Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Pick ATS
Wisconsin Badgers (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 7
Date and Time:Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12pm ET
Point Spread:WISC -31/ILL +31 (SportsBetting.ag)
The season-long goals are coming into sharper focus for some teams, but with no room for error, the best college football teams need their best effort every week. Georgia found out how quickly things can be upended last week, and Wisconsin will be looking to avoid a similar letdown this weekend when they face Illinois. The Badgers will bring the best defense in the land to Champaign, and that alone is going to make it tough for an Illini team that hasn’t won a game in this series since 2007. Wisconsin has won each of the last nine games since with a 6-3 ATS mark over that stretch.
What Wisconsin has been able to do on defense so far is nothing short of remarkable. They have pitched four shutouts, including last week against Michigan State, and that may have been the most impressive one with MSU averaging 260 passing yards per game ahead of that contest. Wisconsin leads the nation in yards allowed, both passing and rushing and is surrendering just 4.8 points per game. They have allowed just 29 total points on the season, better than 47 schools are allowing per game. Illinois ranks 111th in total yards per game, and the biggest question for them this week is whether or not they will be able to crack the UW defensive code. Getting even ten points on the board could make it tough on Wisconsin to cover this massive spread.
Illinois did some nice things early in wins against Akron and UConn but the last month has been tough with four straight losses. Over that stretch, The Illini have given up 39.5 points per game to the likes of Michigan, Nebraska, and Minnesota, and they will have another top-notch offense to battle with Wisconsin averaging 42.5 points per game. Brandon Peters leads the team in passing, but he missed last week with a concussion and remains a question mark for Saturday. Matt Robinson showed some skills while throwing for 192 yards and a score against Michigan, but he would face a defense that is allowing 129 passing yards per contest and ranks 8th with 22 sacks. Illinois hasn’t been able to move the ball consistently, and that has hurt them in time of possession (27:13), which in turn puts a ton of pressure on their defense. The Illini enter the week 100th in yards allowed and 96th in points, giving up 30.7 per game.
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Jonathan Taylor is the big-ticket for the UW offense, and he is having another strong season with 6.4 yards per carry and 14 rushing touchdowns. While he is soaking up all the media attention, it is going somewhat missed that this Wisconsin offense has a ton of weapons. Jack Coan is completing nearly 77% of his passes, and five different Badger receivers have hit the fifteen catch mark so far, including Taylor. Quintez Cephus is the big play guy in that group, but each receiver has come up with a handful of plays over the course of the season, and it makes defending just one a losing proposition.
Additionally, eight different Baders have notched at least one rushing score so far to prove further that Paul Chryst knows how to get something out of everyone on this offense. Michigan State held Taylor to 80 yards last week, and it just didn’t matter as UW went elsewhere and still put up 31 points on offense. Illinois is 108th against the run at 204 yards allowed per game, so watch for Taylor to have a bounce-back yardage game. Wisconsin leads the country in time of possession at just over 37.5 minutes per game, and they convert of 52% of third-down conversions.
Wisconsin is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven overall and has an impressive 14-4 ATS mark in the last eighteen on the road. The under is 9-3 in the last twelve Wisconsin games and 4-1 in the last five when UW has taken on an opponent with a losing record. The favorite is 5-2 against the spread in the last seven in this series.
As an early skeptic of Wisconsin’s apparent dominance, I started 0-2 picking their games but have moved to 3-3 on the year after tabbing the Badgers to easily get the point spread cover against Michigan State last week. I think the march continues for Wisconsin and Illinois is not equipped to put up much of a fight considering they are facing tough matchups on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin does have a huge date in Columbus in two weeks, but that has never been a problem for this team in the past. So, I doubt there will be much looking past this opponent. Illinois lacks the playmakers to stress the defense, and no one has been able to move the ball on UW consistently. Taylor and the play-action game are going to produce a big lead, and that lets this defense settle into playing the pass, and things have looked relatively easy. Any number of goofy circumstances can drastically impact a game with such a large spread, but Wisconsin is among the cleanest teams in terms of turnovers and penalties, so they aren’t giving out any easy chances or short fields. I will give the Illini the benefit of the doubt and not predict them as a fifth shutout victim, but I’m laying the points as I expect Wisconsin to win 41-7.
Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Wisconsin
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