No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (7-4 SU, 4-6 SU); Saturday, November 21st, 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Ryan Field, Evanston, IL; TV: Big Ten Network
By Oracle of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Northwestern +6.5/Wisconsin -6.5
Bet college football games, play poker and wager on horses all from the same account using your credit card at Bodog.
Bet this game and all the rest of your college football games on Friday’s and save 50% on vigorish! Yes, that’s right, bet at -105 odds instead of -110 when you place your college and pro football bets on Friday’s at Sportsbook.
With both the Wisconsin Badgers and Northwestern Wildcats out of the outright Big Ten Championship running - but in a bowl game - the only thing to play for in this matchup on Saturday is, well, a better bowl bid.
The Badgers have opened a lot of eyes this season with their 8-2 straight up record. They had a couple of bumps in the road against Ohio State and Iowa, but other than that have played fairly well - and with a pretty young squad to boot.
Meanwhile, Northwestern isn’t flashy, but they’ve been efficient enough. The Wildcats have had two nice road wins in a row, including handing Iowa their first loss of the season and defeating a streaking Illinois team.
With the game on Northwestern’s turf at Ryan Field, online sportsbooks are giving Northwestern their fair shake, as they open up less than touchdown dogs at +6.5. That line has slightly moved, though, to +7 at many sportsbooks.
Neither team has really given bettors anything to salivate over as far as covering spreads is concerned. Wisconsin is an even 5-5 while Northwestern is just 4-6 ATS.
These two squads haven’t even met since 2006 when the Badgers demolished the Wildcats, 41-6.
Last week, Wisconsin ran away from a reeling Michigan squad in a 45-24 victory. Quarterback Scott Tolzien had one of the best games in his career by throwing for four touchdown passes and running for another. In the Badgers’ eight wins, Tolzien has 14 TD passes to four interceptions and a 156.8 passer rating.
However, in their two losses, he has zero touchdown tosses and five picks.
His favorite target is Nick Toon, who leads the team with 42 catches and four touchdowns. But, ask anyone around Badger country and they’ll tell you the same thing - they’re a run first team.
John Clay leads the Big Ten with 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Clay did get nicked up against the Wolverines in the win, but it looks as though he’ll play against Northwestern.
The run defense is where Northwestern excels the most, so it’ll be key for Wisconsin to stick with the run to help Tolzien in the passing game.
The Badgers’ rush defense, on the other hand, is one of the best in the country. They give up only 99.6 yards on the ground, good enough for 14th in the nation.
Where Northwestern may have the advantage is their spread passing game against the Wisco secondary. Quarterback Mike Kafka has thrown for nearly 2,600 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has six rushing touchdowns and is second in the team with 248 yards.
This just goes to show the lack of running game for the Wildcats. They did rush 42 times in their 21-16 win against Illinois last week, but for just a 3.3 yard average. In their win against Iowa, they averaged just 2.7 yards.
If the Wildcats stay one dimensional, the Badgers defense should be good enough to keep their offense in check.
The Badgers have been pretty good as road favorites for bettors. They’re 5-1 ATS in their last six as favorites of 3.5 to 10 points.
In contrast, though, the Wildcats are 7-1 ATS in their last games as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points. However, Northwestern hasn’t covered a spread in their last five home games.
The over has a lot of trends for the Badgers, as it’s 4-1 in the last five road games. It’s also 4-0 for Northwestern in their last four home games against a team with a winning record.
Wisconsin is a little under the radar this year, but they like it that way. They’ll look to continue to march on with another win while Northwestern is looking for another statement win and improve their bowl bid.
Oracle’s Pick: Both teams have been so inconsistent against the spread, but it seems like the two squads can put up some points. The touchdown spread is something bettors may want to stay away from in this contest because it’ll no doubt be a close one. Instead, take the over 49.5!