Week 4 of the college football season provides two ranked matchups at neutral sites, and no prediction is as divisive as the Notre Dame-Wisconsin prediction for their afternoon game at Soldier Field. The No. 12 ranked Irish are undefeated but hardly looked like world-beaters, squeaking by a sub-par Florida State team, mid-major Toledo, and a solid but not impressive Purdue squad. Notre Dame faces off against Wisconsin, a team that has yet to establish anything resembling an offensive identity.
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 Notre Dame-Wisconsin prediction for Week 4 of the college football season.
NOTRE DAME-WISCONSIN PREDICTION:
#12 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. #18 Wisconsin (2-1)
GAME: 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
MONEYLINE: Wisconsin -230 ML, Notre Dame +180 ML
SPREAD: Wisconsin -5.5
TOTAL: 45 pts
NOTRE DAME-WISCONSIN PUBLIC TRENDS:
Wisconsin ML: 22% handle, 16% bets
Wisconsin Spread: 25 handle, 29% bets
Over: 36% handle, 54% bets
Narratives abound in FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff on Saturday.
An 11 a.m. local time start at Chicago’s Soldier Field, Notre Dame and Wisconsin will face off in what is the Jack Coan revenge game. Coan, if you’ve forgotten, was the starting QB for Wisconsin in 2019 before losing the job to Graham Mertz in 2020 and transferring to South Bend. He will have something to prove on Saturday afternoon, as will Notre Dame, who stumbled through their first three games of the season.
Their 41-38 win over Florida State in the opener looked good until Florida State lost to Jacksonville State and Wake Forest. The Irish struggled with Toledo, needing a last-second touchdown from Coan to win it, and then looked better but still had issues putting away Purdue last weekend.
I’m fully expecting Notre Dame’s offense to look similarly sluggish on Saturday. They’ve been better than their numbers indicate on the ground (sacks counting as negative rushing yards is still the dumbest thing in sports) but they haven’t been great and Wisconsin’s run defense is as stout as any in the country. That means this is going to fall on the shoulders of Jack Coan and … yeah, that’s not ideal.
On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin has been chewing up yards on the ground behind Chez Mellusi. Mertz was fine in a blowout win over Eastern Michigan. He was not impressive in an opening loss to Penn State at home. If the Badgers are going to move the ball, it is going to be in the run game, where Notre Dame has struggled defensively.
That chews up the clock. Combine that with the struggles I expect Notre Dame to have offensively, and I do think the under is the play here despite the fact that it has come down from 46.5 since it opened. Personally, I think that betting the first half under (23.5) is more interesting. There have been a total of seven points scored in the first quarter of Wisconsin games this season. They played a scoreless first half against Penn State. Notre Dame has gotten off to slow starts the last two games.
This is going to be an ugly, defensive battle. Take the under. And if you need to take a side, take the points. Five and a half is a lot for a slugfest.