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Wisconsin Football vs. Illinois Betting Preview

Can the Badgers cover as touchdown favorites against the Illini?

Wisconsin v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Last week, Wisconsin opened its Big Ten season anddddd it didn’t go so well. The Badgers did not cover, and it wasn’t really a game that was close for more than six minutes. Ohio State did whatever they wanted and nearly hit the over by themselves. All in all, despite the sad output the Buckeyes did cover as did the over which put the column at 2-0 on the week. Hopefully, the misery of the game was made up for in your winnings.

This week, Wisconsin plays host to the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Badgers opened as a 9-point favorite in this contest but the number has been bet down over the course of the week now sitting at just a touchdown in favor of Wisconsin. The total for the contest has bounced around but currently sits at 43.5. Let’s dive into both of those numbers.

(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 Wisconsin at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ATS Pick: Wisconsin -7

Often times in betting it's important to not overreact to what happened in previous weeks. Coming into this contest I think there are a lot of people that see what these two teams have done and think the line is too high. In some sense, I can agree with that. I mean, my numbers make this right at 7.5 so at 9 Illinois would have been the bet, but here at 7, it is pretty much dead on.

That said, one thing that has really stood out about Illinois is its defense. Thus far they have been really solid, and they’ve been particularly good against the run ranking 19th in the country in rushing yards allowed. They’ve also ranked toward the top in havoc which measures tackles for loss, turnovers, and sacks. That said, I am not sure Illinois has faced a run-friendly attack like Wisconsin’s yet.

So far this season Illinois has taken on Wyoming, Indiana, Virginia, and Chatanooga. Of those teams, neither Indiana nor Virginia run the ball all that much. Indiana runs the ball just 37% of the time (one of the least in the country) while Virginia runs the ball just 46% of the time. Wisconsin, on the other hand, runs it 64% of the time. This will be a much bigger test and if Wisconsin can wear Illinois down on that front I think they can cover late, but I dont love this number much either way. I show little value compared to my numbers at the current spot of seven.

Over/Under? Under 43.5

A couple of things out from Illinois. They run the ball extremely well with Chase Brown and he’s been one of the top backs in the country thus far. The other thing I have seen is an offensive line that looks susceptible to pressure and sacks allowed.

To me, those are two things that Wisconsin and Jim Leonhard can prepare for. Yes, the Badger's defense looked very poor a week ago but this is not Ohio State, it’s Illinois. I expect this one to be close but I can see Wisconsin handling things on the defensive side enough, and with the ground heavy attack likely coming from both sides I think the under is very much in play here. I think this game could be sorta ugly which makes me lean toward the under in this spot. 24-14 feels like a good range for me.