Michigan State and Wisconsin have played just once in the last six years. When they met in 2016, the Badgers were out gained by the Spartans, yet came away with a 30-6 road win thanks to a few interceptions.
Surprisingly, this is the biggest spread between these teams in the past 10 matchups as Wisconsin was an early -10 point home favorite with an over/under of 40.5.
Wisconsin has had a nice start to the season, but bettors are still questioning just how good this team can be. Their lone road game came against USF and while they destroyed Michigan, they had trouble putting away Northwestern the next week.
Maybe the best thing for Wisconsin in this matchup is that it got a free win last week compared to Michigan State having to travel to Columbus. The Spartans are on the second leg of maybe the toughest two week stretch in the Big Ten.
This spread would be bigger if it weren’t for MSU’s run defense, which is limiting opponents to 100.3 rushing yards per game, even though they just gave up 323 rushing yards to Ohio State.
The difference between OSU and Wisconsin is that OSU is a little more dynamic with a mobile quarterback. Wisconsin’s goal is to simply overpower the opponent with Jonathan Taylor and while that works against most, it wouldn’t be surprising if he struggled against this front.
While he’s averaging 7.2 yards per carry for 12 touchdowns, he had issues getting going against Northwestern. It’s possible this MSU run defense keeps Taylor from rushing for 100 yards, which means the rest of the production will be on quarterback Jack Coan.
Given Taylor’s numbers, Coan hasn’t been asked to do much with seven touchdowns and one pick, but he still hasn’t thrown any games away, which is all Wisconsin needs.
The other part to the Badgers is that their defense may be just as good as Ohio State’s, allowing a combined 29 points to Michigan and Northwestern. Of course, even though MSU’s offense isn’t considered good, it may be better than anything Wisconsin has faced.
The Spartans at least have playmakers that could keep this game competitive. It also can’t be ignored that MSU went to Northwestern and won 31-10, which was a better result than what Wisconsin had at home.
Brian Lewerke isn’t a game breaker at quarterback, but he’s put up fine numbers with 11 touchdowns and isn’t turning the ball over too much with just two picks.
The problem is that MSU’s offensive line could have an issue in this game and that could lead to a tough time for running back Elijah Collins, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Still, receivers Darrell Stewart and Cody White have the talent to get open against most defenses, including this one.
Michigan State was competitive for parts of the Ohio State loss, but ultimately made too many mistakes. Remove those mistakes and staying competitive isn’t impossible, especially considering how run-focused Wisconsin’s offense is.
Most of MSU’s trends point to the under and Wisconsin is 5-1 ATS in its last six games overall. The underdog has covered in the last five meetings between these schools and the over is 5-1 in the last six meetings played in Wisconsin.
Our Pick – Wisconsin -10