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Rutgers Football Opens As Big Ten's Biggest Underdog

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

So you are telling me there is a chance? According to the oddsmakers, not much of one though. This may come as a shock to you, but Las Vegas does not have much confidence in Rutgers football in the vaunted Big Ten East division for the 2016 season. Odds were released yesterday by Bovada and Rutgers was given the greatest odds of any East team to win the division title at 50-1. In addition, Rutgers has the same odds as Purdue to win the Big Ten Championship, making them the longest shots at 100-1 odds.

After a 4-8 record in 2015, the coaching change from Kyle Flood to Chris Ash has done little to change the perception of the oddsmakers this coming season. Here is how they set the race for the Big Ten East title:

Big Ten East Division

Ohio State: 1/1

Michigan: 5/4

Michigan State: 6/1

Penn State: 10/1

Indiana: 33/1

Maryland: 33/1

Rutgers: 50/1

No real surprises here, but a little disappointing that Rutgers has significantly worse odds than Maryland and Indiana. However, this is another reminder of how little the program is thought of after the disaster of last season. Rutgers has a much more difficult non-conference slate than the Terps and the Hoosiers. Maryland doesn't play any power five teams outside of conference play and Indiana plays Wake Forest, who hasn't had a winning record since 2008. Rutgers opens at Washington, who is expected to be ranked at the start of the season. Of course, this has nothing to do with the Big Ten, so that isn't a factor with the odds.

Ohio State and Michigan are heavy favorites for the division title and they could be on their way to an epic rivalry game Thanksgiving weekend. Michigan State and Penn State are sandwiched between the favorites and the big underdogs. After back to back 7-6 seasons, James Franklin and Penn State hope for improvement after two very good recruiting classes. They do need to replace quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Michigan State replaces quarterback Connor Cook. Still, it's no surprise their odds are far better than the bottom of the division.

Big Ten West Division

Iowa: 1/1

Nebraska: 2/1

Wisconsin: 4/1

Northwestern: 9/1

Minnesota: 14/1

Illinois: 25/1

Purdue: 33/1

No surprise to see defending West division champion Iowa with even odds to repeat. The oddsmakers expect year two for Mike Riley to be much better than his debut at Nebraska.  Wisconsin has Corey Clement returning in the backfield and is lingering right behind the favorites. Illinois and Purdue are picked for the bottom of the pack, which is not a surprise. It makes sense the odds are not as bad for the basement teams as they are for the East division, where Ohio State and Michigan are legitimate national title contenders.

Big Ten Championship

Michigan: 7/4

Ohio State: 7/4

Michigan State: 7/1

Iowa: 9/1

Nebraska: 9/1

Wisconsin: 14/1

Penn State: 18/1

Northwestern: 33/1

Minnesota: 40/1

Illinois: 50/1

Indiana: 50/1

Maryland: 50/1

Purdue: 100/1

Rutgers: 100/1

The big three of the East have the best odds to win the Big Ten Championship this fall. They are followed by the top three schools in the West. Penn State is slightly behind Wisconsin and then there is a big drop down to Northwestern, who leads the bottom half of the conference. And then a reality bites moment, as Rutgers is paired with Purdue as the longest shots to win the Big Ten. Purdue hasn't had a winning season since 2011 and Rutgers 8-5 debut season in 2014 is all but forgotten.

Chris Ash has proven early on in his tenure to be adept in finding ways to motivate the team, and the preseason odds are just fuel to the fire. Outside of the fanbase, it's obvious now that there are little expectations for the 2016 Rutgers football team. But that's okay, because it will make any progress this season all the more enjoyable. Despite a difficult schedule that includes 9 bowl teams from a season ago, Rutgers should be interesting to watch in Ash's debut season. Only 8 Saturdays until the season opener at Washington on September 3rd.