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Wisconsin Football vs. Washington State Betting Preview

The Badgers enter this contest as sizeable favorites. Can they cover?

Illinois State v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Wisconsin football opened their 2022 season with a dominating victory over the Illinois State Redbirds 38-0. That score led to the Badgers covering the 35-36.5 point spread, but the Badgers stifling defense kept this total under the number of 39. Last week, I picked the Badgers to cover and the over to hit, which means we’re off to a 1-1 start.

This week, Wisconsin opened as a 17-point favorite against Washington State, and now sits at 17.5 according to DraftKings. The total for this contest opened at 46.5 and has bounced between there and 45.5 for most of the week. Currently, the total sits at 46.5 at the time of writing.

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

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Washington State Spring Game Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ATS Pick: Washington State (+17.5)

Last week Wisconsin got its feet under them but it was hardly a perfect game for the Badgers, especially defensively. Yes, they pitched a shutout but things weren’t all that pretty in the pass defense as Wisconsin looked like it was struggling to mesh with their new personnel. This week, they’ll face a much more dynamic quarterback in Washington State’s Cam Ward.

Ward previously played at FCS Incarnate Word where he was a Walter Peyton Finalist a season ago. Ward threw for nearly 4,000 yards a season ago to go along with 38 touchdowns. As a result, Ward was named the top Freshman in FCS football.

Ward’s success did come at the FCS level, but I do think he has the tools to make things work at the FBS level as well. Last week, Ward threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns in their season-opening win over Idaho. The Cougars threw the ball 40 times in the contest, so it is clear what they aim to do. Toss it around.

On the flip side, Wisconsin’s cornerback room was best described as shakey. The group had a lot of missed assignments and poor coverage in the opener. I do think they’ll be better as the season moves along and they get more time to mesh, but I do believe the Cougars will be able to hit on some plays through the air on Saturday if Wisconsin doesn’t clean things up in that area. Lastly, Wisconsin will be without safety Hunter Wohler so the safety room is not at full strength.

With that in mind, I think this spread is a bit too big. I think the Cougars will be able to hit some plays and score some points to keep it within this three-score range. I make this spread a 16.5 in favor of Wisconsin, so it's a little too big for me to lay with the Badgers. However, it's not something I am rushing to bet on either. If anything, I’d feel out this game and maybe hop on something live after the first drives play out.

Over/Under: Over 46.5

In addition to success from Cam Ward, Washington State also had a strong game with their defensive front recording seven sacks in their opener. Wisconsin, however, has a way to combat each of these with their ground game. Long sustained drives should allow the Badgers to wear down the Cougar front, and keep Ward off the field.

However, I do think the Badgers could pop some long runs to where 46.5 is in play. On the other side, Wisconsin’s pass defensive struggles will likely allow Washington State to score some points and hit on some plays. I don’t anticipate a ton, but enough to make this over possible.

Lastly, the thing I worry about with low totals in these games is turnovers. Wisconsin had struggles with that area last year, and Washington State led the PAC-12 in turnover margin a season ago. Head Coach Jake Dickert plays an aggressive style of defense which could force some short fields if the Badgers aren't careful with the football.

Additionally, Washington State had some turnover issues in their opener, putting the ball on the turf three separate times. If Wisconsin’s front seven can get to Ward, who is mobile but not a major runner, it could create some fumbles in this contest.

Overall, I see this as a 34-17 game. Washington State should do some things to keep within the spread, but mistakes and a worn-down defense could really allow Wisconsin to put up some points so I like the over here more so than the spread.

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