Michigan Wolverines vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Michigan Wolverines (5-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7-2 SU, 3-5 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 14 2009, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisc. TV: Big Ten Network
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Michigan +8.5/Wisconsin -8.5
Over/Under: 55

The Michigan Wolverines looked like they could have a promising season when they started off with a 4-0 record. But since then, they are 1-5 with their only win being over Delaware State. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is 7-2 with its only two losses coming to the top two teams in the Big Ten – Iowa and Ohio State.

Michigan is 0-3 on the road this season, including a blowout 38-13 loss two weeks ago at Illinois. Last week, the Wolverines lost at home to Purdue, 38-36. For Michigan, defense has been the problem. The Wolverines have allowed at least 26 points to every BCS team they have faced. The Wolverines are allowing 235 passing yards and 158.3 rushing yards per game.

Michigan’s defense is suspect, but its offense hasn’t been bad. The Wolverines rank 16th in the country with 208.3 rushing yards per game and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average. Running backs Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor have combined for 954 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier is a running threat as well. He has 104 carries for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He has been solid throwing the ball with 1,636 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Early in the season, he led the Wolverines to a couple of comeback victories over Notre Dame and Indiana with clutch touchdown passes late in games.

Wisconsin is a very good home team. The Badgers are 5-1 at home this season with their only loss being to Iowa. The Badgers led that game 10-0 but Iowa came back for a 20-10 victory. Their last home game was a 37-0 win over Purdue, the same Purdue team that won at Michigan last week. This game will be the last home game of the season for Wisconsin, so it could be an emotional game for the seniors.

Wisconsin running back John Clay has been very good this season. He has 973 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. The Badgers can throw the ball a little bit as well – quarterback Scott Tolzien has 1,717 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions – but the key to their offensive success is how well they can run the ball.

Against Purdue, most definitely Wisconsin’s most impressive performance of the season, Clay ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, the Badgers ran for 266 yards. Tolzien was only 6-for-13 for 87 yards, but the Wisconsin defense controlled the game. The Badgers held Purdue to 141 total yards of offense – 81 passing yards and 60 rushing yards. The Badgers also forced three turnovers and had just one of their own.

Clay is one of the better running backs in the Big Ten, and Michigan does not have a good run defense, so there’s a good chance Clay will run all over them. Wisconsin has one of the better run defenses in the country, allowing 102.8 rushing yards per game and a 3.1 yards-per-carry average. The Wolverines don’t have much of a chance if they can’t run the ball effectively. Forcier can’t win a game on his own. If Wisconsin plays like it has the past two weeks and Michigan plays like it has the past two weeks, this game won’t be close at all.

Michigan is 2-6 ATS and 1-7 SU in its last eight road games. The total has gone over in eight of Michigan’s last 11 road games. Wisconsin is 8-1 SU in its last nine home games. The Badgers are 2-8 SU in their last 10 games against Michigan, but 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games against the Wolverines. Michigan defeated Wisconsin in Ann Arbor last season, 27-25.

Ryno’s Pick: These teams have been going in opposite directions lately. There is nothing that points to Michigan pulling off this win on the road. The Wolverines have been very bad on the road this season and the Badgers have been very good at home. Clay will run all over the Michigan defense and the Wisconsin defense will shut down the Michigan running game. If Illinois was able to win by 25 points over Michigan, imagine what a much better Wisconsin team can do against the Wolverines. Take Wisconsin -8.5.