This Saturday afternoon features an important Big Ten matchup as Wisconsin (1-2) hosts #14 Michigan (4-0). Wisconsin started the season nationally ranked in the AP Top 25 poll but has fallen out of the rankings after competitive losses to Notre Dame and Penn State, both of whom are ranked in the top 10.
Michigan has had the opposite trajectory, clawing their way into the top 25 after starting the season unranked. The Wolverines have yet to beat a ranked team, however, as their schedule has been relatively easy.
Will Michigan be able to win a tough road matchup in Wisconsin? Or will the Badgers bounce back with a win at home? Let’s dive in with my Michigan vs Wisconsin predictions and best bets.
Please note that all Michigan vs Wisconsin odds and lines are current as of Thursday, September 30.
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Michigan vs Wisconsin Prediction
Michigan’s offense has undergone a complete makeover under Jim Harbaugh this season, and the early results have been positive. The Wolverines have increased their rushing rate by 30 percentage points over last year, as their 73.8% rushing rate is the fourth-highest in the FBS and most among non-service academy schools.
Michigan loves to run, and this game is going to come down to how well Wisconsin can stop it. The Badgers have an excellent run defense that’s yielded just one yard per carry this season — the lowest in the FBS. Last week, for example, Wisconsin yielded a mere nine rushing yards on 32 carries to Notre Dame.
The only worry anyone should have about betting on the Badgers is if they can produce enough points. Their quarterback Graham Mertz has been horrendous so far, and Michigan has a sound pass defense. The Wolverines have yielded 171.5 passing yards per game, which is the 21st-lowest in the FBS.
With both sides bringing strong defenses to the table, this figures to be a low-scoring game. I think Wisconsin shuts down Michigan’s ground game and does enough through the air to win at home.
Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Michigan 10
Michigan vs Wisconsin Best Bets
Best Bet: Wisconsin -2 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
The lines have been all over this place for this game, but as it stands Wisconsin is a slight home favorite. As noted above, I like them to win a low-scoring game against Michigan. The Wolverines have yet to face a team as strong as the Badgers and will be playing on the road.
Additionally, Wisconsin’s stout run defense should severely limit Michigan’s one-dimensional offense. I’m rolling with the Badgers here, but would only bet them up to -2.5 (-115) for this NCAAF bet of the day.
Best Bet: Wisconsin Margin of Victory 1-13 (+175) at PointsBet
Wager: 1 Unit
If Wisconsin wins, it will probably be by fewer than two touchdowns. Their offense is inept and their defense is great, but the game should be close and they are unlikely to beat Michigan by multiple touchdowns.