Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Just a few weeks ago, Michigan suffered a shocking upset loss as 21 point favorites against the Michigan State Spartans. Though surprising, most expected the Wolverines to rebound in last week's road trip to Indiana. Instead, the Wolverines dropped their 2nd straight game in a 38-21 defeat marking Michigan's first loss to Indiana since 1997. Additionally, it was the first time since 2017 that the Wolverines dropped back to back regular-season games under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. On Saturday, Michigan has yet another stiff challenge when they host the no. 13 Wisconsin Badgers at The Big House as they look to avoid an unthinkable 3rd straight defeat.
For Wisconsin, it seems that eternity has passed since we last saw the Badgers on the gridiron. After blowing away Illinois 45-7 in the opener, the Badgers' last two games have been postponed/canceled due to COVID-19 complications. At the same time, the lack of field time could be concerning; Wisconsin matches-up well against the Wolverines stylistically. If the Badgers can pull out the victory on Saturday, they could easily climb back into the Big Ten Championship discussion thanks to the struggles of both Penn State and Michigan. Obviously, Ohio State stands at the top of the Big Ten, but the question is, who will be their biggest challenge? Indiana has made some headway, but this will be the Badgers' first big test to prove they belong in the conversation.
What to expect from Wisconsin
Since most fans and bettors have not had the opportunity to watch Wisconsin this season, let's breakdown the Badgers offense. QB Jack Coan was expected to lead the offense this season but suffered a foot injury before the opener. Former standout running back Jonathan Taylor is now in the NFL, which leads the backfield to the duo of Garrett Groshek and Nakia Watson. Offensively, Head Coach Paul Chryst remains heavily invested in the ground-game. In fact, the Badgers have supported a 2:1 run-pass ratio over their last five games going back to 2019. Backup freshman quarterback Graham Mertz looked great in the opener, hitting 20 of 21 passing for 248 yards with five touchdowns. However, we have to consider the competition factor as well.
Personally, I believe Mertz showed enough skill in that game that Wisconsin will feel confident in his ability. Still, he is inexperienced at the college level, and we have to expect Wisconsin will put the focus on the ground game to put Mertz in favorable situations. The Wolverines defense has not exactly lived up to the Jim Harbaugh expectations this season. Typically one of the top defenses in the country, Michigan, has struggled to keep offenses off the field rank 32nd against the run in this COVID-19 plagued season that lacks the normal amount of teams in the rankings. As a result, expect Wisconsin to put a heavy focus on their ground attack as they look to keep the chains moving against what has become a somewhat manageable Michigan defense.
Wolverines offense vs. Badgers defense
The biggest advantage that Wisconsin has in this particular match-up is the play of their defense. The Badgers return the majority of the same defense that ranked 4th in the FBS in 2019, including top 10 rankings in both rushing and scoring. From what I have seen out of Michigan this season, the offense is struggling. QB Joe Milton looks fairly average, completing 60% passing with four scores and two picks through 3 games. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have really struggled to run the football, which has played directly into their early struggles. Against this Wisconsin defense, I just don't see many answers or paths to turn things around. Milton will need to be at his best this Saturday, but I just don't see it happening given the match-up.
- Get more details: Wisconsin at Michigan Match-up Stats
Wisconsin vs. Michigan Betting Trends
- Wisconsin is 4-2 ATS in their last six games.
- Wisconsin has hit the "over" in six of the last seven games.
- Wisconsin is 5-1 ATS in their last six games against Michigan.
- Michigan is 1-4 ATS in its last five games.
- Michigan is 13-2 SU in their last 15 games at home.
- The "over" has cashed in six of the last eight meetings between Wisconsin and Michigan.