Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick 8/7/19
Central Michigan Chippewas (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 2
Date and Time:Saturday, Sep. 7 at 3:30pm ET
Where:Camp Randall Stadium
Point Spread:CMU +35/UW -35 (WagerWeb)
With just a few marquee match-ups on the Week 2 slate, we are left to sort through some games with huge point spreads. Once such contest has the Chippewas of Central Michigan in Madison to take on the 17th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. This meeting will be the first time the schools face off on the field, but they are linked by J.J. Watt who started his collegiate career at as a CMU tight end before transferring to Wisconsin. The Chippewas are off to a 1-0 start under new coach Jim McElwain, but there are taking a significant step up in competition this week in a very unfriendly environment. Wisconsin was impressive in blanking South Florida last week and have a Heisman candidate in Jonathan Taylor but do they have enough to erase a 35-point line?
CMU is one of lesser FBS teams, ranking 127th on the Sagarin list while Wisconsin sits 9th. The best chance for success is if 5th year senior QB Quinten Dormady can come close to the 285 yards, 3 TD effort he put in last week. Dormady originally went to Tennessee and saw a decent amount of action in 2017 before seeking a transfer. WR Kalil Pimpleton, originally a Virginia Tech recruit, led CMU with eight catches last week and joins freshman receiver Tyrone Scott (2 TD last week) to give the passing game some pop. Jonathan Ward leads the backfield and scored twice in Week 1. Ward is a solid runner but is also alive in the passing game, gaining 1,400 total yards in 2017 before disappointing last year. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry last week and will need another big game if CMU wants to hang with the Badgers.
I think we all knew Wisconsin was going to be fine offensively with their signature run game, but Jim Leonhard’s defense looks reminiscent of the units that were near the top of the NCAA two and three years ago. The Badgers blanked USF in their building last week, holding the Bulls to 157 total yards and nine first downs. USF converted just 3-of-16 on third down and averaged a paltry 1.1 yards per rush. CMU has some playmakers, but they struggled on the offensive line last year, and those questions remain after Albany pressured Dormady into two fumbles. Wisconsin is going to bring a better brand of pass-rush on Saturday and test the Chippewa offensive line. If CMU fails upfront, getting points on the board could be tough. Wisconsin will be without S Scott Nelson and could also miss senior LB Chris Orr. Both are key players on defense, and CMU wouldn’t mind if Orr sat this one out.
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The Wisconsin passing game had plenty of questions to answer as they entered the season and many were answered, at least in part. Jack Coan settled into a nice rhythm and completed 73% of his 26 passes. The better news was that he found nine different receivers, including newly reinstated Quintez Cephus, and that kind of pass game diversity will make Wisconsin a tough team to defend. Jonathan Taylor caught two passes, taking both to the house for his first two career receiving touchdowns and his Heisman chances get a boost if he becomes relevant in the receiving game. Nakia Watson rushed for 80 yards and a score to further bolster the run game, and Wisconsin has the look of a top-flight offense. A 35-point spread leaves little room for error, but Wisconsin should be able to push past 40 points if they execute like they did last week. Helping their chances is the fact that CMU failed to log a single sack against and FCS opponent in their opener.
The Chippewas have some nice trends heading into the week, led by their 8-3 mark against the spread in the last eleven on the road. CMU is 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games and have plenty of experience against the Big Ten, going 9-4 ATS in the last thirteen against those opponents. Wisconsin is 5-1 against the spread in their last six against MAC schools, but they have lost seven of their last nine ATS at Camp Randall.
I was nervous about laying thirteen and taking Wisconsin against South Florida last week and eventually took the Bulls and the L. While the Badgers looked fantastic in most phases in that game, 35 points is a scary line as any odd bounce, or untimely penalty could swing the game. South Florida shot themselves in the foot with early dropped passes against Wisconsin, and while I don’t think making those plays would have changed the ultimate result, USF should have been able to put some points up. I think CMU has enough talent at the skill positions to move the ball and get ten on the board. Taylor is going to get his and Coan should have another efficient passing day, but I think Wisconsin stops at 42 this week, giving the Chippewas a narrow cover. Guys if you are still
Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Central Michigan +35 (-102 at 5Dimes)
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