Wisconsin Badgers (8-2 SU, 8-2 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (3-7 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 19 at 12pm ET
Where: Ross Ade Stadium
by Evergreen, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UW -27.5/PUR +27.5
Over/Under Total: 49.5
It is a time of mixed motivations for many NCAA football teams. Some schools are finishing off the final weeks of a successful season while others are busy playing the youngsters and eyeing next year already. The Wisconsin Badgers head to Purdue this weekend to take on the Boilermakers with the teams occupying opposite sides of the Big Ten coin. Wisconsin is poised to make a run to Indy for the conference championship and perhaps a playoff berth while Purdue is simply looking to put a complete game together and end a five game losing streak. The Boilers have been tossed around a bit during conference play so it is time to play for pride and relish in the role of spoiling someone elseís solid finish. The Badgers have proven themselves to be a top-10 team but they need to take care of their business if they want the chance to be named a final four participant.
Wisconsin is no surprise as the massive favorite here with the online betting sites giving Purdue 27.5 points. The Boilermakers are winless in the last ten meetings between these schools and 1-9 against the spread over that stretch. The Badgers have run their road ATS record to 5-0 this season and are 7-1 ATS in the last eight conference games. This pairing is one of the most lopsided according to the computers with Wisconsin entering as the 8th rated Sagarin team and Purdue all the way back at 118th. The Sagarin offense-defense method is calling for a 46-10 Badger win.
It is a little surprising to see any method predicting a big offensive output for Wisconsin as the Badgers have struggled to find consistent offense throughout the year and average just 26.2 points per game. They are coming off a 48-3 thrashing of Illinois last week where the run game got going to the tune of 363 yards but the passing game is still firmly ranked outside the top-100 in the country. Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston will both see time on the field as they have for the last month or so. The duo has thrown for just over 1,800 yards with 11 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and the Badgers are not likely to suddenly figure out how to throw the ball efficiently. That isnít really news for fans in Madison but the run game coupled with an elite defense has been enough to get the Badgers in prime position.
Purdue, on the other hand, is a capable passing offense. David Blough has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this season and the Boiler passing game enters the week ranked 19th in the nation. Blough has 21 touchdown passes and four more on the ground but he has turned the ball over quite a bit with 16 interceptions. The run game has been virtually nonexistent, further putting the pressure on the passing game and the net is just 25.1 points per game. Purdue may be without leading rusher Markell Jones and back-up Richie Worship as well. There probably wasnít a focus put on trying to establish the run against the 5th ranked rush defense of the Badgers anyway, but losing bodies in the backfield could make the Boilers dangerously one dimensional. Blough has been very good at finding ways to spread the ball around as six different receivers have at least 29 catches and four have at least three scores. That versatility is tough to scheme against but the Badgers have been able to limit opponents to 12.7 points per game so the sledding will be tough no doubt.
The big knock on Purdue is the defense. The D has struggled against Big Ten foes especially, allowing 45 points or more in losses to Penn State, Iowa and Northwestern. Those are good teams but not particularly explosive on offense so the high point totals are more Purdue giving it up rather than the opponent earning it all day. The Boilers allow 38.4 points per game, good for 119th in the country and one of the worst totals for any power five school. They allow nearly 250 rushing yards per game and that is not a good total considering their opponent is looking more and more effective on the ground. Expect a steady diet of Corey Clement to start and the Badgers are not afraid to go three deep on the backfield depth chart to keep fresh legs running the rock. Purdue simply cannot put up a fight if they do not do better than their current 5.7 yards per carry allowed.
If it looks like bad news for the Purdue defense, consider the task the offense faces. Wisconsin is allowing just 292 total yards per game and holds their opponents to a 27% third down conversion rate. Despite moving the ball well at times, the Boilers arenít the model of efficiency and could see a lot of third-and-long scenarios. That is not a good way to go about things against the Badgers and their pass rush. Wisconsin picked off four passes against Illinois and generally bothered the Illini into poor decisions all day. Blough is significantly better than any Illinois QB but he will need to stay out of those long down and distance situations to avoid seeing the kind of pressure that leads to bad throws and turnovers.
It has been a little amazing to see Wisconsin win games this season as such a one-dimensional team. Give tremendous credit to that defense that has played though injuries and without the support of a productive offense. Wisconsin will come into this game as the healthiest it has been in weeks there are some signs of life on offense even if the QB play is pedestrian at best. The inability of Purdue to stop the run really spells doom for them here as Wisconsin is just going to pound them like they did to Illinois. If the Boilermakers gamble to stop the run, there is enough of a play-action game to burn an eight-man defensive front and Wisconsin can use an athlete like Jazz Peavy to win one-on-one matchups. This is a big number and a nervous one for an offense that has really only played well on one occasion since the non-conference cupcakes but I think Wisconsin gets another blowout win. The Badger strengths hit the Purdue weaknesses right on the nose and no one has looked good against this defense. Wisconsin keeps it clean on in the turnover and penalty categories so they make you earn every bit. A back-door cover is certainly a possibility but I think Wisconsin grabs a 42-10 win.
Evergreenís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wisconsin
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