Michigan St Spartans and Wisconsin Badgers Clash in Inaugural Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis

Big Ten Football Championship Game
#13 Michigan St Spartans vs #15 Wisconsin Badgers
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 8:15 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Wisconsin -10
Current Line: Wisconsin -9 1/2
Opening Total: 54 1/2
Current Total: 54 1/2
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -360 / Michigan St +300
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -355 / Michigan St +295

Wisconsin and Michigan face off in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. The Badgers are 9 1/2 point favorites.

Both Wisconsin and Michigan St are 10-2 as they meet in the first ever Big Ten Championship game. The winner will go to the Rose Bowl against the Pac 12 Championship game between Oregon and UCLA. The loser is likely headed to the Capital One Bowl. Wisconsin is coached by Brett Bielema and Michigan St is coached by Mark Dantonio. Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl last year after winning a tiebreaker over Michigan St and Ohio St. Michigan St hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1988.

The last time Michigan St and Wisconsin played was in late October. The Spartans won 37-31 in Lansing on a 44 yard Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game from MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol. The last 5 meetings have been decided by a total of 28 points. The Spartans lead the series 29-21. Michigan St has won 3 of the last 4 meetings. This is only the second time the two schools are meeting at a neutral site, as they played a game in Tokyo in 1993.

Last week, Michigan St was a 5.5 point favorite at Northwestern on the college football betting line. The Spartans took a 17-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. The two teams traded touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters to make the final 31-17 Michigan St. Each team had a turnover, and there were 14 combined penalties. The Spartans had 380 total yards including 214 passing yards from Cousins who threw 2 touchdowns and an interception. Cousins also had 4 carries for 25 yards. Running back Le’Veon Bell had 16 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Receiver B.J. Cunningham had 6 catches for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. Keyshawn Martin had a 57 yard punt return for a touchdown just before halftime for the Spartans. Northwestern had 370 total yards including 253 passing yards.

Michigan St is averaging 383.7 yards and 30.2 points a game. Michigan St is averaging 244.7 passing yards and 139 rushing yards a game. The Spartans have allowed 15 sacks and have 13 turnovers. The Spartans are 74/185 on third and fourth down conversions, and 38/41 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns. Michigan St has the number 3 defense in the country allowing just 266.7 yards  a game including the #8 passing defense with 164.2 yards a game. The rush defense is #11 in the country allowing 102.5 yards a game. The Spartans are allowing just 15.4 points a game, which is #6 in the country. The Spartans have forced 22 turnovers and 38 sacks. MSU opponents are 63/185 on third and fourth down conversions, and 22/30 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. The Spartans average just under 7 penalties a game for 56 yards. Michigan St has 6 defensive/special teams this season.

Cousins is 218/339 passing (64.3% completion) with 2,735 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Bell has 147 carries for 794 yards, and 10 touchdowns, along with 27 catches for 217 yards. Edwin Baker has 155 carries, 624 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Larry Caper has 30 carries, 116 yards, and 1 touchdown, and 10 catches, 86 yards, and a touchdown. Cunningham has 67 catches, 1,125 yards, and 9 touchdowns.  Martin has 53 catches, 627 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He also has 2 rushing touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown. Dion Sims only has 12 catches but 3 of them have gone for touchdowns. Kicker Dan Conroy is 43/43 on extra points, and 14/19 on field goals with a long of 50 yards. Kevin Muma made a 28 yard field goal in is only attempt of the year. Four Spartan defenders are listed as questionable or out along with 2 offensive linemen.

Last week, Wisconsin hosted Penn St in a battle to decide the Big Ten Leader’s Division title. The Badgers were 17 point favorites at home. Penn St took an early 7-0 lead, but didn’t score for the rest of the game as Wisconsin rolled to a 45-7 win. Penn St had 7 penalties and 4 turnovers in the loss. The Badgers had 450 total yards including 264 rushing yards. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also had 7 carries for 36 yards. Running back Montee Ball had 25 carries, 156 yards, and 4 touchdowns. James White had 16 carries for 73 yards. Receiver Jared Abbrederis had 7 catches, 93 yards, and a touchdown. Nick Toon had 5 catches for 42 yards, and a touchdown. Penn St had 233 total yards and 12 first downs.

Wisconsin averages 477.1 yards a game including 246.7 rushing yards a game. The Badgers score 44.8 points a game. They are ranked in the top 12 nationally in all three categories. Wisconsin passes for 230.4 yards a game. The Badgers have 8 turnovers and have allowed 20 sacks this season. Wisconsin is 85/151 on third and fourth down conversions, and 19/24 scoring in the red zone with 13 touchdowns. Wisconsin gives up 278.2 yards a game and 15.2 points a game. The Badgers allow 144.5 passing yards a  game. Wisconsin is in the top 7 nationally in all three categories. The Badgers give up 133.7 rushing yards a game. Wisconsin has forced 22 turnovers and 23 sacks this year. Badger opponents are 70/186 on third and fourth downs conversions, and 19/24 scoring in the red zone with 13 touchdowns. The Badgers have a punt return and a fumble return for touchdowns this year.

Wilson is 189/260 passing (72.7% completion) for 2,692 yards, with 28 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, plus 66 carries, 325 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He even has a touchdown catch from running back Ball. Ball has 248 carries, with 1,622 yards, with 29 touchdowns, along with 17 catches, 248 yards, with 5 touchdowns. White has 133 carries, 683 yards, and 6 touchdowns, and 15 catches for 150 yards. Toon has 52 catches, 788 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Abbrederis has 48 catches, 749 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Abbrederis has over 1,400 all-purpose yards and a punt return for a touchdown. Jacob Pedersen has 28 catches, 326 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Kickers Philip Welch and Kyle French have split the kicking duties this season. Welch is 45/46 on extra points, and 4/5 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. French is 26/27 on extra points and 3/5 on field goals with a long of 29 yards. The Badgers have 9 players listed as questionable or out including 3 defensive players and 3 offensive linemen.

Wisconsin is 7-4-1 against the spread and the total is 8-4 this season. Michigan St is 8-4 ATS and the total is 5-7 this year. The over is 8-1 in the last nine games between Michigan St and Wisconsin, and the underdog is 5-1 in the last 6. The Spartans are 4-0 ATS after allowing 20 points or less, 6-1 after a straight up win, 5-1 after a cover and against teams with winning records, 7-2 in conference games and overall, 5-11 as an underdog, 2-8 as an underdog of between 3.5 and 10 points, and 0-4 in neutral site games. The Badgers are 10-2 ATS after a cover, 13-3 after a straight up win, 11-3-1 on turf, 14-4-1 overall, 6-2 in neutral site games, 11-4-1 as a favorite, 8-3 after scoring 40 points or more, after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 31-12-1 after allowing less than 20 points, 10-4 in conference games, and 7-3 against teams with winning records.

Wisconsin has 2 losses by a total of ten points. They have won four straight games since then. Michigan St has also won 4 straight games. This line seems a little high to me as I think it will come down to the end again like the last time. I like Wisconsin to win a close game and the total to go over.

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