Michigan vs. Wisconsin College Football Odds & Picks: How To Bet Saturday’s Big Ten Battle (Oct. 2)
Blake Corum, Mike Sainristil
- The Michigan Wolverines travel to Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday to take on the Wisconsin Badgers is Big Ten college football action.
- The Badgers fell to Notre Dame in devastating fashion last week, while the Wolverines have caught fire.
- Check out Alex Kolodziej's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the Big Ten battle below.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin Odds
|Moneyline||+110 / -130|
|Over/Under||43.5 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines have passed every test they’ve taken this season. Another strong performance at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday would go a long way for the head coach and his newly minted four-year contract extension.
Standing in the way of a 5-0 start for the 14th-ranked Wolverines are the Wisconsin Badgers, who have owned this series of late.
Although the Wolverines are 51-17-1 all time against the Badgers, they’re 0-3 on the road at Wisconsin under Harbaugh. Michigan hasn’t won in Madison since 2001.
Wisconsin planned to play this game with more on the line before the season. However, a couple early losses have thrust Paul Chryst’s squad into more of a spoiler role on Saturday.
Will the Badgers be ready, or fall into a hangover spot off a loss to Notre Dame, against which they were a 6.5-point favorite?
Michigan vs. Wisconsin Betting Preview
The Wolverines have always relied on the ground game under Harbaugh, but he’s never had a unit in Ann Arbor that has clocked out with a rush rate north of 60%.
That could all change by season’s end, if all goes according to plan.
If the service academies didn’t exist, Michigan’s 73.7% run-play frequency would lead the entire country.
The offense will have to throw at some point. But as the old adage goes, don’t fix what ain’t broken.
Michigan’s not only running at a high rate, but it’s running effectively. The ground game is tied for third in the country in yards per carry (6.3), led by the dynamic duo of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins.
Corum crossed the century mark in each of his first three games of the season, posting three touchdowns in both Week 2 and 3.
Haskins, meanwhile, has registered multiple scores in each of the last two games, giving the Wolverines a firm one-two punch out of the backfield.
Don Brown was shown the door, so Harbaugh poached defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald from the Ravens.
So far, it’s been a nice change of pace.
Michigan has yet to allow more than 14 points in a single game this fall. Its 11.8 allowed per contest ranks fourth nationally, despite the unit recording just a lone takeaway.
The Wolverines created plenty of Havoc up front during the Brown era, save for a 2020 season, during which they were second-last in the country.
The 2021 unit is more in the middle of the pack (54th), but they have yet to unravel, ranking sixth in Finishing Drives.
The good news is quarterback Graham Mertz can’t possibly be worse than last weekend.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore went 18-of-41 with four interceptions in a blowout loss to the Fighting Irish. He finished with the worst EPA/play (-0.5) for any quarterback in Week 4, along with the fourth-worst QBR.
The bad news is this version of Mertz is becoming a pattern.
Saturday was the second time in three games the quarterback threw multiple interceptions and registered a QBR worse than 18.0.
Mertz is currently 105th in the nation in EPA. Ahead of him are starting quarterbacks for UNLV, UMass, Colorado State, UL Monroe, Vanderbilt, Temple, Akron, Ohio and Kansas, among other struggling programs.
The Achilles heel has been the red zone– Wisconsin’s 129th in Finishing Drives — but the offense still needs more on a down-to-down basis: The Badgers are averaging a woeful 4.9 yards per play.
If anyone’s up for the challenge of stopping the rush, it’s Wisconsin. The Badgers lead the country in both yards per rush allowed (1.0) and Havoc.
Highly coveted defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard put on a clinic last season, helping Wisconsin rank fourth in defensive SP+. The Badgers faced three ranked opponents and held the trio to fewer than 20 points per game on average.
Wisconsin embarrassed Michigan in the Big House in last year’s 49-11 rout, coughing up just 215 total yards and 10 first downs.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Michigan and Wisconsin match up statistically:
Michigan Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
Wisconsin Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Talk about a prototypical Big Ten clash.
Harbaugh’s more run-heavy than ever and who knows if Wisconsin trusts Mertz enough to put the ball in the air.
The market’s expecting a slog, projecting the tilt for roughly 43.5 points.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
Wisconsin might have a problem under center, but I can’t make a play off Mertz.
In fact, it’s Michigan’s offense I want to fade in this spot.
Wisconsin’s defense hasn’t wavered amid a 1-2 start. The Badgers are giving up the second-fewest yards per game (210.3) in the entire country and are top-25 nationally across the board in the metrics we analyze, save for Pass Blocking.
Do bettors understand how difficult it is to score at Camp Randall? Chryst’s defense has been money at home, cashing five straight opponent team total unders.
Wisconsin was poised to hold its third straight opponent under the team total to kick off the year last week, had it not been for Notre Dame’s kick return touchdown and two ensuing pick-sixes late in the fourth.
Michigan’s been running all over MAC opponents this season and has yet to be forced into a passing script.
This is a steep step up in competition, in what’ll be the team’s first true road game in seemingly forever.
Play the team total at 20.5 or better.