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Wisconsin football vs. Northwestern betting preview

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Can the Badgers cover as massive favorites over the Wildcats?

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Last week the Badgers came out in dominating fashion against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, winning 52-3. Wisconsin covered the spread with ease and hit the over by themselves in what was their most complete game of the season. We rolled with the Badgers laying the points but took the under, so it was a 1-1 week.

This week, Wisconsin returns home to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. The spread for this contest opened with the Badgers laying 23.5 points but now sits at 24 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The total for this game opened at 40.5 but currently sits at 41.5. We’ll dive into both of those numbers, but first, some notable trends.

  • Wisconsin is 17-23-1 ATS as a home favorite under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 30-28-1 ATS in conference games under Paul Chryst
  • Northwestern is 48-34-1 ATS in away games under Pat Fitzgerald
  • Northwestern is 35-21 ATS as a road underdog under Pat Fitzgerald
  • The average margin of victory in meetings between Chryst/Fitzgerald is nine points

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-24)

I think there are two ways you can look at this contest as a sports bettor. Some people trust trends, some people trust numbers and I think whichever way you tend to lean probably makes your pick for you here.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Wisconsin at Northwestern Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you’re a trend bettor you’ll likely look to the bullet points above and see a pretty clear picture. Paul Chryst struggles in these spots historically and Pat Fitzgerald is one of the best underdog coaches to back across all of college football. His teams traditionally thrive in these spots, and the Wildcats have had a ton of success against Wisconsin in recent years.

In every meeting between Fitzgerald and Chryst the average margin of victory is just nine points, even with teams that we’re pretty bad like this Northwestern one. Fitzgerald has also had Chryst’s number, as he’s the only coach in the West that Chryst has a .500 record against. Based on tradition, this number screams Northwestern.

However, this team is not your traditional Pat Fitgerald team. If you’re a numbers bettor you’ll see that Northwestern ranks No. 125 in rushing defense. They’re worse than UCONN in that category. That is a huge advantage for Wisconsin as their run game is clicking and they’ll be going up against the weakest run defense they’ve seen all season long (Northwestern is 30 spots worse than Eastern Michigan).

On the other side, Northwestern has struggled offensively and they’ll be going up against the nation's top defense. With a dominating run game unlikely to be slowed and a defense that might not let up a point, it’s hard for me to feel confident in playing Northwestern here. I’m more of a numbers guy, so I’ll lay the points here but I can’t fault you for leaning with the trends either. Play your game.

Over/Under? Over 40.5

As a numbers guy, I cannot take an under here. In a game featuring one of the worst run defenses in the country against a team that loves to run the ball it just doesn’t make rational sense to do. I mean look at these rushing yard numbers. 294 to Michigan, 308 to Minnesota, 427 (!!) to Nebraska. Even Iowa’s lowly offense ran for 185 against the Cats.

Truly, I think the Badgers score 40 themselves here. When you add in the offensive ability with the defensive creating turnovers it’s a very real possibility.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Wisconsin at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Northwestern ranks No. 97 in turnover margin (-3) so it’s very fair to think that the Badgers could create some turnovers and put themselves in advantageous spots, or score themselves. Just last week Caeasar Williams had a pick-six that seemed to put the game on ice and Wisconsin never looked back.

That is very much in play here again, so I think this over is the better option. If Wisconsin does what they’ve done the last five weeks this game should have a similar result to what we saw last week against the Scarlet Knights.