Wisconsin Badgers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions: College Football Free Pick

Jose VasquezArticles, College Football, Football

Two schools that like to focus on their running games, Coach James Franklin and the No. 21 Penn State Nittany Lions (-8) are set to take on the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium. Kickoff for this vital conference game is set for 12:00 p.m. ET and ABC is in line to broadcast the action.

Betting Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Wisconsin Badgers

In this Saturday Big Ten game, Penn State is projected as the favorite and the team’s currently giving up 8 points. The Badgers are also receiving +260 moneyline odds while the Nittany Lions are -340. Oddsmakers have placed the over/under (O/U) at 53 points, and if one team can catch a lucky break early, it will probably lead to a worthy live betting scenario.

The game’s total has swung upward after originally being set at 51.5. The opening spread of -8 has yet to change.

The Badgers are down 1.0 unit so far in 2018 and 2-7 against the spread (ATS). The team’s posted an Over-Under record of 5-4.

The Nittany Lions have lost 5.0 units for moneyline bettors this season. They’re 5-4 ATS and the over has hit in six of their games.

The Badgers have gone 6-3 straight up (SU), including 4-2 SU against conference opponents. The Nittany Lions are 6-3 SU overall and 3-3 SU in conference play.

These two conference foes did not get a chance to play one another last season.

The Badgers are coming off a resounding 31-17 victory over Rutgers last week where their defense allowed the Scarlet Knights to pass for 261 yards. Raheem Blackshear was on a different level for the Scarlet Knights in that one with 38 rushing yards on 10 attempts. On the offensive side, the Badgers completed 12-of-23 passes for 156 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Alex Hornibrook went seven-for-16 for 92 yards and two interceptions while Jack Coan completed five-of-seven for 64 yards and one touchdown. Jonathan Taylor (208 rushing yards on 27 attempts, three TDs) and Taiwan Deal (77 yards on nine carries) led the ground attack while Danny Davis III (six receptions, 60 yards, one TD) and Taylor (three catches, 33 yards) handled the receiving duties in the win.

Penn State just dropped a brutal 42-7 game to Michigan. The defensive unit allowed the Wolverines to kill the clock by rushing for 259 yards on 52 attempts, including three rush TDs. Karan Higdon put up a productive outing for Michigan, accounting for 132 rushing yards and a score on 20 attempts. For Penn State, Trace McSorley completed five-of-13 passes for 83 yards and one interception. McSorley (-6 rushing yards on 12 attempts) and Tommy Stevens (52 yards on 10 carries, one TD) handled the running game as Pat Freiermuth (three receptions, 51 yards) and Jahan Dotson (two catches, 29 yards) led the pass-catching corps in the loss.

Wisconsin has run the ball on 64.6 percent of its offensive possessions this year while Penn State has a rush percentage of 57.6 percent. The Badgers have run for 273.0 yards/game (including 267.0 per game versus Big Ten opponents) and have 23 scores on the ground this year. The Nittany Lions are totaling 207.9 rush yards per game (193.0 in conference) and have 28 total rushing TDs.

The Badgers offense has averaged 174.2 yards in the air overall (161.7 per game against conference opposition) and has 14 passing TDs so far. The Nittany Lions have produced 221.2 pass yards per game (206 in the Big 10) and have 15 total pass scores.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin appears to have the upper hand in both facets. The team has allowed 159.4 rush yards and 193.3 pass yards per game. The Penn State D has allowed 216.3 yards per game to opposing passers and 172.2 yards per game on the ground. The Nittany Lions are giving up an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 4.40 to opposing QBs, while the Badgers have allowed a 5.20 ANY/A.

Passing-wise, Coan has amassed 64 yards on the year. The signal-caller has completed 5-of-7 attempts with one scores through the air and has yet to throw an interception. He has a 12.00 adjusted net yards per pass attempt overall, although that number is 6.59 over the past two games.

The Badgers will probably try to control tempo by feeding their running backs early and often. Along with Danny Davis III (210 yards, two TDs), Jonathan Taylor (1,317 rush yards, 11 rush TDs, 52 receiving yards) and Garrett Groshek (234 rush yards, one receiving TD) have been focal points in the offensive gameplans for Wisconsin.

Trace McSorley has completed 116-of-219 passes for 1,544 yards, 11 TDs and four INTs for Penn State. His ANY/A stands at 6.34 for the year and 3.04 across his past two games.

The Nittany Lions should also look to control the clock by turning to their backfield. In addition to KJ Hamler (421 receiving yards, five receiving TDs), Miles Sanders (786 rush yards, eight rush TDs) and Tommy Stevens (40 rush yards, one rush TD) have gotten a multitude of looks recently.

Wisconsin Badgers at Penn State Nittany Lions Bedding Prediction

SU Winner: Penn State, ATS Winner: Penn State, O/U: Over

Team Betting Trends

  • The Over/Under for Wisconsin’s last game was set at 52.5. The under cashed in the team’s 31-17 victory over Rutgers.
  • Wisconsin has produced 6.4 yards per carry over its last three games and 6.2 over its last two.
  • Penn State has averaged 3.6 yards per carry over its last three outings and only 2.9 over its last two.
  • The Penn State offense has lost eight fumbles this season while Wisconsin has lost six.
  • Over its last three games, Wisconsin is 1-2 ATS and the under cashed in two of those three.
  • The Over/Under for Penn State’s last outing was 49. The O/U pushed in the 42-7 defeat to Michigan.
  • In its last three games, Penn State is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
  • The Badgers offense has recorded two pass plays of 40 yards or more, while the Nittany Lions have accounted for seven such plays.
  • The Wisconsin defense has allowed six pass plays of 40 or more yards, while Penn State has given up three such plays.
  • The Wisconsin offense has created 21 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while Penn State has created 16 such runs.
  • The Badgers defense has allowed 11 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while the Nittany Lions have given up 12 such runs.
  • The Penn State defensive unit has registered 29 sacks on the year while Wisconsin has just 12.