Welcome to the Week 7 edition of Matt Midlikowski’s “College Football Lines.” Throughout this article, an in-depth analysis of hand-selected games will identity the best college football bets each week. The trend watch section offers the most important historical trends for each game. Finally, Matt touts one side of the game in the opinion section.
Best College Football Lines
Michigan State Spartans at Wisconsin Badgers (-10, O/U 40.5)
October 12 – 3:30 pm EST – Camp Randall – BTN
This is the time of year when good college football teams are in danger of losing their first game of the season. Predictive analysis suggests that the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers are in danger against a tough Michigan State Spartans squad. Even if the Badgers get the win, more than a few talking heads are taking the 4-2 Spartans to cover as 10-point underdogs.
Wisconsin is fine to cover this weekend, considering they had a walkthrough last week against Kent State, while Michigan State fell to Ohio State. The Spartans did hang tough with OSU and only trailed 17-10 late in the second quarter, but the Buckeyes went run-heavy and Michigan State wilted. Ohio State notched 323 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Wisconsin is a candidate to produce in a similar fashion. The Badgers are the 10th best rushing team in the NCAA, and Jonathan Taylor is averaging 7.2 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns.
Wisconsin is dominant on defense this year, and the ABC network had to scroll down just to show how many top-10 ranked players this defense has. Michigan State is 80th in total yards and 75th in points scored, wondering how many points they can score this weekend is reasonable. It is unlikely that Wisconsin secures a fourth shutout, but 10-14 seems right. This leaves Wisconsin with the task of scoring north of 24 points. That shouldn’t be too hard for a team averaging 43.4 points per game.
Wisconsin’s quarterback, Jack Coan, has settled back into game-manager mode after a couple of big games early in the season. However, he is still hitting on 75% of his pass attempts to keep the offense efficient. Wisconsin is converting on 53% of third downs, while averaging more than 37 minutes in time of possession. Note: This game is Wisconsin (-9) over at DraftKings Sportsbook if you’re nervous about that double-digit line.
Michigan State is 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 games. They’re 1-5 against the spread in their last six in-conference games.
Wisconsin is 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games. They’re 4-1 against the spread in their last five games that immediately follow a win against the spread.
The over is 6-1 in the last 7 Wisconsin home games. Also, it is 9-3 in the last 12 between these teams.
Wisconsin has played exactly one quarter of below-average football this season. That came against Northwestern a couple weeks back. The Wildcats were able to get a couple scores on the board with the help of a recovered onside kick. If not for that, Wisconsin would be 5-0 against the spread. I like them to use their offensive efficiency and defensive strength to cover the 10 points this weekend. Michigan State has plenty of upperclassmen, so I expect a close start with the Badgers eventually pulling away, similar to the way the Buckeyes did. Wisconsin wins 33-11, so I’m good with the over as well, as are 66% of the betting public.