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Wisconsin

vs.

BYU

College Football

Free Pick

9/16/17

Wisconsin hasn’t dominated in the way that some expected this team to and that has the media off its scent on a national level. Still, the Badgers have won two games quite easily and get another team that has struggled to do much against better competition. An early line wasn’t posted for this game as BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum was questionable with an ankle injury, but Wisconsin is a  -17 point road favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Cougars already had trouble moving the ball and now may not have their starting quarterback against one of the better defenses in the country. BYU scored just 33 points in its first three games with the 20 points against Portland Stand the one that stands out. Getting shut out by LSU isn’t that abnormal, but just 20 points against an FCS school isn’t great. BYU will want to keep this game as low scoring as possible and that may not be a stretch.

Then again, this isn’t the same Wisconsin team as a year ago that was considered defense first and nothing else. The Badgers have picked it up offensively with the help of a more experienced Alex Hornibrook under center (4 TDs, 1 INT). Per usual, they’ll still run the ball plenty between a trio of backs led by Jonathan Taylor (310 yards, 4 TDs), but the passing game has been competent against weaker competition, something that wasn’t the case last year.  

And while BYU’s defense looks better on paper, this group still was handled fairly easily against LSU in a 27-0 loss. The Tigers ran for 296 yards and that’s exactly what Wisconsin could do in this game. As for the BYU offense against LSU, it ran for -5 yards while Mangum passed for just 102.

Now at home, the Cougars have a huge task on their hands against a team that went toe-to-toe with LSU last season and didn’t lose much from that squad. For BYU to cover, it would require the Cougars to hold Wisconsin in the 20-point range because it’s far from a guarantee that this team will reach double-digits. If Mangum can’t play due to a bad ankle, that may be even worse for the Cougars because they have little experience outside of Mangum on the depth chart. And if that’s the case, the last thing you’d want to bet on is BYU’s ground game.

Squally Canada and Kavika Fonua are both averaging at least 4.8 yards per carry, but most of that can be pointed to the Portland State game. BYU’s top two running backs rushed for a total of 39 yards in its two losses against FBS schools. With Wisconsin being every bit as good as those schools, it’s likely that most of the money will come in on the Badgers. If they can reach 30 points again, that may be all that’s needed to cover this game. And even if they reach only 20 points, there would still be a shot to cover for Wisconsin, due to how the BYU offense has looked.

Our Pick - Being the more battle tested team at this point should HELP BYU here. Our model had this a TD game had it been played at the end of last season. The talent hasn't changed enough to warrant the current spread. This numbers too big. BYU +17

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