College Football Week 2 Betting Odds & Pick for Eastern Michigan vs. Wisconsin: Why Eyeing the Total is the Proper Play

College Football Week 2 Betting Odds & Pick for Eastern Michigan vs. Wisconsin: Why Eyeing the Total is the Proper Play article feature image
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Eastern Michigan vs. Wisconsin Odds

Saturday, Sept. 11
7 p.m. ET
FS1
Eastern Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+26
52
+105o / -115u
+1400
Wisconsin Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-26
52
+105o / -115u
-3300
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

After Wisconsin lost its season-opener to Penn State as a 6.5-point home favorite,  Eastern Michigan now has the difficult task of walking into Camp Randall Stadium as a 26-point underdog, a dog that is outclassed on paper in almost every statistical category.

While this originally looked like a potential letdown spot for the Badgers had they beaten Penn State with an early bye week and Notre Dame looming, that’s less true now because Wisconsin lost.

Paul Chryst’s Badgers have matchup edges all over the field, but it’s slow-paced offense that lacks explosiveness makes it difficult to trust them to cover huge spreads.

However, due to their expected defensive line domination and slow pace, this game has too high of a total at 52.


Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan grabbed a home win against FCS school St. Francis (Pa.) in week one, 35-15. The offense was efficient, especially in the red zone, and really controlled the line of scrimmage and time of possession in that game. EMU had the ball for 34 of the 60 minutes of its opening contest.

Head coach Chris Creighton has a lot of returning production with 20 of 22 returning starts back on the team that finished 2-4 in the MAC in 2020.

The Eagles have been excellent on the road as underdogs in non-conference play under Creighton, losing to Pittsburgh by four in 2019 and beating Illinois that year. In ’18, they upset Purdue at Purdue and lost to San Diego State in overtime. In ’17, the Eagles lost by four at Kentucky.

They’ve shown they can hang with some of the Power Five in years past, but none of those teams have the defense that Wisconsin does.


Eagles Offense

Eastern Michigan finished drives really well against St. Francis last week but is facing a significant step up in class this week, when they will face the sixth-best team in the country in finishing drives defensively.

The Eagles did have an excellent passing offense for MAC standards in 2020, ranking 13th in Passing Success Rate. They didn’t generate much in terms of big plays though because they were 66th in Offensive Explosiveness against an all MAC schedule of pretty bad teams.

The Eastern Michigan offense actually has an edge in Passing Success Rate and Sack Rate, but it will take a long time for the Eagles to move the ball down the field without the explosive plays that Wisconsin doesn’t allow.


Eagles Defense

Eastern Michigan’s defense was its weakness in 2020 and even with almost all of its starters returning, it will still be pretty bad this year. Rankings of 126th in Line Yards, 102nd in Sack Rate and 127th in Rushing Success Rate all suggest that Wisconsin will be able to move the ball with ease.

Two areas where the EMU defense was solid in 2020 was in preventing big plays. The Eagles ranked third best in 2020 in Offensive Explosiveness allowed. With Wisconsin’s slow pace, they’ll take time to move down the field.


Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin lost its home opener to Penn State in one of the uglier games of college football’s opening weekend, with a 16-10 final score. The Badgers dominated the time of possession and play count, but they failed to turn that into points as they were held scoreless in the opening half. This is a bounce-back spot for the Badgers, who scored 10 points on 96 plays, making them the fourth team since 2000 to run that many plays and score that few points.


Badgers Offense

Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz lit up Illinois in his first game in 2020 and offered plenty of intrigue for the Badgers that year. He regressed a bit as the season progressed and opened the 2021 season with a dud at home last Saturday. Mertz averaged five yards per attempt, threw two interceptions and fumbled twice (lost one).

While he’ll face a much worse defense in Week 2, there remain questions about Mertz’s ability to find the form he had to begin 2020.

The Badgers offense has an edge almost everywhere against a bad Eagles defense. The Badgers rank 123rd in seconds per play and that’s a major reason Chryst has struggled to cover big spreads in non-conference games.


Badgers Defense

Any concerns about Mertz and the offense may be real, but Wiscosnin’s defense looked as good as ever in the opening week defeat.

The Badgers are third in Rushing Success Rate allowed, 29th in Passing Success Rate allowed. The defensive line doesn’t get pushed around at all and given Eastern Michigan’s offensive line issues, it could be a major concern if the Badgers are living in the Eagles’ backfield. They also don’t surrender touchdowns when teams cross the 40-yard line against them.

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Eastern Michigan vs. Wisconsin Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Eastern Michigan and Wisconsin match up statistically:

Eastern Michigan Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rushing Success 73 3
Passing Success 12 29
Havoc 99 20
Line Yards 110 6
Sack Rate 80 104
Finishing Drives 3 6

Wisconsin Offense vs. Eastern Michigan Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rushing Success 26 127
Passing Success 77 111
Havoc 51 74
Line Yards 102 126
Sack Rate 55 102
Finishing Drives 77 98

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 107 76
Coverage 110 49
Rush Rate 52.4% (82) 59.2% (32)
Seconds per Play 48 123

Data via College Football Data (CFBD) and FootballOutsiders; SP+ projection per ESPN.


Eastern Michigan vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick

Both offenses lack explosiveness, and both teams like to possess the ball and play a move-the-chains style of play. One reason Eastern Michigan has covered so many games under Creighton is that it likes to shorten the game by limiting the number of possessions.

Eastern Michigan’s offense will have trouble moving the ball at all, while the Badgers will take forever to get down the field and turn drives into touchdowns. Given the limited possessions and Creighton’s record as a big underdog, I’m playing the under.

This number of 52 is a key one for a college football total, so I wouldn’t play this any lower than the current number.

Pick: Under 52 (-110 or better)

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