Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans Odds, Trends, Free Pick ATS

by | Last updated Oct 11, 2022 | cfb

Wisconsin Badgers (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) v. Michigan State Spartans (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS)
NCAA Week 7
When: Saturday, October 15 at 4 pm ET
Where: Spartan Stadium – East Lansing, MI
Watch: FOX

Point Spread: WIS -7.5/MSU +7.5 (Bet the Badgers as a +12.5 underdog by inserting them into a 20 point CFB teaser at Wagerweb Sportsbook!)

Over/Under Total: 49

While Ohio State is making conference championship game plans, the meat of the Big Ten is busy cannibalizing itself and jockeying for bowl position. Wisconsin heads to East Lansing this Saturday in a matchup that could change the season outlook for both teams. The Badgers routed Northwestern in their first game under Jim Leonhard, and it was immediately obvious that things have changed with the offense as Graham Mertz threw for 299 yards and five touchdowns. If Wisconsin can maintain a diverse offense, they will be a significant factor in the Big Ten West for the remainder of the season. Michigan State looked legit while winning their first two but have dropped four straight, all by a margin of at least eleven points. The Spartans have tough road games ahead, so a win against an imperfect Badger squad at home is a near-must if Sparty wants to see a bowl game. This was a budding rivalry in the early 2010s, but this will be just the second meeting between the schools since the 2016 season.

Trend Watch

Wisconsin has not been a good bet inside the conference, going 1-4 against the spread in the last five against the Big Ten, but they do have a 5-1 ATS mark when facing teams with losing records. Michigan State has the same 1-4 ATS record in their last five Big Ten games. However, they have won 7-of-11 against the spread at home. The Wisconsin defense has taken a step back from its top form of the last few years, and the Over has been a beneficiary with a 4-0 record in the last four Badger games overall. The Under has been the play in MSU games with a 5-2 mark in the last seven overall. The underdog has won five of the last six against the spread in this series. This has been one of the more fluid lines, with Wisconsin listed as a two-point dog at some online sportsbooks or slight favorites at others. That line stabilized through Monday betting, with Bucky now a nearly universal touchdown favorite.

A New Era

The head coaching job was always going to be offered to Jim Leonhard at some point, but no one saw that day coming in 2022. The firing of Paul Chryst was among the more shocking coaching changes in Big Ten history, but that decision paid dividends right away, with Wisconsin dominating both sides of the ball in Evanston. The Badgers threw for six touchdowns and still rushed for 193 yards while pitching a shutout on defense in a place where they seldom play well. It was by far the most complete team effort of this season, and we will see how long Wisconsin can ride the wave of emotion created by the coaching turmoil. Graham Mertz now has thirteen touchdown passes on the season against five interceptions and will work against the 122nd-ranked MSU passing defense. Braelon Allen is fourth in the Big Ten with 634 rushing yards, and Wisconsin has developed a wildcat package for him that led to an Allen touchdown pass this past weekend. Chimere Dike is an under-utilized playmaker in this offense, but that could change after a 10-185-3 line last week. Skyler Bell is coming on and is second on the team with 256 receiving yards and three scores. The defense is not as stifling as in years past, but they remain inside the top 25 in total yards allowed and rank 32nd in scoring defense, allowing 19.5 points per game. Nick Herbig leads the team with five sacks, and Wisconsin has racked up eight interceptions as a team.

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Struggling Sparty

Saying that things haven’t been going well for MSU is an understatement, but the numbers paint a dark picture. OSU came into Spartan Stadium as 27-point favorites – the largest spread a visitor has ever been favored by against State – and was able to cover. The Spartans were underdogs in each of the last four and failed to cover in any. The Spartan offense is putting up 342 total yards per game, good for 103rd in the country and the rushing average of 107 yards per game is near the bottom of all college football. Things may not get better for the run game, with Wisconsin’s run defense ranking 32nd. Payton Thorne has spread his nine touchdown passes around to six different receivers, but the passing offense is just 10th best in the conference at 205 yards per game. Jalen Berger leads the team with 304 rushing yards and is a familiar name for Badger fans after spending his freshman season in Madison. Berger broke the 100-yard mark in each of the first two games but has managed just 81 yards in the four games since. Keon Coleman, Jayden Reed, and Tre Mosley all have at least 21 receptions and 220 receiving yards to give MSU a nice group of playmakers. Michigan State was dead-last in passing defense last season, and things aren’t much better this year with 292 yards per game allowed, ranking 122nd of 130 teams. Yards allowed are one thing but possibly more troubling is that the secondary has generated just one interception.

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Wisconsin Stays on Top and Gets the Win

It was a strange week in Madison, with some suggesting that Wisconsin played well in support of Paul Chryst while others said they showed up for Leonhard’s first game as the head coach. Maybe it was some of both, but the result was a completely different look for a team that has been hit-and-miss at best this season. This year’s Northwestern team is not as good, but Wisconsin has seldom looked good in Ryan Stadium, and if nothing else, the coaching change has this team engaged. That is probably some of what the Badgers needed in terms of a fresh start, and the talent is there on this team to line up and beat Michigan State. Mertz showed poise in and out of the pocket last week; expect that to continue against a soft passing defense. Braelon Allen will play a big role with Chez Mellusi sidelined with an injured wrist, and Wisconsin will control the time of possession as they so often do. This Wisconsin defense is more than capable of limiting a poor rushing offense and a pedestrian passing game. Wisconsin is brewing up another top-end linebacker as Maema Njongmeta leads the team in tackles, and he is benefiting from all the attention paid to Nick Herbig. Wisconsin is far from perfect, so don’t expect another run-away victory, but the Badgers will use the run game to secure a 28-17 win.

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