BetOnline has released their opening odds for conference championships, and the Nittany Lions are the third favorite in the Big Ten at 9-to-1, trailing division rivals Ohio State (11-to-10) and Michigan (9-to-4). The Buckeyes and Wolverines at the top of the heap is of little surprise, as both have been popular favorites for much of the offseason.
Jim Harbaugh looks to improve upon a career-best second place finish in the Big Ten's East Division. To do so, he'll need to get over the Ohio State hurdle to close the season for the first time in eight years, and deal with games looming in Madison and Happy Valley, along with Notre Dame and Army (seriously) at home.
It's a different set of variables for Ohio State with their first season under Ryan Day and new QB Justin Fields. The Penn State commit turned Georgia signee turned Buckeye starter played sparingly in Athens as a freshman and decided to transfer. There is no depth behind him following the transfer of Tathan Martell to Miami, so it will be interesting to see how willing Day is to expose his signal-caller in the run game. The Buckeyes play no one of note in the non-conference portion of the schedule and get the Badgers, Lions, and Spartans at home. Road trips to Lincoln and Ann Arbor could be other testers.
Penn State with third-best odds in the conference is mildly surprising considering a difficult schedule, a new quarterback, and seemingly unending love for a 4-8 Nebraska squad. However, James Franklin may have the best defense in the conference to go along with a fully talent-stocked, if unproven, offense.
The Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 31 against Idaho at 3:30 p.m. on BTN.