Wisconsin vs. Michigan Predictions and Picks: Against the Spread and Latest Odds
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Point Spread: Wisconsin -2
Game Time: Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, FOX
Wisconsin vs. Michigan Prediction
The Wisconsin Badgers will look to regroup in search of a desperately needed marquee victory as they host the Michigan Wolverines. Wisconsin has had two ‘step up in class’ games already, and they failed in both of them, going 0-2 SU and ATS in losses to Penn State and Notre Dame. Last week’s 41-13 loss to the Fighting Irish was particularly frustrating for the Badgers because the defense was outstanding for most of the game as Notre Dame’s offense and quarterback Jack Coan were unable to gain any sort of traction or rhythm moving the football. Coan completed just 15-for-29 through the air for 158 passing yards, and Wisconsin held running back Kyren Williams to 33 yards rushing on 18 carries. The defense was phenomenal for Wisconsin, yet they still lost the game by 28 points because the offense was borderline inept. Quarterback Graham Mertz continues to regress as opposed to improving as he had a horrible day completing only 18-for-40 throwing the football with a touchdown and four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were pick-sixes returned for touchdowns by Notre Dame. Notre Dame had three non-offensive touchdowns in the win if you also include the 96-yard kick return touchdown by Chris Tyree.
The Wisconsin offense is broken right now, totally lacking confidence and shut down entirely by the two best teams they’ve played this season, and it will not be easy to fix it against an excellent Michigan defense on Saturday. Michigan is undefeated but had to work to get past Rutgers, who wouldn’t go away last Saturday. The Wolverines offense was held in check for the first time this season as they managed just 20 points and 275 total yards on offense. Michigan’s run game was highly potent, but last week, the running back duo of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins was neutralized by Rutgers. Now they will face a Wisconsin defense that will be every bit the test that Rutgers was, and the Badgers are yielding only 23 rushing yards per game. Allowing just one yard per carry with a dominant run defense and that could mean quarterback Cade McNamara being forced into doing more through the air to help make the Michigan offense work on the road against Wisconsin.
However, we just saw a game where Wisconsin’s defense played great, and they still lost because of just how awful and mistake-prone Graham Mertz and the offense has been. Michigan’s defense is as capable of shutting down Wisconsin’s struggling offense as Penn State and Notre Dame did. The Wolverines are allowing just 131 yards on the ground per game and less than 200 passing yards per game. This game is lined near a pick-em, and it’s worth noting Michigan does have the edge in terms of red zone efficiency on both sides of the football. The Wolverines have the better red-zone offense and red zone defense statistically entering this Big Ten clash on Saturday.
There is no doubt that the current line on this game indicates that Wisconsin has been devalued in the betting markets a bit after last week’s loss to Notre Dame. The Badgers were -5.5 at home against the Penn State Nittany Lions and -6 to -6.5 favorites against Notre Dame at Soldier Field in Chicago last week. Now we see Wisconsin laying -2 and less than a Field Goal at home against Michigan. There is some line value on Wisconsin, but I personally do not want any part of backing this team right now. The defense has played two really good games this season in the losses to Penn State and Notre Dame, but the offense and struggles of quarterback Graham Mertz have been too much to overcome for this team. Mertz is not accurate in the passing game. He holds on to the football too long and is making brutal decisions with the football every week. Michigan’s defense is certainly a unit that can force him into the same mistakes this week.
Michigan has had problems winning big games on the road in the Jim Harbaugh era, and they have had a rough time beating Wisconsin here in Madison in recent years. Still, this Wolverines team has been impressive this season, and this is their best chance to finally get a quality victory away from Ann Arbor against a team whose confidence certainly has to be shaken. I expect Michigan to seize the opportunity.