Last week, the Badgers picked themselves up off the mat in dominating fashion as they beat the Northwestern Wildcats 42-7. Both sides of the ball were impressive in the contest but the star of the game was quarterback Graham Mertz who set a career-high in passing yards (299) and tied a career-high in passing touchdowns (5).
This week, the Badgers are once again on the road where they will take on the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans come into this game struggling mightily losing their last four contests.
The spread for this contest opened in favor of the Badgers -7 but currently sits at a 7.5 point mark at DraftKings Sportsbook. The total for this game sits at 49.5. Let’s dive into both of those numbers.
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-7.5)
Obviously, I would have loved this much more at 7 so maybe wait and see if that comes back at some point although I doubt it will. Overall, I was very low on Michigan State coming into this season so their record doesn’t surprise me all that much. The reason for that doubt was the defense, specifically against the pass.
Last year, Michigan State ranked 130 out of 130 when it came to defending the pass. Every team they played was able to light things up through the air and that has once again been the case this year. The Spartans currently rank 122nd in passing yards allowed per game. For reference, Northwestern ranks 68th in that same category. This defense is THAT BAD.
Say what you want about the Wisconsin offense, it hasn’t been pretty at times, but numbers suggest this offense is not as bad as you might suspect. In terms of points per opportunity, the Badgers rank 2nd in the nation and they rank 47th in offensive success rate. Add in the fact that Wisconsin has faced three top thirty defenses when it comes to defensive success rate (Illinois #2, Ohio State #3, and Washington State #28), and things might not be as bad as it has appeared.
Graham Mertz is coming off what I think was his best career game, and I think the offense should have plenty of opportunities to keep that train rolling here. If there are two defenses to go against and get things right it's Northwestern and Michigan State. Things lined up perfectly here so I will lay the points with Wisconsin.
Over/Under? Over 49.5
If you think Mertz and company will be able to torch this Spartan secondary as I do there isn’t a ton of arguments you can make for the under unless you don’t think Michigan State scores much on their own. I don't think that will be the case.
Yes, the Badger's defense did only surrender seven points a week ago but Northwestern did still move the football. In the contest, Northwestern averaged 5 yards per play so they moved down the field consistently but they couldn’t seem to hang onto it to finish those drives and convert points.
Additionally, Michigan State runs with some tempo which sometimes gives the Badgers some issues. The Spartans rank top 30 in seconds per play so the pace with which they move is pretty quick. If Michigan State can move the football and hang onto it to convert to points I think they score enough to help the over here. I don't see them putting up huge points, but I project this game more like 57.5 so I think there is some value here in this spot.