NCAAF Picks: Kent State at Wisconsin

by | Oct 2, 2019 | cfb

Kent State Golden Flashes (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 6
Date and Time:Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12pm ET
Where:Camp Randall Stadium
TV:ESPNU

Point Spread:KENT +36.5/WISC -36.5 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total:57

David v. Goliath match-ups are typically reserved for the opening weeks of the College Football season, but a few are sprinkled in each week, and one such game has Kent State headed to Madison this weekend to take on Wisconsin. The Golden Flashes have lost both of their games against Power-5 opponents in 2019, scoring just 23 total points against Arizona State and Auburn while the Badgers have outscored nonconference foes 110-0 this season. Wisconsin showed a little inefficiency last week against Northwestern but still enter this week as the 9th ranked team in the AP Poll. Bettors haven’t been too scared of the massive line as the Badgers have received 74% of individual bets in the early action.

QB Committee

Kent State headed into the MAC media day without a QB controversy, but the Flashes have used two signal-callers in each game so far. Dustin Crum has seen the most action, throwing for 697 yards and running for 140 more but Woody Barrett has seen regular work, throwing for three scores in addition to Crum’s five. Neither QB has thrown an interception this season, and both are alive with designed runs or in the scramble game. Wisconsin ranks 8th in passing yards allowed and notched two defensive scores last week. How these quarterbacks fare against the No.1 defense in the NCAA will have a lot to say about Kent State’s chances to get an ATS win.

Taylor Time

Wisconsin averages 231 yards per game on the ground, and they are about to square off against the worst run defense in the land. Kent State is allowing 261 rushing yards per game and they haven’t yet faced a back like what they will see Saturday. Jonathan Taylor is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and has eleven touchdowns in just over eleven full quarters of football. That run game production keeps Wisconsin in convertible third-down scenarios, and they have been successful 47% of the time. Kent State is allowing opponents a 45% conversion rate so look for the Badgers to stay on schedule better than they did against Northwestern. Taylor stands a good chance to push the 200 yards mark this game and that kind of production usually coincides with Wisconsin putting 30+ points on the board.

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Short on Skill

It is hard to punch up without some difference-makers on offense, and it could be that Kent State lacks the ability to stress this defense in one-on-one scenarios. Isaiah McKoy and Kavious Price share the team reception lead with 18 each, but the duo has just 150 receiving yards combined against Power-5 teams. McKoy has legit NFL size at 6’3,” but Price is just 5’6″ and no one has gotten anything going against the Wisconsin secondary. Jo-El Shaw leads the team with 278 rushing yards and two scores but will have to work against a run defense allowing 48 yards per game. Northwestern was able to tire Wisconsin’s defense out with a recovered onside kick keeping them on the field, but Kent State is averaging just over 26 minutes of possession, and the Badgers excel at getting off the field, limiting opponents to 15.5% on third-down conversions.

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Role Player Depth

The offensive production outside of Taylor isn’t exactly impressive for Wisconsin, but they have plenty of options. Quintez Cephus averages 17 yards per catch and takes care of the vertical game while guys like Jake Ferguson and A.J. Taylor work underneath. Ferguson, Taylor and Danny Davis have accounted for 33 receptions as a group and cover of the bases underneath. Jack Coan is still completing 74% of his passes and has mostly proven able to make the needed through despite throwing his first interception last week. There are no stars on the Wisconsin defense, but the role player theme continues there with UW ranked 1st in total yards allowed and 1st in points, surrendering just 7.2 per contest. Even without a standout pass-rusher, the Badgers have notched 12 sacks and limit opponents to 1.8 yards per rush.

Trend Watch

Kent State is no stranger to playing the big boys but are just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven against opponents with a winning record. The Golden Flashes did get the ATS win last week but are just 1-5 against the spread in the last six immediately following an ATS W. The Badgers are 6-1 ATS in the last seven against a MAC opponent but have struggled to a 2-9 ATS mark the week following a straight-up win. The under has won seven of the last ten Wisconsin games overall.

I was not on Wisconsin’s side when they were saddled with larger lines against South Florida and Central Michigan early in the season. There were enough questions on offense and especially on defense to think the Badgers would immediately produce in line with what they did in 2016-17 instead of what we saw in 2018. Wisconsin was not crisp last week on offense, but their defense was on-point until they were essentially playing out the final quarter with a three-score lead. I think Kent State is significantly overmatched when their defense is on the field and allowing Wisconsin to simply execute their gameplan is going to spell trouble for the Golden Flashes. Auburn hung 55 on Kent State, and I think UW comes close, and their defense dominates a lesser opponent as they have twice already. This handicap is a ton of points to swallow, but the game is still at Camp Randall, and this one should be a get-well effort after Wisconsin survived the battle with pesky Northwestern. The Badgers sneak out the ATS win with a 49-7 final.

Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Wisconsin

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