The BIG 10 Conference has a few teams in the top 10 this season. With Michigan back on the map thanks to Jim Harbaugh, the conference is a totally different landscape. Ohio State is still the team to beat, but it’s setting up a mammoth of a matchup between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, if they both stay the course. Wisconsin knocked off a big boy in the BIG 10 a week ago, dispatching the Michigan State Spartans by a score of 30-6. Wisconsin did everything that Michigan State wanted to do, which is frustrate the opposing quarterback and force them into mistakes.
The Badgers were able to frustrate the Michigan State offense, highlighted by a pick-6 to put a dagger in the Spartans. Tyler O’Connor had his worst start of the year, throwing 3 interceptions and no touchdowns. They were also able to nullify the running game, holding Michigan State’s leading running back to only 61 yards on the ground.
The win brought Wisconsin to 4-0 on the year. Michigan is also 4-0 after another easy win last week against Penn State. Penn State had no chance in a 49-10 win to open conference play. Michigan hasn’t been tested to the max yet. The Badgers will be the stiffest test for them in Week 5. Michigan has been on a romp ever since New Year’s Day, after they destroyed the Florida Gators, 41-7, in their bowl game. The Wolverines have won by an average of 52-13.5 in 2016. It’s quite the transformation from the Rich Rod and Brady Hoke days.
However, Wisconsin is coming into Saturday with a ton of confidence after taking down Michigan State. Michigan will have to kill that confidence rather quickly, sort of how Wisconsin did it against the Spartans. They drew up a beautiful game plan to stymie Michigan State, but now they are going to need to do it all over again this week. If they can play at a similar level this is going to be a close game. But doing it twice, especially on the road against two physical teams isn’t going to be all that easy. We’ll see, though, as Wisconsin and Michigan headline a super packed Saturday of college football action.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan Wolverines NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Michigan -10.5(-115)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Wisconsin vs. Michigan Pick:
This will be the stiffest test for both schools this week. The winner will sit alone with Ohio State as the only undefeated team in the conference. Michigan has had a sneaky good offense. They are not flashy, nor do they really intend to be flashy, but they have been able to pile the points up on the board. A great defense makes a decent offense look great as well, and for the most part it’s what we’re seeing here with the Wolverines. Michigan has been able to play with short fields often this season. It’s led to an average of 52 points per game being scored. Not to take anything away from their offense, which is solid in their own right. Wilton Speight has played at a high level in his first season as the starter at Michigan. Speight has thrown for 9 touchdowns with only 1 interception.
Harbaugh did wonders for Andrew Luck in college and Jake Ruddock made it to an NFL roster after just one year with Harbaugh. It seems to be rubbing off on Speight, who is developing into a fine young quarterback. Michigan is 24th in the nation running the ball, averaging 229.8 yards per game. They are also 4th in the country in total points scored per game.
Wisconsin quarterback, Alex Honibrook, got a good look at an elite defense last week and did what he had to do. He threw for 195 yards with a touchdown and interception. It isn’t much but the game didn’t ask him to do too much. I will say that he is going to need to make plays this afternoon. I don’t see him being able to hide behind his defense. On the year, Honibrook has passed for 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
The Badgers average 184.3 yards per game on the ground, their win against LSU and Michigan State was in large part because of the defense. The offense will need to make plays against Michigan on the road. The way I see it, this is a tough position for Wisconsin. They just got done playing a rough, physical defense last week on the road, and now Wisconsin needs to go on the road again and play another physical defense. The line in this game is telling me everything I need to know. If they thought this was going to be a close game, the line would be about -4.5 in favor of Michigan, and I am sure, they would still attract Wisconsin money at +4.5 after what the public watched Wisconsin do last week. Wisconsin springs a leak this week at the Big House, and will not be able to hang with Michigan for four quarters. Michigan should pull away late and cover by about a couple of touchdowns.
PICK: MICHIGAN -10.5 (-115)