College Football Odds, Prediction, Picks for Army vs. Wisconsin: How to Bet This Low-Scoring Showdown (Oct. 16)
John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Graham Mertz.
- The Army Black Knights and Wisconsin Badgers will play in Saturday night college football action.
- With a total below 40 and dropping, few points are expected in Madison.
- Collin Wilson breaks Army vs. Wisconsin down below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis.
Army vs. Wisconsin Odds
|Moneyline||+435 / -600|
|Over/Under||37.5 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
There may be no better display of smash-mouth football than the scene at Camp Randall in Week 7.
Army brings the triple-option ground attack against a Wisconsin defense that excels in stopping the run. Conversely, Wisconsin runs on 63% of snaps, good enough for a top-25 rush rate. Containing the edge and filling the gaps on defense will be key in the final scoreboard tally.
Wisconsin comes off its first conference victory over Illinois and faces Big Ten opponent Purdue after this game, giving head coach Paul Chryst one week to prepare for a nonconference opponent running a bruising offense.
The Badgers must win over half of their remaining games to make a bowl.
Army is fresh off a bye week after a loss to Ball State, a defeat that causes head coach Jeff Monken to lose sleep at night.
The Black Knights look to notch one of the program’s biggest upsets ever after recording just one victory over a Power Five opponent in the past eight years.
Army vs. Wisconsin Betting Preview
Triple Option or Bust
Army is famous for running the triple-option offense, a scheme the requires opponents to be disciplined in filling the gap between the center and guard, containing the quarterback and attacking the pitch.
Army has run 324 rushing plays against 34 passes this season, giving opposing defenses reason to stack a minimum of eight defenders in the box.
The option has been heavily successful thus far, with a Rushing Success and Finishing Drives rank inside the top 10.
Army puts the first points on the board against WKU 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 11, 2021
The Black Knights have been stuffed on rushing attempts 10% less than the national average. Those numbers come against a schedule of Georgia State, Western Kentucky, UConn, Miami (Ohio) and Ball State.
Of those defenses, only the RedHawks rank within the top 80 in Defensive Stuff Rate. Miami (Ohio) kept Army in check, allowing a Rushing Success Rate and Stuff Rate similar to the national average benchmarks.
Stuffing the Run
Army has been fantastic at stopping the run against a soft schedule of opponents. The Black Knights currently rank top-25 in Rushing Success Rate, Line Yards and Havoc.
Although the Havoc number is high, the contribution from the secondary in pass breakups supports that number. Army ranks 115th in tackles for loss per game. A trio of linebackers in Arik Smith, Spencer Jones and Malkelm Morrison leads the team in tackles.
One area of struggle for the defense is stopping the big play. Although Army has posted national average rates in rush and pass defense, the Black Knights are 122nd in defensive rush expected points and 128th in defending standard downs explosiveness.
Curious Case of Graham Mertz
The emergence of Graham Mertz at quarterback led to the transfer of Jack Coan to Notre Dame. Fast forward through a dozen games, and Wisconsin is searching for a passing attack.
Through five games this season, the Badgers average a yard less per play and rank below the national average in passing plays.
Mertz has just two touchdowns versus seven interceptions after a 2020 season that saw twice as many big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays.
GRAHAM MERTZ (!!!)
WISCONSIN HAS LIFE #CFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021
While depth of target has not been an issue, pressure in the pocket has directly affected the passing numbers. Mertz has an adjusted completion rate dip from 71% to 48% in a crowded pocket, as opponent pass rush will serve as an indicator of offensive success for Wisconsin.
Chaotic Badgers Defense
Wisconsin’s defense has kept it in almost every game through a troubled 2021 season.
The Badgers boast the top defense in the nation in Success Rate with complementary top-10 ranks in Line Yards and opponent big-play rate.
The biggest attribute is a rank of fourth in Defensive Havoc, as Jack Sunborn has six tackles for loss along with Faion Hicks breaking up six passes on the season.
Wisconsin has dominated standard downs, allowing opponents to achieve a Success Rate 10% below the national average. In five games, the Badgers rush defense has allowed 2.5 yards per attempt and stuffed 57 runs.
To hammer home how great Wisconsin has been on first-and-10, this is the top defense in the nation defensively in standard downs Success Rate.
Army vs. Wisconsin Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Army and Wisconsin match up statistically:
Army Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Wisconsin Offense vs. Army Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||9||21|
|Plays per Minute||130||105|
|Rush Rate||90.8% (1)||62.6% (24)|
Army vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
The health of quarterback Christian Anderson is paramount to the success of Army’s triple-option attack. Service academies are generally plug-and-play at the quarterback position, but Anderson provides an explosive spark to the Army offense.
In the loss to Ball State, the Black Knights produced just 70 yards on 30 attempts from two different quarterbacks. Anderson’s 429 designed rushing yards are more than any other non-halfback in the country.
Monken was tight-lipped at his weekly press conference, not just about Christian Anderson, but Tyhier Tyler, who ran for 63 yards against Ball State.
Without Anderson under center for Army, the Wisconsin defense may live in the backfield. The healthy of Army quarterbacks and the expected tempo has the total falling below 40.
Army is dead last in plays per minute, while the Badgers rank 105th. Both teams may have a better chance of scoring with defense or special teams before the offenses.
Both rosters are top-25 in special teams, but the Wisconsin offense is near dead last in Finishing Drives. The Badgers average just 2.6 points per drive when a possession goes beyond the 40-yard line.
The projection on this game is Wisconsin -13, but the health of Anderson is paramount to Army’s offensive success. The news of Anderson’s status will determine the closing line, with his presence making the Army spread worth a look over three scores.
Instead, the focus should be on the total, with an Action Network projection of 44.
The Wisconsin defense is second in the nation in Stuff Rate, per Football Outsiders, an indication that if Army is going to score points, it must come on quarterback keeps or pitches.
On the other side of the ball, the Black Knights have had issues generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks with a grade of 81st, according to PFF.
Mertz should not see much pressure, a factor that should get the Wisconsin passing game moving the chains. Look for the Badgers to get their points with a possible assist from the defense and special teams.
Pick: Wisconsin Team Total Over 26.5 or Better
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