By Dan Kilbridge | | 3 mins
Big Ten Football Against the Spread 2021: Best & Worst Teams ATS
The 2021 Big Ten championship race was one of the most exciting in recent memory, with Michigan upsetting Ohio State to get to the title game and beating Iowa in Indianapolis for its first conference championship since 2004.
It all makes sense on paper now, but Michigan may have been even better than some realized throughout the year based on its performance at sportsbooks. We looked at all Big Ten teams in terms of how they performed against the spread – not just record, but margin of covers as well – for a more complete look at Big Ten team performance throughout the season.
What Big Ten Teams Finished Best ATS This Season?
It was a good year for college football betting in the mitten. Michigan finished as the No. 1 Big Ten team against the spread with a record of 10-2 at betting sites, while Michigan State was right behind the Wolverines at 8-4 ATS.
Both teams obviously got it done straight-up as well, with Michigan finishing 12-1 en route to a CFP selection and Michigan State off to the Peach Bowl following a 10-2 season. But a few other conference teams proved to be strong bets despite their lackluster overall records.
Illinois was 5-7 on the year but impressed with a 7-4-1 record ATS, while last-place Nebraska went 7-5 ATS. The Cornhuskers were just 1-8 in Big Ten play but lost all eight games by single digits.
Ohio State finished tied for the best record in the Big Ten at 8-1 in conference and 10-2 overall. But the Buckeyes weren’t as effective at betting sites , where they were favored in every single game and finished just 6-5-1 ATS.
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How Many Points Did Big Ten Teams Cover By In Regular Season Wins ATS?
While Ohio State only covered six games this season, the Buckeyes left little doubt in those ones – covering the spread by a combined 119 points. That included a 39-point win over Rutgers when favored by just 15 and a 49-point win over Michigan State when favored by 19.5 on betting apps.
Michigan was almost equally dominant having covered by a combined total of 115, while Rutgers was a surprising third having gotten it done by 113.5 points in the six games the Knights covered – most notably beating Indiana 38-3 as a +6.5 underdog in mid-November.
Other teams such as Penn State walked a fine line, with the Nittany Lions covering seven games by a total of just 56.5 points. The Nittany Lions started the year 3-0 against the spread and covered those by a mere 12.5 points overall.
How Close Were Teams To Covering In Their Losses Against The Spread?
The Wolverines were oh-so-close to an unfathomable 12-0 season against the spread, failing to cover their two losses against the spread by 22 total points. There was a closer-than-expected seven point win over Rutgers and a four-point loss at Michigan State, but otherwise the Big Ten champs were perfect at the sportsbooks.
Purdue (44.5 points) Penn State (44.5 points) and Illinois (45 points) had a range of success, but all three teams played a lot of close games and could have flipped their ATS outlook with just a few plays here or there.
It’s also no surprise to see Rutgers (129.5 points), Northwestern (136 points ) and Indiana (158 points) in the bottom having failed to cover their games by more than 120 total points. Ultimately, oddsmakers just couldn’t set the college football odds high enough for bottom-tier Big Ten teams this season.
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