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Big Ten Betting Preview & Pick: Northwestern at Wisconsin

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Wisconsin takes the field with legitimate revenge after being upset 20-14 by Northwestern last year, which is significant in that the Badgers are a perfect 3-0 SU and ATS avenging a loss to the Wildcats, winning by 30 points per game. Moreover, Wisconsin is a perfect 9-0 ATS following a bye and 7-3 ATS as a conference home favorite of thirteen or less points, whereas the Wildcats are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games versus conference foes with revenge.

Wisconsin’s success is predicated upon a stout defense that is allowing 12.3 points and 272 total yards per game at 4.5 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yards per play. The Badgers are 5-1 at home this season where they are limiting opponents to a mere 5.0 points and 207 total yards per game at 3.5 yards per play and 41.5 yards per point!

Overall, the Badgers stop unit is 0.9 yards per rush attempt, 0.8 yards per pass attempt and 0.8 yards per play better than average, which is certainly good enough to slow down a bad Northwestern attack.

Indeed, the Wildcats’ offense is averaging just 4.7 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.3 yards per play to mediocre offensive squads. Even more alarming is the fact that Northwestern is averaging a mere 16.3 points and 257 total yards on the road at 4.0 yards per play. Being 0.6 yards per play worse than average offensively from the line of scrimmage gives the Badgers a substantial (actually, overwhelming) 1.4 yards per play advantage on the defensive side of the ball.

It could not be a worse matchup for Northwestern’s run-heavy offense as Pat Fitzgerald’s squad is now faced with the impossible task of trying to move the ball against an elite Wisconsin front seven. Frankly, I don’t see how Northwestern scores in this game absent turnovers by the Badgers deep in their own territory. Meanwhile, Wisconsin possesses a decent offense that is averaging 28.7 points and 399 total yards per game at 5.6 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yards per play.

The issue facing Wisconsin is the fact that the Wildcats own a very good defense of their own that is 0.8 yards per play better than average (4.6 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yards per play). However, the Badgers’ attack has shown some signs of life heading into its bye week, averaging 34.3 points and 11,2 yards per point in its last three contests. Wisconsin should also have Corey Clement back which will aide in its production on the ground.

From a technical standpoint, Wisconsin is 14-2 ATS in its last 16 games off a bye (9-0 L/9) and 5-1 ATS in its last six home games versus teams with a winning road record, while the home team is a perfect 8-0 SU and ATS in this series. With Northwestern failing to covering four of its last five games off a week of rest, lay the number with the avenging Badgers and invest with confidence.

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