The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers will get the 2017 underway with a home game against the Utah State Aggies on Friday, Sept. 1st. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 EST at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Looking to place a wager on this contest? Our Week 1 betting lines show the Badgers are currently a 28.5-point favorite. That’s a decent drop off the opening line of 31.5. The total is sitting at 48.5 points.

Wisconsin vs Utah State Vegas NCAAF Betting Preview

The Badgers are coming off an 11-3 campaign, that had them painfully close to making the playoffs. Wisconsin’s three losses came by 7-points or less. They lost 7-14 at Michigan, fell 23-30 in OT at home to Ohio State and lost 31-38 to Penn St in the Big Ten title game.

Paul Chryst has compiled an impressive 21-6 record over his first two seasons on the job. With 15 starters back the Badgers are the favorites to win the Big Ten West again. They also have a legit shot at running the table and representing the conference in the playoffs.

Utah State is just hoping that last year was a fluke and not a sign of things to come. After 5 straight bowl appearances, the Aggies managed to go just 3-9 in 2016. One of those coming against a FCS foe in Weber State.

On the bright side, they did have 4 losses by 7-points or less and were competitive in a couple other defeats. Now it’s up to 5th year head coach Matt Wells to get them back on track. Wells will have to do so with only 10 returning starters (5 each side of the ball).

Free College Football ATS Selection: Wisconsin -28.5

I would have to lean towards laying the 4+ TD’s and back the Badgers at home. Wisconsin has won 21 straight home openers by an average of 24 ppg. I could easily see them winning here by 30+ points, as they will be out to make a statement in their first game of the season.

I have big time concerns with the Utah State program and it starts with head coach Matt Wells. He went 19-9 in his first two seasons playing mostly with previous head coach Gary Anderson’s recruits. The Aggies slipped to 6-7 in 2015 before the 3-9 campaign last year. It’s also worth noting that 2017 recruiting class ranked near the bottom of the MWC.

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You can see the regression in the numbers. In Anderson’s final year Utah State averaged 34.9 ppg and gave up just 15.4 ppg. Last year they scored a mere 23.9 ppg and allowed 29.3 ppg. Given the lack of talent at QB and a defense that just lost their top 3 tacklers, it’s unlikely to get better in 2017.

The stat that really sticks out from last year is the 203 ypg and 4.4 yards/carry they allowed on the ground. That’s not a good sign going up against a Wisconsin team that is built on the ground game. At the same time, Utah State has to replace 4 of 5 starters on their offensive line. I look for the Badgers physical front 7 to have their way.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Utah State failed to score more than 10 points. I don’t think it’s going to take a whole lot for Wisconsin to win here in a blowout. If the Badgers can force a couple of turnovers early, this could get out of hand.