The Big Ten West isn’t exactly a gauntlet and that may be part of the reason both of these teams are still ranked. But one more loss for either team will surely put them out of the Top 25 in the final rankings. Even with the same 8-2 record, the Badgers are an -11 point favorite in Madison (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook).
Northwestern took this Game as underdogs last year in a 20-14 slugfest. The only way they can win this one will be if it plays out the same way. Wisconsin’s mess of quarterbacks — Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy — combined to go 12-of-29 with Four interceptions in the loss. One thing going against Northwestern here is that the home team has won eight straight matchups between these schools.
Wisconsin may not be all that good, but they continue to battle and still only have one loss in the Big Ten. The Badgers have won five straight since falling to Iowa, but as it stands, they still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record.
While the same can’t be said for Northwestern (wins over Stanford, Duke and Penn State), the Wildcats were also clobbered in their two losses to Michigan and Iowa. The jury is still out on this team, and three straight wins by a touchdown or less doesn’t help its matters in the odds.
Much like Wisconsin’s previous Games against a team with a decent defense, this one is projected to be low scoring. The Wildcats used to be one of the best, but have allowed plenty of points lately. Although, that may not be a huge issue here. With running back Corey Clement likely out again, Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal will see plenty of carries for Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Ogunbowale hasn’t had above three yards per carry in three straight Games and this one probably won’t be any different. To win this Game — and cover — the Badgers will need Joel Stave to make something happen. That means not turning the ball over, which is still an issue for him as he has 10 TDs and 8 INTs on the year. Once Wisconsin falls behind, they are close to done because of Stave’s struggles.
However, Northwestern’s offense isn’t any better. Much like Wisconsin, the Wildcats hate passing the ball. Starting quarterback Clayton Thorson is just 14-of-27 in the last two Games for zero touchdowns and an interception. As a team, they have seven passing TDs and eight INTs this year. Running back Justin Jackson leads the way for the offense and he has 1,033 yards and two touchdowns for the season. If they can get him going, that may be enough to cover this Game.
The difference here is that Wisconsin has the No. 5 rush defense in the country, allowing 97.3 yards per Game. Northwestern is good, but a level below that allowing 136.2 yards per Game. The advantage goes to the home team and a reason the spread is so high.
The home team has covered in eight straight meetings between these teams, which is almost all that needs to be said about this matchup. Also in Wisconsin’s favor is that they are 14-2 ATS in their last 16 Games following a bye week.
Our Pick – A couple of good defenses here however it should be noted that these two defenses weren’t as good with each step up in class.
Northwestern did shut down Stanford to sart the year, but since then have given up 38 to Michigan, 40 to Iowa and 28 to Nebraska.
We see more of the same here as Wisconsin is the more well rounded team in this matchup on both sides of the ball plus they can gain a little revenge for last years 20-14 loss at Northwestern. Wisconsin -10