College Football Odds & Pick For Wisconsin vs. Michigan: Betting Value Sits With Badgers
Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz.
- Wisconsin returns from a two-week absence to face Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday night.
- The Wolverines are coming off a loss to Indiana and hope their defense steps up against a Badger offense that looked powerful earlier this season.
- Matt Wispe is backing the Badgers and explains why below.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan Odds
|Wisconsin Odds||-7 [BET NOW]|
|Michigan Odds||+7 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-265/+210 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Wisconsin made big news in its first game, thanks to a sparkling debut from quarterback Graham Mertz. However, the Badgers made bigger headlines when Mertz came up with a positive COVID-19 test, which led to an outbreak within the team and the cancellation of two games.
Michigan enters this contest off back-to-back losses in games where it was favored at kickoff. The Michigan State loss was shocking because of the three-score spread, but Indiana’s commanding win piled onto mounting frustrations amid a season that already seems lost.
One of these teams is falling short of all expectations, while the other has only presented a one-game sample size. However, the small sample is gifting bettors an opportunity to back the Badgers at a value.
Figuring out the Badgers is somewhat challenging because they’ve only played one game, with that contest coming against a team appearing to be among the worst in the conference. That said, expectations were high in Madison thanks to a 2019 performance that saw Wisconsin finish with a top-20 Offensive Success Rate and inside the top 25 in scoring.
Mertz will be eligible to play following his 21-day recovery timeline, with him likely to start if he’s cleared by a cardiologist.
Mertz’s debut numbers, which were highlighted by just one incompletion and an average of 11.8 yards per attempt, are likely unsustainable, but this Michigan defense has allowed quite a few explosive passing plays, so there will be chances for him to create quick scoring opportunities.
Should Mertz miss this game, the team will be down to either its third- or fourth-string quarterback. This lack of depth would most likely cause Wisconsin to lean on its running game.
In 2019, the Badgers ran the ball on 63.3% of their offensive plays and still managed to score 34.1 points per game. It would undoubtedly limit its scoring upside, but Wisconsin is more accustomed to playing a run-heavy attack, so the switch wouldn’t ruin its chances of winning.
In its one game, Wisconsin’s defense allowed a 28.3% Success Rate, and the only points it conceded against Illinois came on a fumble returned for a score.
Normally, I’d be hesitant to fully buy in on just 60 minutes of football, but this performance came after a 2019 campaign that saw the Badgers rank inside the top 10 in Defensive Success Rate and inside the top five for Havoc created.
After a win over Minnesota, Michigan fans thought they were in for a special season. However, everything following that game changed that opinion in a hurry. Minnesota is 1-2 and has had its defense exposed, while Michigan has lost consecutive games.
Joe Milton’s buzz as the “next Cam Newton” appears to already be gone. After completing 68.2% of his passes in Week 1, he’s dropped down to 60.7% for the year after two subpar performances. As a whole, however, the passing game hasn’t been a liability, as it boasts a 44.2% Success Rate.
Running the ball has been a bit of a struggle. The Wolverines have a Rushing Success Rate of 42.1%, and there have been issues along the offensive line. The line is generating just 2.56 Line Yards per attempt, and Michigan backs have been stuffed on 25% of attempts.
And coming off a week in which it managed just 13 rushing yards, this Wisconsin defense is unlikely to allow a major bounce-back.
Defensively, Michigan ranks 69th in scoring and its 38.1% Success Rate Allowed ranks 29th nationally. What the Michigan defense has struggled with is creating Havoc and allowing opponents to finish drives. The Wolverines have only created Havoc on 11.5% of plays, with its opponents averaging 4.04 points per opportunity.
So, while Michigan has been relatively successful at slowing its opponents, it has struggled to get them off of the field consistently.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Betting on this Wisconsin team is slightly risky, because it’s almost like backing a team making its season debut. Yet, with Michigan on the downslide and Wisconsin likely to return a potential star, there’s still value on the Badgers at this number.
I’m taking the Badgers -4.5 and would play them as high as -7.
Pick: Wisconsin -4.5 (up to -7)