Wisconsin Badgers (8-0 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (3-5 SU, 2-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date and Time: Saturday, November 4 at 12pm ET
Where: Memorial Stadium
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WIS -10.5/IND +10.5
Over/Under Total: 49
The landscape of college football has mostly taken shape as we are nearing the end of the regular season. The ultimate goal of making the playoff draw is a reality for only about ten or so teams at this point and that number may decrease in any given week as the few remaining unbeatens try to win out. Wisconsin heads to Bloomington to take on Indiana this Saturday and the Badgers are sitting pretty as the 4th ranked team in the coaches poll at 8-0. Their playoff chances are currently being harmed by a weak schedule but they will get their chance to beat a quality opponent in the Big Ten Championship game. None of that matters unless they win out and, despite some sloppy play, Wisconsin has simply beat the teams they are better than on paper so far. The Badgers are better than the Hoosiers on paper but this Indiana team has proven to be pesky, even in defeat, and represents a legit challenge to a Wisconsin team dealing with some important injuries.
There was little doubt that Wisconsin would be a sizeable favorite this week and the online betting sites currently have the Badgers as 10.5 point favorites. The line for this game opened at 10 and briefly moved ot Indiana +9 before swinging back to where it is now with the over/under set at 49. Wisconsin has been an ATS winner in eight of the last nine road games while Indiana has only won one of the last six against the spread at The Rock. Despite the top-5 poll ranking, Wisconsin is just the 11th best team according to the Sagarin metrics with Indiana a respectable 51st. Indiana has played some tough games but ultimately has an 0-4 record against top-30 Sagarin schools and an 0-2 mark against the top-10. Those computers are predicting a 28-16 win for Wisconsin.
These teams are meeting for the first time since the 2013 season and Indiana has been thankful for the three year break. Wisconsin has won nine of the last ten meetings and averaged 63 points per game from 2010-2013. The Badger basketball team may not have averaged 63 against Indiana over that same stretch but this is certainly not the same Hoosier football team from back then, especially on defense. Tom Allen was brought on by Kevin Wilson to resurrect a failing defense and did just that, turning the Hoosiers into a top-35 total defense in just one season. Allen succeeded Wilson after he and the university parted ways and that Hoosier D has remained solid in yardage allowed categories. This will be a tough test for Indiana as Wisconsin has been able to impose their will on most opponents but this will not be a walk in the park if the Hoosiers can duplicate the efforts they put in against Michigan and Michigan State.
The biggest news for Wisconsin entering the week is the status of running back Jonathan Taylor. The breakout freshman back sat out the second half against Illinois with an apparent ankle injury and he is listed as questionable for Saturday. Taylor came out to the sideline and remained standing for the duration of the game so one could assume his injury is minor but keep an eye on the injury report as the week goes on. The Badgers did not look the same without Taylor and there was a noticeable lack of big runs from his backups Bradrick Shaw and Garrett Grosheck. Wisconsin may also be without S DCota Dixon again this week and that could prove problematic as Indiana is averaging a solid 258 passing yards per game. Not many teams have gone toe-to-toe with Wisconsins 5th ranked run defense and won that battle but there have been a few cracks in the secondary as the Badgers often blitz and leave the corners in man-to-man situations. Safety play then becomes a big factor for Wisconsin and Dixon is their preferred starter.
Indiana is dealing with a key injury of their own as freshman QB Peyton Ramsey is questionable for Saturday with an undisclosed issue. Ramsey has come on and given the Hoosiers a major spark on offense while throwing for 10 touchdowns accounting for the second most rushing yards on the team. Ramsey was knocked around much of the day against Maryland and had to exit the game early. Richard Lagow has experience and has thrown for 812 yards and six scores this season but lacks the next-level playmaking that Ramsey has shown. The Hoosier offensive line has had to shuffle some personnel to cover for injuries and they will need a better effort this week as the Badgers enter with the 4th most sacks in the NCAA. Either Ramsey or Lagow could have a long day if they under the kind of pressure that Wisconsin and bring.
This is a strength on weakness game in one area as Wisconsins 16th ranked run offense takes on Indianas 62nd ranked run defense. The run D is the weak spot for the Hoosiers and there is no doubt that Paul Chryst is going to test that aspect before even thinking about throwing the ball. Wisconsin salted away a win against Nebraska by running on 30-of-32 plays in the second half, including 22 straight to end the game. Nebraska knew it was coming but there is little a defense can do if Wisconsin is firing on all cylinders in that run game. Alex Hornibrook has definitely improved from his freshman year but is still mistake prone and his eight interceptions may be the biggest on-field reason the Badgers are not looked at as legit title contenders. Look for Wisconsin to give Hornibrook some easy play-action reads once the run game sees some success. Quintez Cephus leads the Badgers in catches, yards and touchdown receptions with Troy Fumagalli second in each of those categories. It winds up being a three-headed offense with Taylor running the ball and that is not a lot of diversity for a defense to account for. Indiana is 19th against the pass so they stand a decent chance of keeping this close if they can find a way to get the Badgers in third-and-long situations.
Indiana has a tough test on offense as Wisconsin enters as the 5th ranked defense in total yards and is giving up the 5th fewest points per game at 12.9 per contest. There hasnt been much of a run game in Bloomington with Indiana outside the top-100 at 125 yards per game. The pass game has been better than average with Simmie Cobbs and Luke Timian combing for 103 catches and nearly 1,000 yards with six touchdowns. Both receivers would start on Wisconsins offense and that duo will likely have to do most of the heavy lifting as the Badgers run defense is 5th in the nation at less than 100 yards allowed per game. Whop Philyor grabbed 13 balls against Maryland last week after having just eight receptions entering the game to give Wisconsin another potential matchup to worry about.
Wisconsin is averaging about 35 minutes in time of possession so far and they will win this game if they duplicate that. Indiana doesnt need much time to score but they need to keep their defense fresh or Wisconsin will wear them out in the second half just they have done to everyone else. I think Taylor plays this week and, if he does, this should be a relatively easy cover for Wisconsin. I will take the Badgers even if Taylor misses as Wisconsin has been successful in covering their smaller spreads. It’s the 20+ lines that have given them trouble for the most part. I dont think the Wisconsin gameplan will have Hornibrook taking too many chances and no one has put up points against that Badger defense without the benefit of a short field. This one is another grinder that might be nap inducing for those watching but Wisconsin is going to stay unbeaten for at least another week and they get the ATS win here with a 27-13 win.
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wisconsin. Not all sportsbooks are created equal! Many are fly by night, poorly run and your loot is actually at risk. End that problem today by signing up at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted sportsbooks! Online for over 15 years, your credit card will work and you’ll also receive a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!