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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin betting preview

Will the Badgers cover against a struggling Nebraska team?

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NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Spread and total based on 8 a.m. odds. For the latest odds, visit The Action Network.

While it’s only been a week, it feels like forever since the Wisconsin Badgers have played a football game. You may recall the Badgers went into Kinnick Stadium at night and dismantled the Iowa Hawkeyes. I hinted that laying the three points with Wisconsin was a lock to win, and I hope you took advantage of that and came out on top. It sets the pick record at 2–2 on the young season.

Now off a bye, the Badgers will square off with a struggling Nebraska Cornhuskers team that has lost eight straight games dating back to last season. The Huskers are 0–4 to start the season, both straight-up and against the spread. Despite the early-season struggles, bettors still respect the Nebraska name and hammered the spread down from Nebraska +18 after opening at +23 at Westgate.

The total opened at 55 but has moved consistently and currently sits at 60. The line movement has been very significant for such a disparity between the teams’ records. With such fluctuation in the market, it would be wise to shop around the different books to get the best numbers. There are a variety out there.

Here are some notable trends for this week’s intriguing match-up:

  • Wisconsin is 2–4 ATS in its last six games
  • Wisconsin is 1–4 ATS in its last five games at Camp Randall Stadium
  • Wisconsin is 7–6 ATS in October under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 2–1 ATS off a bye under Chryst
  • The total has gone over in five of the last seven match-ups between these teams
  • Nebraska is 0–5 ATS in its last five games
  • Nebraska is 18–8 ATS in its last 26 games as the road team
  • Nebraska is 2–5 ATS when taking on Wisconsin

So what does it all mean?

Nebraska has struggled against Wisconsin since the Huskers joined the Big Ten. While the data points above are interesting, it’s hard to gauge any real trends on the Nebraska side as the change of scheme is drastic under new head coach Scott Frost. As a program rebuild has started up, the Huskers still appear a ways away from making anything out of the 2018 season. I think the most notable of the trends above is the 0–5 ATS mark for the Huskers of late, and an 0–4 start to the Frost era.

It’s apparent that the Nebraska program was hampered by Mike Riley and is feeling the effects of that more than anyone expected in 2018. While I believe Frost is a good coach and better recruiter, it’s hard to find any reason to buy into the Huskers so far this season.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, is coming off its best performance to date and a bye week to get refreshed and refocused. Both sides of the ball played soundly vs. Iowa, and a solid two weeks of practice should build on that entering into Saturday evening.

The Pick: Wisconsin (-18)

I thought the spread was dead-on when opening at 23, and some projection models say this should have opened closer to 25. Regardless, I have to lay the 18 with the Badgers. The Huskers have shown me nothing to have any confidence backing them in the betting market so far this season. The Nebraska defense has been abysmal, sitting 97th in total defense. The offense hasn’t helped either, as the Huskers rank 106th in turnovers lost to start the season.

Meanwhile, the Badgers looked to find their stride against Iowa. While a bye week may cause a slow start back up, I have no plausible reason to bet against Wisconsin in this spot. I looked at every number, facet, and trend, and have found nothing to argue the other side based on 2018. Maybe Frost gets this thing turned around and gets a spark under this team, but until I see it, the Huskers are an untouchable team for me in the gambling realm. For that reason alone, I’ll lay the 18 with the Badgers. If it turns out to be an ATS loss, oh well. It won’t be because of any statistical or betting trends.

As for the total, I like the over better than the under simply because of how poor Nebraska’s defense has played. The total has hit over on five of the seven match-0ups between these two teams and, again, I’ve yet to see Nebraska stop anyone. I think the Badgers will get a little test from the creative Nebraska offense, getting them enough points to hit the 60 mark.