It’s been a long bye week for Wisconsin football but the Badgers are back in action this Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Last time out, the Badgers just barely covered the spread against Eastern Michigan and the stout defensive effort kept the total under without breaking a sweat. That result puts the betting column at 3-1 on the young season.
This week, Wisconsin enters its contest against Notre Dame as a 5.5 point favorite over the Irish. This line previously opened at -3.5 in favor of the Badgers and has moved significantly since then. The total for this game opened at 46.5 and has held around that spot throughout the week. We’ll break down both of those numbers, but first, some notable trends.
- Notre Dame is 22-13 ATS as an underdog in the Brian Kelly era
- Notre Dame is 14-11 ATS in neutral-site contests under the Brian Kelly era
- Notre Dame is 16-13 ATS in a game with a rest disadvantage in the Brian Kelly era
- Wisconsin is 32-30-1 ATS as a favorite in the Paul Chryst era
- Wisconsin is 5-5 ATS in neutral-site contests under Paul Chryst
- Wisconsin is 10-16 ATS against ranked opponents under Paul Chryst
ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-5.5)
The spread may surprise some people, but my personal power rating numbers actually make the Badgers a full touchdown favorite in this spot. I have bet against the Badgers in each of the first two games, but I have also been on the fade Notre Dame Train all season long too. The Irish are just 1-2 ATS so far this season, and I think there are a few different numbers that make me like the value Wisconsin has here.
Firstly, I think there is a glaring matchup struggle with Notre Dame’s offensive line going against this formidable Wisconsin front seven. Notre Dame is currently No. 122 in the nation in terms of sacks allowed, and they have not faced a front anywhere as close to talented as this Badgers unit.
Toledo, Purdue, and Florida State have all been able to get home against the Irish but have struggled against other opponents. Purdue didn’t take down UConn for a single sack the week before playing Notre Dame. I think this front will look to shut down Kryen Williams and the Notre Dame run game and make Jack Coan beat them.
Which leads me to my next point...Jack Coan.
If there are a couple of guys that know Jack Coan’s tendencies better than most it’s Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. Leonhard, and many of the Badgers defensive starters, went against him in practice for years. I think that coupled with an extra week to prep should allow Wisconsin to have an advantage here. Everyone talks about the “Jack Coan Revenge Game” but the familiarity will certainly play both ways. I think Wisconsin’s defense comes out in a big way Saturday and helps cover the spread.
Over/Under? Under 46.5
I think you can look at it this way. If Wisconsin wins, this likely goes under. If Notre Dame wins, this probably goes over. Based on what we’ve seen from the Badgers this season they are very much going with the ball-control style of play. They lead the nation in time of possession, keeping the ball 41 minutes per game. That is a full minute more than Army, a triple-option team.
If they are going that route, I think points will be at a premium in a classic slug it out in trenches type of game. Until I am proven otherwise, I think you’ve got to take under with this ground-heavy attack and trust this Wisconsin defense is as good as it has looked throughout the beginning of the season.