The first thing you need to know for a Michigan-Wisconsin betting prediction is that these teams have been trending in the exact opposite direction this season. Jim Harbaugh entered this season on the hot seat. Through four games, he’s climbed all the way to 14th in the polls with three dominant wins and a victory over Rutgers last Saturday. Wisconsin, on the other hand, started the year as a top 15 team with Big Ten title hopes and fell off a cliff. They have scored all of 13 points against a pair of FBS opponents, and Graham Mertz has, in the process, made the decision to bench Jack Coan for him look silly.
Case in point: Mertz threw more touchdown passes to Notre Dame defensive backs in the fourth quarter last Saturday than he has thrown to Wisconsin pass-catchers all season long. That’s not good!
Longtime college sports writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 and The Field of 12 Network is here to break down the tantalizing matchup and provide his Michigan-Wisconsin prediction for Week 5 of the college football season.
WEEK 5: WEEKEND GUIDE
#14 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (4-0) vs. WISCONSIN BADGERS (1-2)
GAME: 12:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
MONEYLINE: Michigan (+102), Wisconsin (-125)
SPREAD: Wisconsin (-2)
MICHIGAN vs. WISCONSIN PUBLIC TRENDS
Wisconsin ML: 42% money, 33% bets
Wisconsin Spread: 36% money, 33% bets
Over: 30% money, 47% bets
The key to Michigan’s offense is their running attack. They are the pinnacle of thunder and lightening on the ground this season. Blake Corum has 475 yards and seven touchdowns through four games. Hassan Haskins has 322 yards and six touchdowns. Combined, they are the engine for the best rushing attack in college football.
The problem is that Wisconsin’s strength is their run defense. Do you trust Cade McNamara to be able to move the ball through the air in Camp Randall? Do you trust the Wolverines to be able to put together drives against a team as good as the Badgers are defensively if their running game is limited? That’s going to be the entire key to this game.
On the other side of the ball, the way to beat Michigan is through the air, but that requires us to have any faith in Mertz. I do not. As Joshua Perry from the JP and Hack Show on the Field of 12 Network put it, “when the game is on Graham Mertz’s arm, Wisconsin cannot win.” That’s what we’re looking at on Saturday.
Look, I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sold on Michigan. And I do think that Wisconsin is a little bit better than what the public thinks right now. That 41-13 loss last weekend? The Badgers led heading into the fourth quarter.
I do not think Wisconsin should be favored in this matchup, but I get it. I don’t love taking small road dogs, but I think that’s the side I prefer here.
To me, the better bet is the under. I do not expect either team to have success moving the ball on Saturday, and I fully expect an ugly, throwback Big Ten battle that is played in the teens.