Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday, October 15 at 8pm ET
Where: Camp Randall
by Evergreen, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OSU -10.5/UW +10
Over/Under Total: 45.5
All of a sudden, the Big Ten is the premier conference in all of college football again with four teams ranked in the AP Top-10 and two of those teams square off this weekend. The 2nd ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State travel to Madison to take on the 9th ranked Wisconsin Badgers in B1G tilt that will send ripples through the conference regardless of who wins. ESPNs College Gameday will set up shop outside of Camp Randall and that alone lets you know how important this matchup is. Throw in the atmosphere that comes with night games in Madison and this one should be must-see TV.
Ohio State has rolled through their schedule so far and the online betting sites like the Buckeyes as 10.5 point favorites this weekend. OSU enters the week 6-1 against the spread in their last seven overall but that is a big number to lay against a Wisconsin squad that is riding a four game ATS win streak against teams with a winning record. The Badgers are also 6-1 ATS in their last seven overall and have won 14 of the last 17 ATS in the week following their bye.
The UW/OSU rivalry has been interesting over the last few years with each team earning signature wins. Wisconsin would like to forget the 2014 Big Ten Championship game that saw Ohio State roll to a 59-0 win but this weekend also brings back memories of 2010 when the top-ranked Buckeyes came into Madison and left on the wrong side of a 31-18 decision. The last time the schools met when they both were ranked was 2013 and OSU got the better of that one with a 31-24 win in Columbus. This one should shape up to be a battle of Ohio States offense versus the stout defense of Wisconsin. If the Buckeyes can get points on the board, it could be a long night for Bucky as the Badger offense is searching for consistent production. The tape study and any new installs by Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin coaching staff over the bye could be the key to how successful the Badgers move the ball.
Ohio State enters with an unblemished record but had its toughest match last week. They got a 38-17 win over Indiana but werent comfortably up in that game until late and there were struggles in the passing game. J.T. Barrett completed just 9-of-21 passes against the Hoosiers so his 137 rushing yards were almost necessary as part of the OSU offensive gameplan. The Buckeyes converted only 5-of-14 third downs and gained just 383 total yards after entering the week averaging 537 per game, good for 6th in the country. OSU faces a Wisconsin defense that is banged up but still effective, allowing just 291 total yards and 12.2 points per game. Vince Biegel and Natrell Jamerson are out for the game with CB Derrick Tindal listed as questionable. Wisconsin has been able to absorb the injuries and remain solid but they are taking on the best offense they have faced this season.
The big issue for Wisconsin will be offensive production. Alex Hornibrook completed only 9-of-25 passes and was picked off three times in the 14-7 loss to Michigan that preceded the bye and that kind of effort simply wont get it done. Wisconsin has fallen to 106th in total yards and the running game is looking pretty average with offensive line injuries limiting the big ground gains. It appears that Hornibrook is a confident player and will look to rebound at home but it should be pointed out that Bart Houston could be called upon if the QB play is spotty again. The Badgers entered the year with modest expectations but now have high-end potential after wins against LSU and Michigan State. I doubt those early wins are going to be thrown away in favor of sticking with a young quarterback that is scuffling against top-tier competition. Ohio State represents a top-10 defense across the board so Wisconsin will need an uptick in efficiency to stay relevant this weekend.
Ohio State is expert-level when it comes to running the ball. The Buckeyes are 3rd in the nation at 323 yards per game behind two solid running backs and the rushing ability of Barrett. Mike Weber leads the team with 566 rushing yards and averages 6.8 yards per carry with Curtis Samuel leading the teams with six touchdowns overall, three each rushing and receiving. Wisconsin is allowing 90 yards to opposing rush offenses, good for 6th in the NCAA so there is no doubt that this game is a strength on strength match. Whichever team can impose their will in the trenches will be on the better side of things. This game could be close so one interesting thing to watch for is how Wisconsin handles the kicking game. Rafael Gaglianone is out for the season with a back injury, leaving Andrew Endicott to handle the placekicking duties. Endicott hit his only field goal try of the season but has missed an extra point. The Badgers may wind up going for fourth down conversions on the plus side of the field with the kicking game still a big unknown.
Wisconsin has done well in recent years with extra prep time and routinely plays up to competition. Camp Randall is going to be on fire and this will be the first time that these particular Buckeyes have experienced what a well-lubricated crowd sounds like in Madison so I will give the edge to Bucky when we are talking about the intangibles. I think OSU is too strong in all phases and UW is too beat up to call for an outright upset but I have no issues taking the Badgers and the double digits. There are 11-point lines floating around depending on where you look as well. The Badgers will run enough and an improved night passing will get them to 20 points. That might be enough to win if they shut down Barrett and turn the Buckeyes over more than twice but it is too much OSU overall as the final winds up 26-20 in favor of Ohio State.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wisconsin
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