Penn State and Wisconsin are very similar in a lot of way. Two teams that are always good, but never among the best in the country. They compete for a potential B1G title, but never win it. Yet, despite the similarities, Wisconsin is always thought of as better in recent years.
Some of that has to do with recruiting. With Penn State's incoming class 21st in the country. Meanwhile, Wisconsin sits at 16th in the country. Not demonstrably better, but enough to see the difference.
Will that matter come Saturday though?
For a matchup between two of the better teams in the Big 10, oddsmakers don't see this game as that close. Sure, it's closer than most Week 1 matchups, but it's still not really close.
Wisconsin is a 5.5 point favorite. They're also given -213 odds, or an implied 68.1% chance to win the game. Meanwhile, Penn state is given +198, or an implied 33.6% chance to pull off the upset.
Penn State and Wisconsin have met 19 times in their history. Penn State has won 10 and Wisconsin has won 9.
Wisconsin used to dominated this series. They won 8 of the first 12 matchups between these teams. That includes the first 3 these teams ever played.
Obviously, that means Penn Stat has dominated the recent matchups, they've won 6 of the last 7. So, the ebbs and flows between these teams are clear. One team is going to figure out how to dominate the series for a stretch. Perhaps Wisconsin's next stretch starts on Saturday.
Wisconsin wants to compete with Ohio State for a Big 10 title. They want to compete for a playoff spot and a potential National Title. That starts Week 1 when they have a game against a ranked opponent in conference.
If they're going to compete at they level they believe capable, this is one they need to win.