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College Football Pick
Michigan State is in danger of having their first losing record since the 2009 season when they finished 6-7. This year has not gone the way they planned it would be with a 1-3 record in Big 10 play. Last year, they eked out late wins, this year it's the opposite as those three losses are by a combined six points. The same can be said about Wisconsin as they were ranked higher than MSU when the season started. The Badgers started off slow, but have seemingly gotten it back together in Big 10 action. Although when looking at their last three wins, none of their opponents have a win in conference play (all 0-3).
That Michigan State defense is allowing just over 15 points per game and stopped Denard Robinson and the big-play Michigan offense last week to four field goals. Wisconsin has been scoring more than 30 points per game in their last five contests, but this will probably be the best defense they've faced up until now. Montee Ball will have to match last year's output from 2011 against MSU. In two games, he rushed for over 250 total yards and four TDs. His numbers have picked up hugely over Wisconsin's last three wins averaging over 150 yards and two touchdowns per game. Joel Stave has led the Badgers rejuvenated offense as he has now started five straight games. While his numbers aren't amazing (five TDs, three INTs), they are scoring more points. Early in the season with Danny O'Brien leading the way, Wisconsin was held to seven and 16 points against Oregon State and Utah State, respectively. Jared Abbrederis has been huge for Stave on the long ball. He has 627 yards and five TDs on the year with an average of 19 yards per catch.
The Badgers aren't that bad on defense either, in fact they only give up two more points per game than the Spartans. Still, they have given up big games (something MSU hasn't) to Nebraska (30 points) and UTEP (26 points). That shouldn't happen against Michigan State since they have an offensive deficiency, scoring under 20 points per game. They have not been able to score more than 16 points against anyone with a winning record.
QB Andrew Maxwell actually has a decent amount of yardage with 1,799, but he's only completing 55 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Even with a power running game, he has still attempted 100 more passes than the Wisconsin QBs. Running back Le'Veon Bell is only 16 yards short of 1,000 and has eight TDs. When he struggles, Michigan State struggles. Teams know that so they stack the box on him and make Maxwell beat them, something he hasn't been able to do yet. Top receiving threat Dion Sims should be healthier for this game which will be a big boost as the MSU receivers are inconsistent at best.
They split last year's series, but Michigan State covered in both of them as underdogs. The Spartans have covered in five of the last seven meetings. MSU sits at 2-6 ATS this year while Wisconsin has covered four straight and are an even 4-4 ATS. The Spartans are 6-1 ATS in their in their last seven road games while the Badgers are 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 home games. The over is a ridiculous 9-1 in their past 10 meetings.
The key to this game is the Michigan State sputtering offense. Their yards per point number of 18.9 places them at 115th i the nation out of 125 teams we chart. That's not the kind of offense you want to be investing in, especially in a game where you may need them to come from behind. That being said, our numbers and our model still suggest that the gap will be under a touchdown here, making +6.5 or more the way to go. Also note that 4 of the last 6 in this series were decided by a TD or less. Michigan State +6.5 and Under 41.5
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