Big Ten Showdown Odds: (8) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (4) Michigan Wolverines

Jim Harbaugh-michigan-2015(8) Wisconsin-(4) Michigan
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Spread: MI -6.5
Total: 22.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Wisconsin Badgers are setting the NCAA and the Big Ten on fire. Wisconsin looks to improve to 5-0 today with a win over vaunted Michigan. The Badgers are ranked No. 8 in the nation and Michigan is No. 4. NCAA football oddsmakers have set the line 6.5-points in favor of hosting Michigan with a low over/under of just 22.5. This defensive battle will air on ABC at 3:30 EDT.

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Wisconsin has not knocked off nobodies to get this far: Week 1 saw the Badgers derail LSU and Week 4 was a 30-6 drubbing of the then-No. 8 ranked Michigan State Spartans. Last week in that victory, Alex Hornibrook threw 16 of 26 for 195 yards with a TD and an interception, but the Badgers ran for another 122 yards with Corey Clement scoring both rushing TDs.

Wide receiver Jazz Peavy led the team in receiving yards with 96 on four catches. Wisconsin averaged 12.2 yards per pass play and it got 3.0 yards per carry on its 41 rushing attempts. Hornibrook was not the greatest, he had a lost fumble and was sacked twice.

Wisconsin was also tackled seven times for loss, but its defense was all over MSU.

The Badgers sacked MSU QB Tyler O’Connor four times and had seven tackles for loss on the Michigan State offense. D’Cota Dixon had a team-high seven tackles (four) solo, a sack and one tackle for loss. TJ Watt had 2.5 of the four sacks and six total tackles (three solo). Five MSU players finished with five tackles or more and 22 of the 57 tackles were assisted. Wisconsin’s defense has been very strong, which is why this betting total today is so paltry.

Hornibrook has fared well since replacing Wisconsin’s opening week starting QB Bart Houston. His first game inserted into the lineup he was 5 of 5 for 61 yards, and he came back against Georgia State to throw 8 of 12 for 122 yards.

Last week was his highest usage going 16 of 26 for 195 yards, but he has been strong every week. His completion percentage on the season is 67.4 and he has been good for 8.79 yards per attempt with three TDs and two INTs. Most impressively, he is only being sacked 0.67 times per game, and his raw QBR is 99.5.

Michigan is 4-0 after knocking off Hawaii, UCF, Colorado and Penn State. PSU opened Big Ten play for the Wolverines, and it was a 49-10 breeze to its first conference victory of the season.

But Wisconsin will present a host of challenges none of its other opponents have.

Michigan

Michigan held Penn State to just 191 yards on the game with Saquon Barkley struggling to move the ball and gaining just 59 yards on 15 attempts (3.9 yards per). A similar effort will be needed to slow Wisconsin backs Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale and Bradrick Shaw.

All three average four yards per carry or better, with Clement having rushed for 251 yards through four games with a team-high five rushing TDs. Michigan is allowing just 13.8 points per game this season, ranking No. 12 in the nation while scoring 52 per game itself (No. 4). The Wolverines have rushed for an average of 229.8 yards per game, ranking No. 28 in the NCAA. The leading rushers have been De’Veon Smith and Chris Evans. Both have rushed for over 200 yards on the season and have five TDs between them.

Evans is averaging 7.3 yards per carry and has a 43-yard TD run on the season, while Smith is good for 6.6 per with a 42-yard TD of his own. Ty Isaac has been a good third down back with 150 yards on 33 carries and a pair of TDs.

Karan Higdon is the fourth back to get touches with 22 carries for 145 yards and three TDs. Michigan has 15 rushing TDs on the season. In the air, Amara Darboh and Jake Butt have both been dominant with 36 catches between them and both having caught for 248 and 234 yards, respectively.

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The Wolverines have nine passing TDs on the year and are averaging 11.8 yards per attempt.

Kicker Kenny Allen is 4 of 6 on FGA this season, but his longest make has been from 39-yards and he missed his only 40-plus yard FGA of the season. He is a perfect 23 of 23 on PATs.

Last week against PSU he did not attempt a field goal given the Wolverines were having little trouble just plowing into the end zone. Michigan and Wisconsin are going to attack one another on the ground this game, and time of possession and third-down conversions will prove as crucial as ever in this defensive battle.

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