The Wisconsin Badgers open their season Saturday night against the Illinois State Redbirds. Illinois State will be the first FCS opponent to travel to Madison since Western Illinois did back in 2014. Wisconsin, in recent years, has generally scheduled FBS teams but will be dipping down a division to start 2022.
For those of you looking to bet on this contest, you’ve probably been checking to see what the line will be regularly for the last week or so. Unfortunately, FCS vs. FBS lines are usually released very close to kickoff, usually 24 hours before, so we may not have an actual line on this contest until late Friday evening.
Fear not, I can try and help this situation, as I have some projected numbers to try and give a preview of what you might look to do when these numbers are released. Be sure to keep an eye on DraftKings for the latest odds on this contest!
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
ATS Projection/Pick: -35 or better
While most sportsbooks don’t have a line for this contest, I have seen a -33 from one sportsbook. I project this number right at 35, which is a key number as a multiple of seven. If you can find something below -35 I think that shows a slight edge for the Badgers here.
Overall, it’s a hard game to project, but looking at Illinois State’s 2021 season they had an incredibly difficult time getting off the field defensively. Opponents were able to convert on third down nearly 46% of the time. Offensively, Illinois State converted just 27% of the time on third down which creates a recipe for disaster and a 4-7 overall record.
Based on that, I think Illinois State’s defense could be on the field for a long time, and they could be very worn down from Wisconsin’s physicality. That should allow Wisconsin to bust some big runs and put up points to cover this number. Additionally, with the Badgers breaking in a new offense I do see them trying to play their guys a little longer than we might think should this game get to be blown open. Five touchdowns is a lot, but if you can get anything under that number I do think it is worth a play.
Over/Under: Over 39
Based on the spread, the total for this game looks like a simple game of “Can Illinois State score a touchdown”. I do think Wisconsin’s defense will be pretty stout in this contest, but they are breaking in quite a few new faces. I think a touchdown is feasible for the Redbirds here. Additionally, I think Wisconsin’s offense could cover this number themselves if things get rolling quickly. However, I don’t really know if I trust this number to not be higher so I would avoid it until we see some concrete lines. I much prefer the spread in this spot, but I do think Wisconsin could hang 40 themselves if the offense gets rolling.