Purdue Boilermakers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Week 8 Best Bet
Purdue Boilermakers (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) v. Wisconsin Badgers (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
NCAA Week 8
When: Saturday, October 22 at 3:30pm ET
Where: Camp Randall Stadium – Madison, WI
Point Spread: PUR +2.5/WIS -2.5 (Bovada is the best sportsbook for you if you like to bet underdogs! They oftentimes offer better lines than everybody else!)
Chaotic and unpredictable. Those two words can describe the 2022 Big Ten season so far. Several teams have been surprisingly good, while others have been surprisingly bad, and one team from each category will face off this Saturday as Purdue heads to Madison to take on Wisconsin. The Boilers sit in a tie for first in the Big West and control their own destiny as it relates to a possible trip to Indy for the title game. Wisconsin has been able to beat up on lesser opponents but hasn’t been good against like competition, and their streak of 20 consecutive bowl appearances could come to an end if interim coach Jim Leonhard cannot right the ship. This game does feature a nice playmaker duel, with Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game while Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen sits third in rushing yards.
Purdue has been good away from home of late, going 5-2 against the spread in their last seven road games, and they are 4-1 ATS when playing a team with a losing record. Wisconsin is just 3-7 ATS in their last ten games overall and has a five-game ATS losing streak when playing a team with a winning record. The Over is 7-2 in the last nine overall for Purdue, including a 4-1 record when playing a conference opponent. The Over has hit in each of the last five Wisconsin games overall. Wisconsin has won ten straight in this series, going 7-3 against the spread over that stretch, although the last four has seen the teams go 2-2 ATS. Nearly 70% of the public bets have been on the Boilers so far, with 60% of wagers coming in on the Over.
This could be one of the most complete Purdue teams in recent history, with the offense entering the week ranked 37th in yards gained and the defense at 38th in yards allowed. Those aren’t elite numbers, but they show that each side of the ball is capable of carrying the team when necessary. The offense did the heavy lifting in a 43-37 win against Nebraska last week, but the defense held Minnesota to ten points in a Week 5 win. Aidan O’Connell leads the 17th-best passing attack in the nation and is averaging 323 yards per game with 14 touchdowns. Charlie Jones is his favorite target, and Jones leads the Big Ten with 62 receptions and nine receiving scores. Jones is listed as questionable with an undisclosed ailment, but there are no current signs that he will miss Saturday’s contest. The Boiler run game features a grind-it-out style, with Devin Mockabee leading the way at 453 yards and five touchdowns. Dylan Downing and King Doerue have combined for seven rushing scores as situational backs, and all three Purdue RBs are useful as pass catchers. The passing defense has been known to give up some yards, but they rank third in the conference with ten interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes. The run defense is giving up just 100 yards per game, good for 16th in the country, and that is even more impressive considering the Boilers do not have a single player inside the conference top-25 in tackles.
Nightmare on State Street
The once rock-solid Wisconsin program is teetering on the edge of the abyss. The 3-4 record is bad enough for a team that had high expectations, but how they got here is the more troubling part. Penalties and turnovers have doomed the Badgers in close games, and a general regression of a previously top-tier defense has brought Wisconsin back to the pack. Coach Leonhard has had to speak about culture as multiple Badgers have entered the transfer portal since Paul Chryst was fired, and there just aren’t many reasons to jump around in Madison right now. The Badgers have been a better offense since that coaching change, averaging 35 points per game over the last two, and Graham Mertz has thrown for seven touchdowns during that span. Chimere Dike (29-487-5) has caught four of those scores and leads the team in all receiving categories. Of course, Braelon Allen is still the workhorse running back, he became the 5th fastest Badger to reach 2,000 career rushing yards last week and is third in the conference with eight rushing touchdowns. Allen is even working in some wildcat looks with two completed passes, including one touchdown throw. The Badger defense is still a top-25 unit in terms of yards allowed, but the stats are a little skewed by dominant performances against poor competition. This defense has been pushed around by Illinois and Michigan State, and it is apparent that Wisconsin is short an impact player or two. Nick Herbig leads the Big Ten with six sacks and eight tackles for loss, while Maema Njongmeta is just outside the top 10 in tackles, but the unit is rather average outside of those two.
Boilermakers Break the Streak
Wisconsin doesn’t look like they are 2.5 points better than anyone, even in Camp Randall. Mertz is improving, but he still makes one or two bad decisions in critical situations, and O’Connell is the better passer on the field this weekend. The Wisconsin running game can still bully opponents, but so can Minnesota’s, and Purdue held the Gophers to 47 rushing yards. Purdue is going to get points on the board and challenge Wisconsin to keep up with the passing game. That is going to prove to be the key Boiler advantage, just like it was last week against Nebraska. We are going to see low 70s at game time, and that is even better news for Purdue, as this time of year in Madison can bring the kind of weather that would normally hamstring a good passing offense. The Boilers steal one in Madison 31-28.
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