Saturday’s matchup between Michigan and Wisconsin is a huge opportunity for the Wolverines to reestablish themselves as a credible team, get a big bowl game and possibly skip past Ohio State for the Big 10 East division. For the #8 ranked Badgers, a win over Michigan should help them move up closer to the Top 5 rankings and keep them undefeated on the season. Kickoff inside Camp Randall is at 12 PM ET.
Since 2000, Michigan has posted a 6-4 record against the Badgers. They played each other last year and the Wolverines won a low scoring defensive battle 14-7. However, Wisconsin has taken 2 out of the last 3 games between these teams and they have won their last 3 home games against Michigan.
The Wolverines (8-2, 5-2 Big 10) are coming into this matchup on a 3 game winning streak. Since their loss to Penn State on October 21st, Michigan has railed off 3 straight victories by double digit points. The closest margin of victory was 21 points. If Michigan can pull this victory out, they will have a shot at getting to the Big 10 title game if they can beat OSU next week.
The Badgers (10-0, 7-0 Big 10) continue to roll along and do so under the radar. The Big 10 is one of the best conferences in the country, yet their top team can’t even crack the top 5. Wisconsin destroyed the #20 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes last week 38-14. The thing about the Badgers is that they play to the level of their competition. Many times, they played down to their competition. But, as the quality of opponent has gone up, so has the effort and success of the Badgers.
The spread opened with Wisconsin favored by 10 points. Since then, it has come down to 7.5 points. If you can get it below 7 anywhere, then I would jump all over that. The Over/Under opened at 41.5 points and has come down to 41 total points.
For all of the praise Michigan’s defense has received over the season, Wisconsin’s is just as good. Michigan has given up 120 points in Big 10 play and Wisconsin has given up 104. The Wolverines have given up 164 points total on the season and Wisconsin has given up 134. Michigan allows 254.8 total yards per game and Wisconsin allows 247.6 ypg.
If the Wolverines are the measuring stick for defense in the Big 10 then Wisconsin has passed that bar. The one area that Michigan is slightly better on the defense is against the pass. However, Michigan is significantly worse against the run than Wisconsin at 110.3 ypg compared to 81.5 ypg. And, this is going to be the difference in the game.
Wisconsin averages 433 total yards per game and 36.6 ppg compared to Michigan at 373 ypg and 27.9 ppg. The big difference is in the running game. Michigan averages a solid 207.8 rushing yards per game while Wisconsin averages 245 ypg on the ground. I like Jonathan Taylor over Karan Higdon in this game as Taylor is the main weapon for Wisconsin and has nearly twice as many rushing yards as Higdon (1,525 to 854).
I believe the Badgers will pound the Michigan defense with their running game and eventually break through to open up their lead. I don’t see this being a high scoring game, but I do believe Wisconsin can cover the spread.
And, when it comes down to the quarterbacks, you have to like Wisconsin’s Hornibrook over Michigan’s O’Korn. I also believe that Hornibrook will make more plays this weekend than O’Korn and that will help this Wisconsin team get a big win at home.
Michigan is 2-3-1 ATS in the last 6 games, 1-8-1 ATS in the last 10 games against Wisconsin, and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games at Camp Randall. Wisconsin is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games, 6-3 ATS in their last 9 November games and 10-5 ATS in their last 15 home games where they’re a favorite of 7.5 to 10 points.
Both defenses will show up in this game. So, if you like smash mouth football then you will love this game. I expect both teams to try and establish the run early and play the field position battle. Ultimately, I think Wisconsin has the defense, the run game and the offensive-line to win a physical game against the Wolverines. Badgers 21 – Wolverines 13