Wisconsin-Michigan Betting Guide: Bettors Fading Harbaugh Beware
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jim Harbaugh, Shea Patterson and Alex Hornibrook
Wisconsin-Michigan Betting Odds, Pick
- Line: Michigan -10
- Over/Under: 49
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ABC
>> All odds as of 8 a.m. ET on Saturday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
No matter how good the Michigan defense is, nor how much the offense is improving under Shea Patterson, the public does not want to back the Wolverines in big games.
Since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2015, Michigan has played 13 ranked opponents yet has gotten the majority of the bets only three times. He’s 6-7 against the spread and 5-8 straight up in those games.
Against ranked Big Ten teams, Harbaugh is 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS.
Is now the time to back Harbaugh as a home favorite getting no love? Or will this troubling trend continue?
Market Moves for Michigan-Wisconsin
A big-name school favored at home is usually a public bettor’s dream. This week, though, Michigan is receiving only 39% of bets. Despite that low support, the Wolverines have gone from -7 to -10 as sharp money poured in.
Trends to Know
By John Ewing
A profitable over/under strategy for college football, in three steps:
- Target heavily bet games
- Target games with low totals (less than 50 points)
- Bet the under
Following this strategy has returned a profit of +55.21 units for bettors since 2005.
By Evan Abrams
Michigan is favored by more than a touchdown at home against Wisconsin this week and bettors are jumping ship on the Wolverines, which in the past has been a good strategy.
Since 2005, Michigan is 18-30 ATS (-12.7 units) when the public is backing its opponent (49% tickets or less on Michigan).
The only other Power 5 team since 2005 less profitable than Michigan in this spot? The Kansas Jayhawks (39-52 ATS, -15.1 units).
Michigan’s Defense … Still Dominant
By any metric you use to slice it — standard, advanced, per game, per play — Michigan’s defense is elite.
The Wolverines have the size to compete with Wisconsin’s mauling offensive line, and they’re even better against the run than the pass. Michigan on defense ranks top six nationally in rushing efficiency, explosiveness, stuff rate (carries for 0 or loss of yards) and opportunity rate (carries for 5 yards).
Despite Wisconsin’s struggles at times this season, Jonathan Taylor has been excellent with 849 yards on 6.7 yards per carry. Don’t expect a big day out of him against the Wolverines, however.
Not Your Typical Wisconsin
In some ways, the 2018 Badgers are still the Badgers. The offense is efficient but not explosive. The offensive line is excellent in run blocking. The Badgers are physical and disciplined.
So what’s different? The defense ranks 55th in S&P+. The Badgers defense hasn’t ended a season that low since finishing 55th in 2011. And this season, getting to the quarterback has been a major issue.
Wisconsin ranks 115th in sack rate, sacking the quarterback on just 3.8% of dropbacks. Last year, it ranked 11th.
The Badgers rank 53rd in havoc (tackles for loss, forced fumbles, pass breakups). Last year, it was No. 2 in the nation. They’re just not the disruptive force we’ve come to expect, though injuries have played a part.
The points per game are fine, but the underlying numbers aren’t. Wisconsin gave up 17 points to Iowa, but the Hawkeyes had an excellent 7.48 yards per play. Three turnovers did them in.
So how will this affect Saturday’s game against Michigan? Notre Dame gave a pretty good blueprint on how to stifle the Wolverines offense (or any offense, really). The Irish had three sacks, seven TFL and six quarterback hurries.
Against Michigan’s much-improved offensive line, Wisconsin needs to find a way to make Patterson uncomfortable, and I’m not sure the Badgers can do that.
Bet to Watch for Michigan-Wisconsin
This line opened at Michigan -7 and took heavy action on the Wolverines through Monday and Tuesday. There’s a reason for that.
Wisconsin has a defensive S&P+ ranking of 55th, which is expected after a deep dive into how close the Iowa game was and what the BYU offense was able to do against the Badgers. When you take in Wisconsin’s 88th-ranked strength of schedule, you realize that this team has underperformed against the likes of New Mexico and Nebraska, which both covered in Camp Randall.
Patterson is becoming more comfortable under center for Michigan as the weeks go by. The Wolverines are now 12th in passing efficiency and 19th in completion rate.
Patterson is complemented by a rushing attack, led by Karan Higdon, that’s 24th in ground explosiveness. Michigan is developing a one-two punch offensively that will be tough to stop in the future.
The handicap for this game comes down to Wisconsin’s pressure on Patterson. The Badgers are 118th in passing downs sack rate, so Patterson should have plenty of time to throw. On top of that, Wisconsin’s defense is 56th in completion rate and 86th in defending pass explosiveness. There is a chance Michigan could have its best offensive day of the 2018 season.
On the other side of the ball, expect Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook to be harassed by one of the top defenses in the nation. The Wolverines are top 10 in almost every advanced statistical category on defense, which does not bode well for a Wisconsin offensive line that ranks 72nd in adjusted sack rate.
This one could get ugly. I’m on the Wolverines.