Free College Football Picks: Wisconsin at Ohio State Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/25/2013
The conference season is very young in the Big Ten, yet there is a very good chance that the winner of the Leaders Division of the conference will be decided in Columbus on Saturday night. These are by far the best teams in the weak division — especially with Penn State not eligible for the postseason. That adds an extra layer of intrigue to what has already become a competitive rivalry in recent years.
The biggest story in this one has to be the anticipated return of Braxton Miller as QB for Ohio State — or at least the potential return. Urban Meyer has complicated this situation by naming Miller and backup Kenny Guiton co-starters at this point despite the fact Miller has been cleared for action. Meyer says he doesn’t know who will ultimately start, though that’s hard to believe. Since Miller went down with a knee sprain in the second game, Guiton has played significant parts of three games and has amassed 12 touchdowns with just two picks in that time. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Miller would lose his job to injury or that Meyer would feel he is better in the long run with Guiton.
The good news for bettors, though, is that it doesn’t particularly matter from a betting perspective what the decision is. Both guys are clearly more than competent, and both have the confidence of their teammates. If Miller gets the nod — which I expect he will — then there is some consideration about how much he will trust his knee and whether it will limit him. If Guiton starts then we have to wonder when and how we will see Miller during the game. Either way, Ohio State has a significant edge at the position over the Badgers.
Wisconsin at Ohio State Betting Storylines
The matchup between head coaches is always significant in college football handicapping, and that is especially true when a creative guy like Urban Meyer is involved. Though new Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is a rookie in the Big Ten, he does have more insight into Meyer than some guys do — Andersen was Meyer’s defensive line coach in his last year at Utah. That was a long time ago, and much has changed for each coach since. That familiarity should ease the intimidation factor for Andersen in what is unquestionably one of the biggest games of his career, though, and that is significant for the Badgers here.
Ohio State is coming off a laughably ridiculous 76-0 win at home against Florida A&M last week. Those cupcake blowouts can often have a negative impact next time out. The team feels invincible after doing whatever they want, and they can lack focus early in their next game. Wisconsin is dramatically better than Florida A&M, so the Buckeyes could get themselves in some trouble if they believe their own hype and don’t hit the ground running.
It is dangerous to reduce the outcome of a game to one single factor. If you were going to do it here, though, it would have to be the Wisconsin secondary. Last year the Badgers lost to the Buckeyes in overtime, but they were by far the most effective of any of Ohio State’s opponents at limiting the passing game. It was the strong play of the secondary that gave Wisconsin the chance they had to win. This year, though, Wisconsin’s secondary has three new starters and a concerning lack of depth. They have faced only one solid passing team during their first four games, and they were torched by Arizona State for 352 yards. If Miller is able to establish his passing game early, he will have much more flexibility and will be tough to beat. We should know early on if Wisconsin’s secondary is up to the challenge. From a betting perspective, though, our sense of what is likely will be important.
Wisconsin at Ohio State Odds and Betting Trends
A small majority of bettors have backed the Buckeyes here, yet the line opened with them favored by 7.5 points and has widely fallen to a touchdown. That’s a sign that sharp money is tilted slightly towards the Badgers. The total sits at 54.5.
Wisconsin has covered all four of their spreads this year, and Ohio State has covered their last three. Both teams have gone “over” each of their last two totals. The Badgers have covered in just one of the last six games between the teams. The underdog is 8-3 ATS the last 11 times the teams have played.
Free College Football Picks: Wisconsin at Ohio State Predictions
This is a tough game. The Badgers had issues against Arizona State, but they showed a lot of mental toughness by bouncing back strong against Purdue last week. They can’t be written off here, but I just don’t think they have the firepower to compete with what has proven to be a good Ohio State team. They should be able to keep it close early on. However, the longer it goes, the more the Ohio State advantage grows. The Buckeyes will win, and at a spread of seven points they are very attractive.
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