The inaugural Big-10 Championship Game features the 15th ranked Wisconsin Badgers (10-2) taking on the 11th ranked Michigan St. Spartans (10-2) this Saturday night (8:00pm ET) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN in a rematch of their very entertaining meeting from earlier in the year. MSU won that game 37-31 in East Lansing as a 7-point underdog on a last-second TD pass from QB Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol. The Spartans closed the regular season on a 4-gmae winning streak in which they have averaged 38.5 points per game and 423.8 yards per game of total offense. Wisconsin smoked then-20th ranked Penn St. last week in their regular season finale 45-7. Wisconsin is 7-4-1 ATS this season, while MSU is 8-4 ATS.
The offense for the Badgers features NC State transfer Russell Wilson at quarterback, Wilson is the top-rated passer in the country with a 192.9 passer rating, and commands an offense that ranks 4th in the nation in scoring with 44.8 PPG and 12th in total offense with 477.1 yards per contest. The Badger defense has also been outstanding ranking 5th in scoring defense with 15.2 PPG allowed and 7th in total defense with an average of 278.2 YPG allowed. The Spartans have averaged 30.2 PPG on offense (43rd nationally) and 383.7 YPG (64th nationally) on the strength of Cousins and the passing game for the most part. The MSU defense has carried the team, ranking 6th in scoring defense with 15.4 PPG allowed and 3rd in total defense with 266.7 YPG allowed.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Michigan St. Spartans +9.5
@ Wisconsin Badgers -9.5
Over 54.5 (-110)
Under 54.5 (-110)
Wisconsin vs. Michigan St. Pick:
The Spartans are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 Big 10 games and 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog. The Badgers are 14-4-1 ATS in their last 19 games overall and 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 games as a favorite. The over is 35-16-1 in MSU’s last 52 games as an underdog. The over is 19-6-1 in Wisconsin’s last 26 Big 10 games and 19-7 in their last 26 games as a favorite. In head-to-head play, the over is 8-1 in the last 9 meetings between the two teams. The home team is 5-2 TAS in their last 7 meetings and the underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
The Spartans were considerable underdogs at home last time, and they are even bigger underdogs here on a neutral site. MSU does not boast the offensive firepower that Wisconsin does with Wilson at QB and Montee Ball (34 total touchwoods, 1,622 rushing yards) running the ball. Ball had a relatively quiet 115 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting in October, but has been on a tear lately amassing 797 total yards and 13 TDs in the Badgers’ four-game winning streak. The Spartans boast the 11th ranked run defense in the country, allowing only 102. 5 YPG rushing and should be able to at least slow down Ball’s pace from the latter part of the season. MSU has played the Badgers tough, winning three of the last four meetings and has not been blown out by Wisconsin since 2003 when they lost 56-21. 9.5 points is too many to give a good team like Michigan St., the Badgers may get their revenge and punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl in this game, but they will earn it and MSU should fight them tooth-and-nail until the end. Take the Spartans here.