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Wisconsin

vs.

Michigan State

Big 10

College Football Pick

9/24/16

Wisconsin is finally challenging itself in the non-conference schedule, at least more than previous years, and this time it worked. With a win over LSU at Lambeau Field in the opener, the Badgers climbed into the top 10 and look like a legit Big Ten West contender, especially with Iowa's recent loss. However, their next four games are the toughest in the conference, starting with a game in East Lansing against a Spartan team coming off a big win over Notre Dame. The Spartans are a -5.5 point favorite.

Speaking of that win in South Bend, Michigan State surprised a lot of people, especially since they were a touchdown underdog. They got out to a 36-7 lead and almost let it slip away, but managed the win in the end. They went for 500 total yards on the offensive end in the win, which no one really saw coming with Tyler O'Connor at quarterback. But can this offense do the same against an actually good defense?

At least the thought is that the Badgers have a good defense again. They beat up on their early opponents, but none of them are really known for having great offenses, including LSU. Even in Wisconsin's last win over Georgia State, it wasn't pretty, winning just 23-17, needing two late scores to win after being down in the fourth quarter.

The Badgers are built upon a run game and everyone knows that. Without Corey Clement, they didn't find enough holes in the Georgia State win and that led to some struggles. Even if Clement returns in this game, it'll be difficult for Wisconsin to find room in the running game against this Michigan State front line. The Spartans are coming off a game in which they allowed 2.3 yards per carry against a solid Notre Dame offense. The Irish eventually moved the ball through the air, but that may not be something Wisconsin can do.

The Badgers are dealing with a QB issue, which was known going into the season. The starter, Bart Houston, was actually benched for Alex Hornibrook against Georgia State if that says anything. The two have been fine in the early going, but it hasn't been pretty. On the road against MSU, this offense will run into problems.

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For the Badgers to win, or even cover, they'll need their defense to live up to the early projections. And that should be possible. The Spartans have a problem of playing up or down to the level of opponents, so it wouldn't be surprising if this game were close and low scoring throughout.

MSU ran the ball with ease against the Irish, but will have a much tougher time against the Badgers. Against a similarly limited offense of LSU, Wisconsin held the Tigers in check, despite Leonard Fournette rushing for 138 yards.

Can O'Connor and his running backs build off last week's success on offense, or will they come back to earth and struggle to move the ball against a good defense? All signs point to few points, which gives the Badgers a better chance at covering this one. But if Michigan State's offense is for real, maybe that result will be a bit different.

You know Michigan State was sky high last week for their trip to South Bend. Not easy to get sky high two weeks in a row. Perfect spot for a letdown. Our numbers have this one tight so we'll grab the points here. Wisconsin +5

 

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