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Wisconsin vs. Purdue betting preview

How will the Badgers fare in their trip to West Lafayette?

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Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Spread and total based on Saturday morning odds from The Action Network.


The Wisconsin Badgers suffered another tough loss last week on their trip to Happy Valley, but if you stuck with the betting preview, you at least made some cash in your misery as the Nittany Lions were able to cover as an eight-point favorite. With the poor offensive showing from Wisconsin and the somewhat sloppy play by Penn State, the under was never in doubt as the total points scored landed at just 32.

Now the Badgers must again take to the road to play in beautiful West Lafayette, Ind. Much like Wisconsin, the Purdue Boilermakers have had a very disappointing season compared to the outlook at the beginning of the year. Purdue looked to be making strides under Jeff Brohm and was expected to compete for a Big Ten West title. Now, at a 5–5 mark, the Boilermakers are battling just for bowl eligibility.

The line for this game opened with Wisconsin as a six-point dog on the road, but has been heavily bet down to 4 over the course of the week with Wisconsin receiving 79 percent of the money at this point. The total for this game opened at 48 and was bet up to 54 by public bettors, as the over is receiving 91 percent of the total bets but just 30 percent of the money, meaning the sharps (professional bettors) prefer the under in this match-up. With both teams looking to salvage their season and end on a high note, here are some notable trends to help you decide where you want to play.

  • Wisconsin has won 12 consecutive games (SU) against Purdue
  • Wisconsin is 10–2 ATS in the 12-game winning steak over Purdue
  • Wisconsin is 12–5 ATS in its last 17 road games
  • Wisconsin is 1–3 ATS on the road this season
  • Purdue is 4–1 ATS in its last five home games
  • Purdue is 0–5 ATS in its last five home games hosting Wisconsin
  • Purdue is 5–2 SU in its last seven games
  • The total has gone under in eight of the last 12 match-ups between Purdue and Wisconsin

The one glaring trend above is the first bullet, which states that the Badgers have had Purdue’s number for more than a decade, and it all started with the legendary scoop-and-score by Scott Starks.

The Badgers have also done very well on the monetary side, as they are 10–2 ATS over the 12-game mark. Despite that, this is probably the most even-keel match-up these two have had over the course of the streak. Purdue has turned it around after an 0–3 start, going 5–2 over its last seven and the offense looking much improved during that span.

The Pick: If Alex Hornibrook plays, Wisconsin (+4.5). If Hornibrook doesn’t play, Purdue (-any spread you give me)

This game is very tough to call with the unclear status of Wisconsin’s quarterback. He’s currently listed as questionable and while he has practiced and been involved some this week, there has not been a clear announcement either way. There’s no longer a question on which QB brings more to the offense, as the Badgers had nothing going for them after the 71-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Taylor last week. If Hornibrook plays, I feel that the offense will be more dynamic and able to move and sustain drives. If not, we’ll see the same shoddy offense we saw last week, which I cannot bank my hard-earned money on.

Over/Under?

Again, a lot of this comes back to the same earlier point. If Hornibrook is able to play, I expect Wisconsin to put up more points. If Jack Coan plays, you would have to hope Purdue scores 35 or more, or you’ll have the same result as last week. Whoever plays, Wisconsin will still look to establish the run and melt the clock in order to keep the ball away from the Air R aid offense of Purdue.

The Boilermakers can certainly score at a high rate when they’re on, averaging 32 points per game over their last seven. The tricky part is trying to figure out which Purdue offense shows up. In the five games they’ve won, they’ve averaged 41 PPG. In the five they’ve lost, they’ve averaged just 21. Those numbers are glaring signs of a very inconsistent offense. With a pass-happy offense like Jeff Brohm’s, that’s bound to happen at times.

With question marks and inconsistency being a key factor in both offenses, I would stay away from playing the total. If I had to pick, I would lean with the under simply because you have a 50/50 shot of both offenses struggling to play the way they should. Another factor may be the weather, as the forecast calls for 30–34 degrees with a snow-shower mix. Cold and precipitation heavily affect passing games, which could inhibit another low-scoring affair.