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Wisconsin hosts UTEP Saturday in a game that can be seen on ESPN2 at 12 noon est. The Badgers are a -17 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook and betonline with a total of 48. The current betting trends at the worlds largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag show 61% of the wager so far coming in on the badgers.
Who can you trust in this game? Two teams that haven't really been kind to betters in recent games face off in Madison. Wisconsin has lost five straight games against the spread and is 1-7 in their last eight. UTEP isn't better and also sport a 1-7 ATS record. Who will break the trend? The Badgers come in as heavy favorites, something that hasn't really mattered for them this year as every one of their games has gone down to the final few drives.
Wisconsin has not gotten anything going on the offensive side of the ball with Danny O'Brien. They have a mere five total TDs through three games. Montee Ball had 39 total TDs in 2011. Something is definitely wrong. O'Brien's numbers are mediocre at 454 yards and three TDs with a 62% completion rate. Ball has two TDs to go along with 320 yards. However, he's averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He averaged 6.3 YPC all of last season! No matter, expect a healthy dose from Ball once again (37 carries last week) is this low-scoring affair. Nick Toon is gone from their receiving core which leaves Jared Abbrederis as their top receiving option which isn't saying much.
This could be yet another struggle for Wisconsin. UTEP held Oklahoma to 24 points earlier in the year which shows what they are capable of. The Badgers were only able to score seven points against Oregon State and 16 against Utah State.
The Miners finally showed some life last week against New Mexico State scoring 41 points after totaling just 17 in their first two games. Quarterback Nick Lamaison hasn't been entirely efficient (54.5% completion), but he still has five TDs compared to zero interceptions which is good as they won't be able to beat Wisconsin if they turn it over on the road. UTEP runs the ball about 50 percent of the time with freshman Autrey Golden and sophomore Nathan Jeffery. The two have combined for 301 yards on 45 carries. Jordan Leslie and Michael Edwards are the two WRs to watch out for as they get about half the targets from Lamaison. They have combined for 28 catches, 407 yards and three TDs.
Wisconsin's defense has been tough so far and will likely cause trouble for the Miners. Losing their offensive coordinator and QB Danny O'Brien has had a big impact on this offense, but the talent is still there. Bielema is keeping quiet on naming his starting quarterback. Bielema benched starter Danny O'Brien at halftime of the Utah State game. Freshman Joel Stave played the second half. The feeling here is still that the Wisconsin offense is going to explode at some point. There's too much talent for that not to happen. So, why not this week.
Defense hasn't been a problem for the Badgers and if you look at what UTEP was able to do offensively against Oklahoma and Ole Miss (not much) you have to assume Wisconsin will do the same. If this is the week the offense comes together, this could be an easy win and cover. Wisconsin -17
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