It was a bit surprising that the Wisconsin Badgers were ranked sixth in the BCS Standings before last week considering they were ranked fourth in the human polls and were considered legitimate national title contenders, but apparently the computers knew best in light of their 37-31 loss at Michigan State on a game ending Hail Mary.
Ohio State is just 4-3 SU, but the defense seems as strong as ever and the Buckeyes are coming off of a bye week after a dominating defensive performance at Illinois.
1. Why Ohio State will cover the spread: The Buckeyes will cover this spread if their defense plays as well as it has at home all year and the offense does not turn the ball over. Ohio State is allowing just 12.2 points and 265.5 yards per game at home this year, and the Buckeyes even took that defense on the road with them two weeks ago in a 17-7 win in Champaign where they held the Illini to 285 total yards and forced three turnovers. They were also ultra conservative on offense as quarterback Braxton Miller threw just four passes the entire game and completed one, although it was a 17-yard touchdown toss.
That approach might work here again as it would keep the Wisconsin offense off the field, but we do think Ohio State has to have at least some minimal success through the air to make covering the spread easier.
2. Why Wisconsin will cover the spread: First and foremost, the Badgers have to shake off last week’s loss and play the same offense they have played all year, which may be easier said than done after a crushing defeat that dashed their title hopes. If they do come to play, the Badgers are much more balanced offensively this season thanks to the passing of Russell Wilson, and as a result, they are averaging a whopping 47.4 points on 511.7 total yards per game.
3. Total Talk: Now this posted total looks low at first glance given those Wisconsin offensive numbers, but we actually feel that this game screams ‘under’. The Badgers are facing easily the best defense they have faced all season, and try as they might, we just do not think they will shake off that Spartans’ loss so easily, so we are looking for the most sluggish offensive performance from them all year.
And when the Buckeyes have the ball, while they may throw a few more than four passes this week, we still expect them to stay conservative for the most part, especially if the running game that produced 211 rushing yards vs. Illinois clicks once again.
4. Betting Trends for the game: Wisconsin is 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 games overall, but Ohio State is 17-4 ATS in its last 21 home games. The ‘under’ is 8-1 in Ohio State’s last nine games as an underdog, as well as 6-2-1 in the last nine head-to-head meetings.
Speaking of head-to-head, the underdog has howled eight of the L/11 times these division rivals butted heads on the gridiron.
5. Ohio State-Wisconsin Prediction: Wisconsin 23 – Ohio State 21