Pick – Analysis
Is Wisconsin good enough to be ranked? The Badgers haven’t played a decent team since losing to Alabama. They finally get a test as Big Ten play opens up, but Iowa’s 4-0 record may be a little overstated as well. At 5 Dimes Sportsbook, the Badgers are a -7 point home favorite.
Wisconsin was completely demolished by the Crimson Tide in the opener, and followed that up by allowing three points in their next three Games. While that doesn’t exactly say a lot, Iowa is undefeated only because of Schedule as well. The Hawkeyes’ hardest two Games came at Iowa State (31-17) and against Pittsburgh (27-24). Maybe previous versions of this team would have lost one of those Games, but there’s still not much to be impressed by, outside of a 3-1 ATS record.
Wisconsin is built the same way as always even with Paul Chryst as head coach. They are going to run it as much as possible. Even after an injury to Corey Clement in the opener, the Badgers have split time between Taiwan Deal (290 yards, 4 TDs) and Dare Ogunbowale (281 yards, 3 TDs) and both have been great. But entering Conference play, things may get a little more difficult. If there is any kind of resistance to that ground Game, Joel Stave will need to take over and that’s usually never a good thing. And we’ll likely get to see how Stave looks in this Game because Iowa’s run defense has been pretty stout so far, stopping the likes of Iowa State to 63 rushing yards and Pittsburgh to 55. Those are solid numbers. Expect Stave to look for Alex Erickson (23 receptions, 320 yards) as much as possible along with big red zone targets Robert Wheelwright and Austin Taylor, who have three TDs apiece.
On the other end, the Badgers are still a question. They were run over by Alabama, which isn’t a surprise, but have dominated lower-level teams. The Hawkeyes are a run-first team as well, but their quarterback has looked a little better.
In his first full season as the team’s starter, C.J. Beathard has played well through Four Games, completing 68.2% of his passes for 6 TDs and a pick. His mobility (151 rushing yards, 3 TDs) has only helped. Iowa’s running Game is getting the job done with Jordan Canzeri as well, who has 316 yards and eight touchdowns.
This matchup is usually pretty even, and that was seen last year with the Badgers escaping in a 26-24 win. Most of that was due to Melvin Gordon being Melvin Gordon (200 yards, 2 TDs), but both teams have a lot of new faces this year. Surprisingly, this is the first time Iowa is playing at Wisconsin since 2009 when the Hawkeyes won.
The over is 5-0-2 in Iowa’s last seven Games vs. a team with a winning record, while Wisconsin has covered in five straight home Games against a team with a winning road record. In this meeting, the Hawkeyes are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 and they have covered in the last Four Games played at Camp Randall.
Our Pick – We often refer to public percentages and line movement. Games that see a heavy public percentage one way yet have the line move the opposite way have been profitable for quite a few years. In this Game, we have such a scenario as 65% or so of the action is on the Badgers yet the line opened -9 (betonline) and has moved all the way down to -6.5 in spots or 6 -120. That would mean the Hawkeyes are worth a look, likely drawing sharp action.
But then there’s Our numbers. There’s Our model, along with other statistical handicapping methods that we have used for 30+ years to handicap college football. All of those methods point towards a Badger win and cover.
So which way do we go? When in doubt, we’ll generally always side with Our numbers unless there’s some glaring reason not to. So, for us, it’s Wisconsin -6.5