Wisconsin Badgers (5-0, 2-0 in Big 10) +2, o/u 51 at Illinois Fighting Illini (4-1, 2-0), noon Eastern Saturday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com
A Big 10 border battles takes place Saturday afternoon in Champaign when the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers visit the once-beaten Fighting Illini of Illinois.
Wisconsin is 5-0 this season, and has won 14 games in a row dating back to last year, and nine straight Big 10 contests.
Illinois has won four games in a row, its longest winning streak in recent memory.
The Badgers may be undefeated, but they also may be over-rated. Wisconsin trailed in the season opener to Washington State before winning 42-21, struggled mightily at UNLV before coming from behind to win, allowed 31 points in a victory over The Citadel, beat Iowa by four at home and, last week, held off Michigan State 37-34 as seven-point home chalk.
The Illini, meanwhile, fell in decent fashion to Missouri in their season opener, then shut out Western Illinois, won at Syracuse and Indiana, and last week beat Penn State 27-20 as three-point home dogs.
Wisconsin has four in a row in this series, including a 30-24 decision last season at Camp Randall. The Badgers had to rally from an 18-point second-quarter deficit, and outscored Illinois 20-0 in the second half. But they never threatened to cover the spread as 21-point home favorites. The Illini, thanks to 53 yards from QB Juice Williams, outrushed Wisconsin 121-99. Also, the game went over its total of 45.
The Badgers are 1-3 against the spread this year, while Illinois is 3-1.
This is only Wisconsin’ second road game of this season. Their only other road trip was to Las Vegas, where they came from behind in the last few minutes to beat the Rebels 20-13 as 26-point road chalk.
The Illini are 2-0 both SU and ATS at home this year.
The Badgers are outscoring opponents this year 32-22, outgaining them 412-360, and outrushing them 205-126. But their defense has been shaky, and is a concern.
Illinois is outscoring foes this year 30-19, outgaining them 413-338 and outgrounding them 256-95.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Wisconsin 41st at 76.8, Illinois 40th at 76.9.
The o/u is 2-2 in Badgers games this season, which are averaging 55 points per.
The o/u is 3-1 in Illini games this year, which are averaging 49 points per.
Illinois opened up as three-point home favorites for this game, with a total of 51. The line has dropped a half-point at most sportsbooks around the Net, while the o/u has held steady. And Illinois is listed at around -130 on the moneyline, with Wisconsin getting +110.
Zman’s Pick: Wiscy has had quite a few guys down due to injury. Some of those guys are getting healthy now which we don’t feel is factored into this point spread. We like the Badgers to not only cover the +2.5 but win straight up. We hate to side with the public, but they appear to be right this time.