Big Ten Football Preview: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 11/19/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Wisconsin -13
Current Betting Line:  Wisconsin -14
Opening Total:  52
Current Total:  52
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Wisconsin Badgers are 0-3 ATS as a road favorite during the 2011 season

Wisconsin has gotten over the shock of losing two games in a row and come in off a 42-13 win over the Minnesota Gophers as 29.5-point road favorites.  The Badgers have out-gained nine of their 10 opponents this year, as they are one of two teams in the country that average over 240 passing and rushing yards this year.  Junior running back Montee Ball certainly has a nose for the end zone, pacing the nation with 27 touchdowns runs.  Wisconsin is 0-3 ATS as a road favorite this year and the ‘over’ is 8-2 in that particular situation.

The Badgers are led offensively by senior quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads the country in pass efficiency, while also being spectacular on third downs.  He has completed 41-of-53 passes for 527 yards and 12 touchdowns with a single interception in that situation.  Offensively, the team is averaging 45.2 points in Big Ten Conference play, exactly what it averaged last year.  On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin ranks fifth in the country in allowing just 15.8 points per game.

Illinois has fallen flat in dropping four consecutive games and has scored just 42 points over that span.  The Fighting Illini have tallied a 1-3 ATS record in those contests, while all four have gone below the posted total.  It’s not all bad for the program, as the defense ranks among the best in allowing just 288.3 yards per game, while leading the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss.  Illinois is 8-5 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus campaigns and the ‘under’ is 9-5 in that particular situation.

The Fighting Illini are still going to be bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a streak of five straight years from 1988-92.  Sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is still dangerous in leading the conference in total offense, averaging 251.8 yards per game.  He has managed to thrown 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions over his last 17 games.  Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is the team’s main threat on the outside, coming into this contest averaging 113.3 receiving yards per game.

Bettors will likely back the Fighting Illini due to their 9-1 ATS mark as an underdog, while the Badgers are 3-11 ATS as a road favorite of 10.5 or more points.

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