The #20 overall Wisconsin Badgers (5-2) travel to Evanston this weekend for a Big 10 West showdown against the Northwestern Wildcats (4-3). Kickoff is set for 12:00 PM EST at Ryan Field and the game will be available on FOX.
Taking a look at the Week 9 college football odds, Wisconsin opened as a 6-point road favorite earlier this week. That line has remained unchanged after early betting, as the Badgers are currently listed at -6. The total for the game is sitting at 50 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Northwestern vs Wisconsin
Wisconsin crushed Illinois 49-20 in Week 8 to improve to 5-2 overall on the season. It was an important victory for the Badgers after they suffered a disappointing loss to Michigan back in Week 7. QB Alex Hornibrook was very effective against the Fighting Illini, passing for 188 yards and three touchdowns. RB Jonathan Taylor continued his recent streak of strong play as well, racking up 159 yards on 27 carries. Taiwan Deal, his partner in the backfield, had a fantastic game as well. Deal turned just 12 carries into 111 yards and two touchdowns, which was by far his most productive outing so far this season. As a whole, Wisconsin is averaging 33.0 points on 461.3 yards of total offense per game.
On the other side of the ball, the Badgers have been one of the better defensive teams in the country all year long. They are currently allowing opponents to score an average of just 20.0 points per game (25th overall). Wisconsin also has a very strong secondary that is giving up an average of just 187.4 yards per game through the air (29th overall). However, they have struggled a little bit against the run, as opponents are currently averaging a healthy 168.7 yards per game on the ground (79th overall).
Northwestern managed to scrape past Rutgers last weekend, although things certainly started to look a little bit dicey in the 4th quarter. The Wildcats needed to convert on two critical fourth downs on their final scoring drive of the day before RB Isaiah Bowser scored on a five yard rush with just 8:12 left to play. Bowser had a huge day on the ground for Northwestern, racking up over 100 rushing yards and finding the end zone twice. His impressive development over the past several weeks has to be a welcome sign for Northwestern, as they have been one of the worst offensive teams in the country on the ground so far this season, averaging just 78.1 rushing yards per game (127th overall). However, QB Clayton Thorson struggled yet again, throwing for only 150 yards and no touchdowns while completing just 50% of his passes against the Scarlet Knights. Thorson has now been unable to find the end zone in four out of his seven starts so far this season, which is obviously very troublesome for Wildcats fans. Overall, Northwestern is currently averaging 24.3 points per game (103rd overall).
Things have gone a little smoother for the Wildcats on the other side of the ball, as they are giving up an average of just 24.6 points per game (58th overall). They are currently giving up an average of 229.7 yards per game through the air (76th overall) and 143.3 yards per game on the ground (49th overall).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Wisconsin -6
It seems like many experts are of the opinion that there is a decent possibility that the Wildcats pull off the upset at home here in Week 9, although I’m not sure that I necessarily agree. While Northwestern has been tough to beat at home over the past several seasons, Wisconsin is clearly the better team on both sides of the ball – especially on offence where they are averaging over seven points more per game than the Wildcats. The only real advantage that Northwestern has over the Badgers has been their rush defense, but I’m not sure if that will be enough to help them cover the spread on Saturday afternoon.
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Wisconsin is 7-1 ATS over their past eight road games against teams with a winning home record. They are also a very impressive 13-3 ATS in their past sixteen games overall and 7-0 ATS in their last seven games on grass. The Wildcats are just 1-4 ATS over their past five home games against teams with a winning read record and 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games following a straight up win.
While the Badgers covering the spread in this particular spot is far from an absolute lock, I like to get my money in good with the more consistent team. Wisconsin has had far fewer ups and downs so far this season, especially in the injury department where Northwestern is still reeling. The Badgers have also scored more than 40 points in three out of their last four games and all five of their five victories have been by at least ten points. I’m expecting those trends to continue on Saturday afternoon, so I’ll lay the points and take the favorite.