College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Saturday Betting Guide for Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin (Sept. 25)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Coan.
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin Odds
|Notre Dame Odds||+6.5 (-120)|
|Wisconsin Odds||-6.5 (+100)|
|Moneyline||+190 / -235|
|Over/Under||44 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Back in May, the first Game of the Year numbers were posted, and Notre Dame and Wisconsin in Week 4 became my first selection off the board.
Fast forward to this past weekend, the opening betting odds for this game were near the Game of the Year number of Wisconsin -3.5. Heavy betting action in favor of the Badgers has sent this number near a touchdown, leaving early Wisconsin investors the option to buy out or let it ride.
Notre Dame has had the luck of the Irish thus far in the season, surviving an overtime in Tallahassee followed by a come-from-behind field goal victory over Toledo.
Despite having the lesser Success Rate, Notre Dame covered against Purdue thanks in part to two turnovers by the Boilermakers. Wisconsin will be fresh off two weeks of rest after a heavyweight knockout loss against Penn State and a thrashing of Eastern Michigan.
The sample-set is limited for the Badgers, but early wagers have been all “On, Wisconsin!”
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin Betting Preview
Jack Coan Redemption
With the Ian Book clock expiring, Notre Dame was in the market for a new quarterback.
Jack Coan had been under center for Wisconsin since the 2017 season, leading the Badgers to a blowout victory over Miami in the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl.
Head coach Paul Chryst favored freshman Graham Mertz to be the starting quarterback, giving Coan the chance to talk with other teams through the transfer portal.
After Notre Dame’s loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Coan officially made his way to South Bend.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 18, 2021
The super senior threw a game free of turnover-worthy plays against Purdue, logging four big-time throws despite four drops by receiving targets.
Coan has been under constant harassment with 15 sacks and 42 pressured dropbacks in 118 attempts. Mobility has always been a concern with Coan behind any offensive line, and Notre Dame’s rank of 116th in Havoc Allowed and 122nd in Line Yards points out the struggles for the Irish offense.
Despite heavy blitz from opposing teams, Coan has yet to record a turnover-worthy play in pressured dropbacks.
Until head coach Brian Kelly is ready to field a highly-touted freshman under center, Coan will continue to play game manager despite a 7-of-22 mark on passes over 20 yards.
Kyle Hamilton: Best Safety in College Football?
Notre Dame has arguably the best safety in college football.
No matter how the PFF rankings are sliced, Kyle Hamilton is a top-five safety in slot coverage, interceptions and opposing NFL quarterback rating when targeted.
Hamilton changes the game plan for opposing offenses and supports the Notre Dame rank of top 35 in Defensive Havoc and 35th in coverage.
Mertz has played it safe through two games against the Nittany Lions and Eagles.
The Wisconsin quarterback has thrown 23 passes between zero and nine yards between the hash marks compared to 29 attempts to all other zones on the field.
Notre Dame’s pass coverage in short-yardage situations between the tackles is paramount to the Irish’s success.
Although Notre Dame has run a 4-3 scheme with new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, expect Hamilton to be involved in every single play.
Explosiveness Eludes Wisconsin Offense
In a two-game sample set, Wisconsin is one of the worst offensive explosiveness teams in the country, recording just three plays over 20 yards.
Isaac Guerendo and Chez Mellusi each had plays of 60 yards on the ground against Eastern Michigan, but the passing game failed to record a single 20-yard pass against one of the worst secondaries in the MAC.
ROCKET MAAAAN 🧑🚀
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 16, 2021
The highlights on the ground give the impression that the Badgers running back unit is back to the days of Jonathan Taylor or Montee Ball.
Both Guerendo and Mellusi average less than 2.8 yards after contact, and no Wisconsin running back has created more than six missed tackles.
This is a highly successful ground unit with a 59% Success Rate in standard downs and a Stuff Rate well below the national average, but the Badgers have recorded just two explosive drives in 24 offensive possessions.
Stuff Rate Specialists
Wisconsin is sure to have rushing attempts in standard downs snuffed out on the defensive side of that ball against Notre Dame. The Badgers rank second in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and 12th in Line Yards.
In 32 opponent rushing attempts, Wisconsin has stuffed more than half and allowed just one run to go past 12 yards. Notre Dame is 124th in Offensive Rushing Success Rate, which spells trouble for Irish running back Kyren Williams.
Notre Dame will be forced into passing downs ahead of schedule, allowing an opportunistic defense to create turnovers.
— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) September 12, 2021
The Badgers were the best defense in the nation at stopping explosive plays in 2020. This season has been more of the same.
Wisconsin stands top-25 in Defensive Havoc but has really shined when opponents are in scoring range. After games against Eastern Michigan and Penn State, the Badgers have allowed 1.8 points per opponent drives past the 40-yard line.
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Notre Dame and Wisconsin match up statistically:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
Wisconsin Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
While the spread has been hammered in the market by investors grabbing a line on the Badgers, the key number of seven is where Notre Dame is expected to see buy-back.
Notre Dame struggles offensively to keep drives on the move and converted into points, evidenced by a Finishing Drives mark of 92nd in the country. Coan deserves credit for a constant attack in a crowded pocket, but sustaining drives will continue to be an issue for the Irish.
As for Wisconsin, asking an offense that is in the bottom 10 in offensive explosiveness with a Finishing Drives rank of 124th to cover a spread of a touchdown may be too much without an assist from a chaos-minded defense.
The Badgers will move the chains, and with a tempo rank of 110th in FBS, there will be plenty of opportunity for the sold-out Soldier Field crowd to grab an Old Style beverage and not miss a score.
With our Action Network projection at Wisconsin -4.5, the side is a no-play with the consideration to Notre Dame at a flat +7.
With both offenses running slow tempo without explosiveness and both defenses ranking top-25 in Havoc, there is every reason to think there will be numerous drives ending in a punt.
With an Action Network totals projection at 45, there could be some value in letting these teams try to establish the run through the first half.
The Wisconsin defense will limit all explosive plays from Notre Dame, while the Irish will have Hamilton patrol the hash marks, where Mertz is most comfortable.
Without a running back generating yards after contact on both sides, the first-half under is the play.