The NCAA football schedule this week ramps up, as the Wisconsin Badgers and Rutgers Scarlet Knights dive in to the thick of Big Ten Conference play. The teams will meet on Saturday (noon ET) at Camp Randall Stadium.
After opening as a 14.5-point favorite, Wisconsin is now down to -12.5 (-110). Rutgers is +12.5 (-110) on the spread, while the projected total has jumped from 40.5 to 47 (-115 Over, -105 Under).
Can Wisconsin hold serve at home? Or are the Badgers ripe for an upset? Read on as we break down the Wisconsin vs Rutgers lines in our game preview.
Location: Camp Randall Stadium; Madison, WI
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 4-0-1 against the spread this season. Notably, the Scarlet Knights have lost five straight road games. The total has gone Under in four of their last six games. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Badgers are 2-2 ATS this season. The Badgers have won 10 of their last 13 games at home. The total has also gone Under in six of their last nine contests. Notably, the total has gone Over in 10 of the Badgers’ last 14 conference games. That’s important to remember when assessing the Wisconsin vs Rutgers lines.
Scarlet Knights Surging
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights bounced back from their first loss by pounding FCS program Wagner 52-3 on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights outgained Wagner 437-106. Aaron Young’s 3-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds remaining helped the Scarlet Knights cover the 46.5-point spread.
Projected for just 4.0 wins, Rutgers has already matched its extremely low expectations. Now, the competition picks up a few notches as the Scarlet Knights dive in to Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights are already 1-1 in conference play, having lost 31-7 to Michigan on Sept. 23. It was the only game this season the Scarlet Knights have not covered. Keep that in mind when analyzing the Wisconsin vs Rutgers lines.
Despite their 52-point outburst against Wagner, offense remains a concern. Junior Gavin Wimsatt has completed only 53.8% of his passes and is averaging 146.6 passing yards through five games. The Scarlet Knights are tied for 59th nationally in scoring offense, with 30.8 points per game.
Notably, the Scarlet Knights have lost six of their last seven games against Big Ten opponents. The only win during that span came last season against Indiana, 24-17.
So Far, So Good Under Fickell
The Wisconsin Badgers improved to 3-1 after thumping Purdue 38-17 in their Big Ten opener on Sept. 22. The Badgers, six-point favorites, jumped to a 24-3 halftime lead and improved to 2-2 ATS.
Their formula for success was no secret: the Badgers rushed for 195 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, with Braelon Allen (116 yards) leading the way. But the Badgers didn’t come out unscathed, as running back Chez Mellusi was carted off late in the win with a leg injury.
Expectations were high for the Badgers (projected for 8.5 wins), and through four games under Luke Fickell, they seem up to task. Wisconsin has scored 30-plus points in each of its three wins. The only loss came Sept. 9 against No. 13 Washington State, 31-22. The Badgers have three of their next four games at home, with a trip to Illinois (Oct. 21) sandwiched in between.
As the Badgers continue their climb up the college football standings, they are currently +800 to win the Big Ten. That’s not much different from their opening odds of +900. While they still seem like a bit of a longshot, the Badgers are clearly the best team in the Big Ten West. That’ll be enough to get them on the doorstep of a championship.
Handicapping the Game
Rutgers is off to a surprisingly strong start under Greg Schiano, but is it too early to buy in on the Scarlet Knights? Sure, the record is impressive. The Scarlet Knights, remember, were projected to win only four games in the regular season. They’ve already matched that thanks to a defense that’s allowed only 33 points in wins.
But Wisconsin is a step up in weight class. It’s no wonder the Badgers are a double-digit favorite. Thanks to SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai, who’s completed 66.4% of his passes, they’re balanced offensively. The Badgers should take care of business at home, though they’ll need a big effort on the defensive end to cover the college football betting line of 12.5 points.
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