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Betting Preview: Michigan Wolverines vs Wisconsin Badgers

Big Ten rivals Michigan and Wisconsin may both be 2-0, but they’ve gotten off to those perfect starts in drastically different ways. The Badgers couldn’t have been more dominant through their first two games, outscoring opponents 110-0. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are 0-2 against the spread following less than impressive performances vs Army and Middle Tennessee.

Michigan Wolverines vs Wisconsin Badgers (Matchup Report)
Date/Time: September 21, 12 noon ET
TV Coverage: FOX
Opening Odds: Wisconsin -3 | O/U 47.0 (Line History)

Opening Odds Analysis

The point spread may not have moved as a result of early betting action in this one, but the juice certainly did. BetOnline opened Michigan +3 at +115 odds, then adjusted the vig to -130 within an hour before the line stabilized at +3 -110 as of Sunday night. To me, the reluctance to move off the key number of 3 indicates oddsmakers’ expectation of a tight affair in Madison.

Michigan News & Notes

Last week’s bye couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wolverines. Not only did they have plenty to work on following their OT win over Army (when Michigan was a three-touchdown favorite), they’ve also been banged up a bit. Most notably on offense, where left tackle Jon Runyan Jr. and wide receiver/punt returner Donovan Peoples-Jones could potentially return from injury this week, while quarterback Shea Patterson had an extra week to recover from an oblique injury suffered in the season opener.

On defense, Michigan is expected to return to its 4-3 base scheme after modifying it a bit against the unorthodox offenses of Middle Tennessee and Army. Playing four down linemen could help the Wolverines get more pressure on the quarterback, especially against a Wisconsin offensive line that features four freshman starters.

Wisconsin News & Notes

While Michigan welcomed a bye week with open arms, the Badgers probably wish they could have kept playing. It’s pretty hard to be critical of a team that has outscored its opponents 110-0 through its first two games, even if those opponents were South Florida and Central Michigan. Wisconsin’s offense ranks 24th in the nation with an average of 516 yards per contest, while the defensive numbers obviously couldn’t be better.

Soft schedule aside, one big key to Wisconsin’s dominant start has been the Badgers’ attention to detail. They have committed the fewest penalties and surrendered the fewest penalty yards in the Big Ten, quarterback Jack Coan has yet to throw an interception and running back Jonathan Taylor hasn’t fumbled after putting the ball on the ground 12 times over the past two seasons. That’s a big contrast to a Michigan offense that has fumbled the ball away nine times already.

Betting Pick: Michigan +3

Michigan’s moved the ball well in its first two games but shot itself in the foot with mental and physical mistakes. I’ll take the points with the Wolverines against a Wisconsin team that seems due for some regression.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Michigan’s last 7 games on the road.
  • Michigan is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 games on the road in September.
  • Wisconsin is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 home games vs Michigan.