College Football Picks Week 9: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, 10/29/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Wisconsin -7.5
Current Betting Line:  Wisconsin -7.5
Opening Total:  51
Current Total:  48.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Wisconsin Badgers will look to bounce back from their first loss when facing the Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday

Wisconsin is coming off its first loss of the season, falling 37-31 to the Michigan State Spartans as seven-point road favorites last week.  “Expect this group to bounce back, as they did late in the fourth quarter and put everything in as preparation,” commented Badgers head coach Bret Bielema.  The Badgers lead the Big Ten Conference in both scoring offense and rank second in scoring defense.  Wisconsin is also one of just two teams that averages at least 240 yards rushing and receiving this year.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the team is 6-5 ATS in October, with the ‘over’ going 8-3 in those contests.

The Badgers have a dominating running attack led by Montee Ball, who leads the nation with 19 touchdowns.  He is a Doak Walker Award candidate, leading the conference in rushing, gaining 109.7 yards per game.  Dating back to last season, he has gone over the 100-yard mark in seven-straight Big Ten affairs.  Offensively, the team has converted on 32 of its 38 red zone opportunities.  Quarterback Russell Wilson is a big part of that success, ranking second nationally in pass efficiency and third in completion percentage.

Ohio State is coming off a bye week after first-year head coach Luke Fickell picked up his first victory over a ranked opponent with a 17-7 win over Illinois.  The Buckeyes defense is once again one of the best units in the country, ranking 12th nationally in fewest points allowed at 16.2.  “We have a lot of things to play for.  We understand that,” commented Fickell during practice this week.  “Maybe they see vulnerability in Wisconsin.  I don’t know what it is.”  The series between the Buckeyes and Badgers dates back to 1913, with Ohio State possessing a 53-17-5 lead.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 24-8 ATS and the ‘under’ is 18-13 in those contests.

The Buckeyes will be playing their 90th Homecoming Game Saturday, coming in with a 64-19-5 record in that situation.  Ohio State is hoping that running back Dan Herron is ready build upon his 114-yard performance against Illinois, as it was his first action of the season due to a suspension.  He gained 91 yards and scored two touchdowns in the 31-18 loss in Madison a year ago.  Herron was a first-team All-Big Ten back last year after rushing for 1,155 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns.

Bettors will likely back the Buckeyes due to their 17-4 ATS mark at home, while the favorite is 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

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