Wisconsin vs Ohio State Updated Odds, Prediction, Picks: Saturday CFB Betting Preview
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud (7).
Wisconsin vs Ohio State Odds
-105o / -115u
|Ohio State Odds|
-105o / -115u
Saturday night football heads to Columbus, OH as the Ohio State Buckeyes, favorites to win the Big Ten East, host the Wisconsin Badgers — the favorites in the Big Ten West.
Wisconsin, despite replacing a bunch of starters, had high hopes coming into this season. The Badgers were hoping for progression from Graham Mertz and a huge season from star running back Braelon Allen. Well, things haven't gone according to plan after a 17-14 home loss to Washington State.
However, this is a perfect opportunity to right the ship if the Badgers can stay competitive against Ohio State.
There may have been some question marks about the Ohio State offense after a lackluster performance against Notre Dame on opening weekend, but the Buckeyes put those concerns to rest last Saturday, hanging 77 points on the best defense in the MAC.
Ohio State does has some concerns on the defensive side of the ball, but if the offense continues to excel, then the Buckeyes should be able to defeat the Badgers handily. The question is: Will Ohio State cover the spread?
Mertz was the reason the Wisconsin offense sputtered toward the end of 2021. Mertz finished last season with a 65 PFF passing grade. He averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt and had 13 big-time throws compared to 17 turnover-worthy plays.
Overall, he's been solid through three games. However, he was not good against Washington State, as his PFF passing grade finished at only 64.7. He's not the focal point of the Wisconsin offense, though, as the Badgers ran the ball on 64% of their offensive plays in 2021.
Allen is an absolute star in the making at Wisconsin. He played only eight games in 2021 but led Power Five running backs in yards after contact per attempt, had 28 runs over 10 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry.
This season, he's continued that, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. He already has five touchdowns while putting up 4.62 yards after contact per attempt — a step up from his 2021 mark.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 17, 2022
Wisconsin also returned three starters on the offensive line. Through three games, it owns the 12th-best run-blocking grade in college football, per PFF. The Badgers are also No. 1 in the country in EPA/Rush.
Even though only three starters have returned on the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin looks as dominant as ever.
The Badgers are allowing just 4.2 yards per play and rank seventh in EPA/Play Allowed and first in Defensive Finishing Drives. Wisconsin has allowed its opponents to cross the 40-yard line just five times.
Through three games, the Badgers have allowed just 2.9 yards per carry and rank first in rushing explosiveness allowed. Additionally, they've been getting after the quarterback, ranking fifth in Havoc and owning the 12th-best pass-rushing grade, per PFF.
Not only was Wisconsin incredible against the run last year, but it was the No. 2 team in college football in Passing Success Rate Allowed and allowed only 6.5 yards per attempt.
The Badgers lost all four starters from last season but added three Power Five transfers to help fill the void. They haven't skipped a beat because they now rank 11th in EPA/Pass Allowed and 21st in Passing Success Rate Allowed.
One of the most exciting and electric offenses in college football last season has almost all of its pieces back in 2022.
C.J. Stroud is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, and you can see why. He's put up a whopping 10.0 yards per pass attempt, owns a 91.6 PFF passing grade and threw for 44 touchdowns with just six interceptions last season.
Stroud has continued that in 2022, averaging 11.1 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, he has only seven big-time throws and four turnover-worthy plays, so he's been a bit fortunate to have not thrown a pick yet.
While Stroud has all the talent in the world, it also helps to have the best wide receiver in college football in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who returned to the lineup last week after missing the Arkansas State game due to injury. However, Ohio State was being cautious with him last week, as he ran just 14 routes. Ryan Day expects him to be full go Saturday night.
Ryan Day is expecting receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming to be full go against Wisconsin after they were limited in their returns last week.
"We'll keep taking it day by day and see how they do, but so far, so good."
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) September 22, 2022
TreVeyon Henderson left the Toledo game early after only four carries for 19 yards, but Day said Henderson is expected to play on Saturday night as well.
Henderson is one of the best running backs in college football and averages 6.8 yards per carry, so that's good news for the Buckeyes going up against Wisconsin's stout front seven.
Ohio State's defense struggled a bit compared to expectations last season. The Buckeyes ranked 66th in Success Rate Allowed and 85th in explosiveness allowed.
They are returning eight starters from that defense and should be improved.
The defensive line got repeatedly gashed in the run game in 2021. The Buckeyes were 45th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 55th in explosive rushing allowed. That hasn't changed much this season because the Buckeyes are 118th in rushing explosiveness allowed and 65th in EPA/Rush allowed.
Those are certainly not the numbers a team wants to see if it's going up against Allen and one of the best offensive lines in the country.
That's one of the reasons Ohio State brought in Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State as its defensive coordinator.
While Ohio State has been really good in terms of Success Rate Allowed, opponents are scoring at way too high of a clip once they get inside the 40-yard line. Arkansas State and Toledo moved the ball inside Ohio State's 40-yard line a combined eight times and came away with 26 points, which is why Ohio State ranks 51st in Defensive Finishing Drives.
Wisconsin vs Ohio State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Wisconsin and Ohio State match up statistically:
Wisconsin Offense vs. Ohio State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Ohio State Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||57||104|
|Seconds per Play||30.6 (125)||27.1 (82)|
|Rush Rate||65.5% (10)||52.2% (79)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Wisconsin vs Ohio State Prediction
This line opened at Ohio State -15 and has been bet up to -19 at some books. The Wisconsin injury list is long and depth is a concern, but only one player on that injury list was as a projected Day 1 starter for the Badgers.
So, I think -19 is way too high against the nation's rushing attack and a top-15 defense in college football.
I only have Ohio State projected as a -12.3 favorite, so I like the value on Wisconsin at +19 and would play it down to +17.