2018 Big Ten Championship Game Odds, Analysis, College Football Betting Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24:  Quarterback Tate Martell #18 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Michigan 62-39.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State owns six victories in a row in the series with Northwestern, going 5-1 against the spread along the way. But the last couple of meetings were close, decided by a total of 14 points. Can the Wildcats keep things interesting when they battle the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis?

College football point spread: The Buckeyes opened as 13-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 39.2-22.2 Buckeyes (College football picks on every game)

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Why the Northwestern Wildcats can cover the spread

Northwestern capped off its regular season with a three-game winning streak, including a 24-16 victory over Illinois last week. The Wildcats drove their opening possession of the game 92 yards to a touchdown, led 21-6 at the half, then scored the first three points of the second half and held on from there for the win.

Unfortunately for its financial backers Northwestern pulled many starters, gave up the last 10 points of the game and missed the cover as a 16-point favorite.

On the day the Wildcats out-rushed the Illini 265-154, converted eight of 13 third-down situations, committed just one penalty and didn't the turn the ball over. Northwestern is now 5-2-2 ATS over its last nine games, and on the season the Wildcats are 5-2 SU and 6-0-1 ATS as underdogs.

Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

Ohio State capped off its regular season with four straight victories, including a shocking 62-39 romp over rival Michigan last week. The Buckeyes drove their opening possession of the game 57 yards to a touchdown, led 21-6 in the second quarter, allowed the Wolverines to pull within 21-19 but scored the first 17 points of the second half and held on from there for the outright win as four-point dogs.

On the day Ohio State piled up 567 yards of total offense, 249 on the ground and 318 through the air. And the special teams contributed a touchdown on a blocked punt return at a key point in the third quarter.

So the Buckeyes have now out-gained 11 of their 12 opponents this season, including their last seven in a row. At 11-1 overall Ohio State still harbors hopes of making the College Football Playoff, and style points may still come into play.

Smart betting pick

The Buckeyes are probably going to win this game, but they're only 2-6 ATS over their last eight games mainly because they've been favored by too much too often. Northwestern, meanwhile, is 2-0 ATS this season against its two toughest opponents, losing by scores of 20-17 and 31-21 to Michigan and Notre Dame but covering as dogs of 15 and 10 points. Smart money here likes the Wildcats and the points.

College football betting trends

The total has gone over in four of Northwestern's last five games vs Ohio State.

Ohio State is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games vs its conference.

Northwestern is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 games vs its conference.

All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.