Huskers. I think 8-4 is more realistic after the year that was. That is, a year when Nebraska struggled mightily on defense until very late in the season, and only 55% of that production is back. That’s from a team that allowed nearly 200 rushing yards per game. You have to be better in that area to win those late-season games in the B1G. You just have to.

I tend to think that we’re underestimating just how difficult it’ll be to jump from 4 to 9 wins in what figures to be a deeper-than-usual B1G West. There are too many potential landlines to make 9-3 a favorable possibility this year.

Penn State — 8.5

The bet — Under

I sold my Penn State stock last year for a variety of reasons. The biggest one was James Franklin trouble-shooting without both Joe Moorhead and Josh Gattis. Those former Penn State assistants were missed badly last year. I think the same will be true in the first year of the post-Trace McSorley era. It’s tough for me to envision this group not taking a step back with all the talent it lost on offense alone (No. 116 in FBS in percentage of returning offensive production).

Ever since Penn State beat the brakes off Michigan in that 2017 night game that College GameDay was at, it’s been a rough go against the B1G East powers. The Lions lost 5 straight in games against either Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State. Two of those games are on the road this year, and the Lions will have to make a trip to Iowa City. I don’t think going to Minnesota in November will be particularly fun, either.

Maybe if Penn State had a different offseason without departure after departure, this would be a different discussion. But I worry about the potential depth issues and the recent struggles against quality foes.

Rutgers — 2.5

The bet — Over