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Wisconsin football vs. Michigan betting preview

Will the Badgers cover as substantial road favorites at Ann Arbor?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Michigan at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Three weeks ago Wisconsin took to the field against Illinois and dominated the game en route to a 45-7 victory. It was great to get the season started, but things quickly took a negative turn. We all know what happened next, but now the Badgers will be back in what feels like their second season opener of 2020. In that contest they’ll head on the road for a primetime matchup with the Michigan Wolverines who are reeling and sitting at 1-2 on the season.

The line for this contest opened for the Badgers as a slight favorite at -1 but has steadily crept up over the week and currently sits with the Badgers as a 4.5 point favorite in this contest. The total for this game opened at 51 and has risen to 53.5 over the course of the week. We’ll dive into both of these numbers, but first, here are some notable trends for the contest.

  • Wisconsin is 17-8 ATS on the road under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 14-5 ATS as a road favorite under Paul Chryst
  • Michigan is 1-2 ATS as a home underdog under Jim Harbaugh
  • Michigan is 3-7 ATS as an underdog under Jim Harbaugh
Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-4.5)

Before getting into the analysis I will say I would wait to bet these until Saturday before kickoff as we have NO idea who is in or out and both lines could change dramatically. Ok moving on, for me trends aren’t the tell all, but there are important to note. The trends above say play Paul Chryst in these spots and fade Jim Harbaugh in these spots. Therefore, that is what I am going to do.

A 14-5 record as a road favorite is a pretty substantial number to look at for the Badgers and Chryst. One could argue that those numbers might be a bit skewed because the Big Ten West has not been as strong as other divisions in football, but the spread generally accounts for that and Paul Chryst teams have gone out and covered the number. That’s why I like them here again in this spot.

There are some additional factors to consider here as well. First, Wisconsin is still coming off of two weeks of COVID and who knows how much game prep they have really had. I believe Graham Mertz will be starting, but who else might be out due to COVID is still up in the air. It’s fair to assume the Badgers will have some guys out, but Michigan is dealing with some issues as well.

The Wolverines were without two starting lineman against the Hooisers last week, and in that game they also lost star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson to a fractured leg. Both teams will be without personnel, but right now I trust the depth and the spot for the Badgers a bit more.

Over/Under? Under 53

The total in this game is intriguing as I could see it going a lot of different ways. On one hand you look at the two offenses and the lack of prep quarterback Graham Mertz will likely have had and think it could be a struggle offensively. On the other side, the run game has been non-existent for Michigan and in turn they’ve had to throw it much more than they want to. That should work out well for the Badgers as their strength is in the secondary and up front on the defensive line with the likes of Keeanu Benton, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and Garrett Rand. I think that could spell trouble for the Michigan offense.

On the other side of that though, Michigan’s secondary has been torched each of the last two weeks. If Mertz comes out and looks ready to go and is able to pick apart the Michigan secondary the under bet is going to get sweaty very quickly. I trust the Wisconsin defense to hold their own, but Michigan’s has been a big wild card thus far. Add in the Mertz wild card as well, and I think I like the under better right now. Weather could also be a factor as 12-14 mph winds are expected.