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Wisconsin football: Kent State betting preview

Where should you put your money with the Badgers as heavy favorites?

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NCAA Football: Kent State at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

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Wisconsin football is at home this week for a non-conference clash with a lower tier MAC team. Where have we heard that before?

Oh right. Once already this year.

Yes, this game should be similar in the fact that Wisconsin wins handily, but it’s never that easy in the world of sports betting as it’s all about covering the spread. So far the betting preview has been red hot, as my picks are sitting at 6-2 through the first four weeks.

Now we’ve got the chance to continue the roll we’re on but are faced with a unique challenge, a 35-plus point spread. Obviously 35 is a key number as a multiple of seven, so getting to more than that is always hard to do.

This game opened with Wisconsin as a 36.5 favorite and has fluctuated back and fourth from that number over the course of the week. 66% of the money has come in on the Badgers, but the line doesn’t appear to be moving much.

The total for this game has risen quite a bit however. After opening at 56.5 it now sits at 59 after getting a heavy dose of over bets. We’ll dive into the picks in a moment, but first here are some notable trends to consider.

  • Wisconsin is 4-1 ATS in its last five games
  • Wisconsin is 2-5 ATS when favored by more than 30 points in the Paul Chryst era
  • Wisconsin is 0-3 ATS when favored by more than 35 points in the Paul Chryst era

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-36.5)

There aren’t a lot of notable trends in this game, and even the ones that are, I am going against. The Badgers have always struggled to cover games with a spread over 35. Most teams do, its not just a UW thing. It’s a lot of points, and one bad possession or bad play could allow the other team to cover. You’re essentially starting in a 36.5 hole, which, from that perspective, is hard to come back from.

Due to that, you can see why its hard to cover in general. However, I have trouble taking Kent State plus the points here for one reason: the run defense. The Golden Flashes have struggled this season, but their biggest issue is defending the run. Coming into this week the Flashes rank 130 of 130 in rushing defense.

@B5QPhotos; Matt Fleming

Normally I am a proponent of taking these big numbers, but I’d be crazy to take the nation’s worst run defense against Jonathan Taylor. Personally, I don’t love either side but I think it’s a big risk to take the points when you know JT could bust off some runs at anytime and the Badgers can get a stop on most possessions defensively. My score prediction is 49-10, so I am laying the points despite the big number.

Over/Under: Under 59

By my prediction, this game would be a push at 49-10. However, that’s relying on Kent State giving you ten points. So far we’ve seen UW dominate these lower tier teams, so I don’t think you can bank on Kent State giving you any points going in. They should score, but we said the same thing for Central Michigan and South Florida, and they didn’t.

Usually if you like a large spread like this, its easy to see an over, but I am hesitant to play that side when you’ve seen UW pitch two shutouts with relative ease. Additionally, I think you’ve got to see where this number gets to. With heavy money coming in on the over, I would wait until later in the week as you’ll probably get an even better number should you choose to follow this advice.

It’s always smart to fade the public, and right now the public is heavily backing the over. This line is a projected line of 50.5 with some handicappers I respect and follow, so you’re going to find much more value and points to work with on the under which is the more profitable side long term.