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Wisconsin football: South Florida betting preview

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Can the Badgers cover the spread on the road?

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

My favorite sport, college football is back, which also means my favorite hobby, betting on college football, is back. Sports betting is taking off nationwide, and especially here in the midwest. Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois have all legalized sports betting and expect to be taking bets at local casino’s any day now.

Unfortunately for us Wisconsinites, it does not appear that sports betting is coming here anytime soon. Still, there are options should you want to take my advice on upcoming bets this season. Drive across the border, or get set up with an offshore account of your choosing. Hopefully by doing so you’ll rake in some extra coin to spend on Spotted Cow (at least we have that here!). New to sports betting? Check out my Sports Betting Crash Course here.

Each week I will write my thoughts on each bet in Wisconsin contests. In 2019, I won at a rate of 62.5% on my college football picks, so hopefully that will help you trust that I’m not a total fraud should you want to follow my advice. Ok, show’s starting....

Wisconsin (-13.5) will play at South Florida in Week 1 and it will be the first true road game for a Wisconsin opener since 2010, when the Badgers opened at UNLV (a 41-21 Wisconsin victory). The Badgers have played three neutral site openers since then, but have not played a true road game opener in almost a decade. That is an interesting tidbit when trying to handicap this game. Here are some other notable trends to look for in Week 1:

  • Wisconsin is 4-9 ATS (against the spread) in their last 13 games (2018)
  • Wisconsin is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 openers
  • Wisconsin is 1-4 ATS in their last five games as the favorite
  • Wisconsin was 1-4 ATS on the road in 2018
  • South Florida is 0-5 ATS in their last five games
  • South Florida was 2-6 ATS at home in 2018
  • The over hit 3-2 in Wisconsin’s road contests in 2018

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-13.5)

The spread for this game opened with Wisconsin as a 10.5 road favorite, but has seen a lot of one way action on the Badgers and moved to Wisconsin -13.5. The projected line for this game is actually Wisconsin -17.5, so despite the big movement you can still get four points of value with the Badgers. Wisconsin normally struggles to cover in the opener, but this is a different type of opener. Usually the Badgers are in Camp Randall against a lesser opponent and have a big spread to make up. This year the number is much smaller, and I think a great amount of value lies with Wisconsin.

On paper, some people see this as a trap game for the Badgers because of USF’s strong tradition as a program. However, the Bulls come into this game on a six game losing streak after starting last year 7-0. They played virtually nobody in the first half of their season, and had the brakes beaten off them in the latter half.

They were especially bad against the run, allowing an average of 247.5 yards per game on the ground. That ranked 122nd in the nation, a spot behind Illinois. The Badgers were No. 6 in rushing offense a year ago, averaging 273 yards per game. The only teams to rush for more were Memphis, and four triple option teams. Oh, and isn’t that Jonathan Taylor guy back for Wisconsin? Expect a heavy does of JT23.

To me, this is a glaring mismatch and the only smart play would be on Wisconsin.

Over/Under: Over 57

Over the course of South Florida’s losing streak the Bulls allowed an average of 39.33 points per game. Sure, 2019 brings a new approach and new season but with nine returning starters on defense the Bulls still have much of the same personnel. Unless this team got dramatically better, I would play the over.

A defense that allowed almost 40 points per game doesn’t scream under to me in any way shape or form. With the Bulls having a few good pieces on offense themselves, I could see this game being a 35-21 game, which puts you at 56. With the total being 57 right now, I would shop around for the best number you can get. With 97% of the money coming in on the over, this is probably only going up.