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August 2, 2023

The best news when the calendar flips to August? That there will be live college football games on our screens later this month. After going through win totals and Heisman picks for each Power 5 conference, it’s now time to give out picks for conference futures.

Senior editor Max Meyer shares his best bet for conference winner, as well as a sleeper ???? (+1000 odds or longer) that can make some noise. So Max is going with either Michigan or Ohio State for the Big Ten champ, right? Not quite.

PICK TO WIN: Penn State (+600)

Penn State is a lot closer to Ohio State (+160) and Michigan (+165) than these conference odds suggest. Yes, the other two are brand names but Penn State’s roster is absolutely loaded. The Nittany Lions not only have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, but also in the entire country.

Sophomore tailbacks Nicholas Singleton (1,061) and Kaytron Allen (867) were the first true freshmen teammates in Big Ten history to each rack up at least 700 rushing yards ????. If 5-star Drew Allar lives up to the hype at quarterback, this price is a steal. Even if he doesn’t, Penn State has enough talent to still compete with Michigan and Ohio State.

SLEEPER: Iowa (+1200)

Iowa deserved all the punchlines last season, but the offense will be better. Going from the Spencer Petras nightmare ???? to former Michigan signal-caller Cade McNamara is a potentially massive upgrade. The Hawkeyes landed Ohio State transfer and former 4-star Kaleb Brown at wideout, the highest-rated wide receiver in Iowa history. The OL was a disaster last season, but four of those starters were underclassmen and Iowa added more help in the portal.

Iowa does lose key players on a defense that finished No. 1 in yards per play allowed last season. But the Hawkeyes have been a consistently great unit under defensive coordinator Phil Parker, so I don’t see too big of a drop-off here. The Hawkeyes also don’t have Michigan or Ohio State on its regular season schedule ????‍????, while the other top Big Ten West contender (Wisconsin) could have growing pains thanks to major coaching changes.