Western Michigan vs Wisconsin Cotton Bowl Lines, Free Pick & TV Info
When: Monday, Jan. 2, 1 PM ET
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Opening NCAA Football Lines: Wisconsin -7.5 (52)
Why Bet on Team WMU?Head coach P.J. Fleck led Western Michigan to a 13-0 record and the MAC title this season. A third win against a Power 5 team — the Broncos beat two Big Ten teams in September — will make this a team to remember for a long time to come. WMU has a 15-game winning streak, second only to Alabama (25), the only other undefeated team in the FBS.
No player in FBS history has more receiving yards that Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis. The future NFL pass-catcher is a focal point for the Broncos’ air attack. He is also part of a senior class that bought into Fleck’s unorthodox leadership style. Davis is the only player in FBS history with 300-plus catches, 5,000-plus yards and 50-plus receiving touchdowns.
Zach Terrell has been fantastic at quarterback this season, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 3,376 yards, 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He’s the only quarterback in the country to throw at least 250 passes (he threw 349) with fewer than four interceptions. Then there’s Jarvion Franklin at running back. At 6-foot- 1 and 228 pounds, Franklin will wear down a defense, and he wore enough down this season to finish with 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Western Michigan, which finished minus-16 in turnover margin in Fleck’s first season, enters the Cotton Bowl No. 2 nationally in turnover margin at plus-19. The Broncos have forced 26 turnovers (15 interceptions and 11 fumbles) and have lost the ball just seven times (four fumbles and three interceptions).
The Broncos and Badgers will be making their first appearances at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and meet for only the fifth time in series history. All four meetings have occurred at Madison with Wisconsin holding a 3-1 advantage. The last meeting was in 2000, a 19-7 win for the Badgers.
Why Bet on Wisconsin?Wisconsin has put together a season few pundits, if anybody, saw coming. The Badgers came into the season facing a daunting schedule that saw them playing LSU, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State — all within their first six games. The Badgers were picked to finish third in the Big Ten West, and a 7-5 season didn’t seem unreasonable given such a tough schedule. But the Badgers reached the Big Ten Championship Game, blowing a big lead in losing to Penn State.
Running back Corey Clement has been a workhorse and leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. Although his yards-per- carry average is down from earlier in his career, he has willingly taken the load for tough yards to keep the chains moving. The Badgers lead the FBS in time of possession thanks to a solid defense and an offense that loves to run the ball. The Badgers rank fourth in the FBS in scoring defense (15.5 points per game) and love to create turnovers. UW is tied for ninth nationally in turnover margin at plus-11. UW has forced 27 turnovers, including 21 interceptions.
The Badgers rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (4th, 15.5 ppg), total defense (7th, 298.3 ypg), rushing defense (2nd, 96.9 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (9th, 106.8). Wisconsin also ranks No. 3 in third-down defense (26.8%) and has allowed opponents to score touchdowns on just 42.9% of their red-zone trips, the No. 5 mark nationally.
UW has won 10 of its last 12 games away from Camp Randall Stadium, dating back to 2015. Both losses (at Michigan and vs. Penn State) came to teams also playing in New Year’s Six bowls.
The Badgers’ run of 15 straight bowl games is the longest active streak in the Big Ten and is tied for the sixth-longest active run in the FBS. Wisconsin has ended each of the last two seasons with a win, downing Auburn in the Outback Bowl to close the 2014 season and topping USC in the Holiday Bowl to finish off the 2015 campaign.
UW will be making their second appearance at AT&T Stadium. Wisconsin lost to Alabama, 35-17, in the AdvoCare Classic to kick off the season in 2015. This game will mark Wisconsin’s seventh matchup this season with a team ranked among the top 12 of the Associated Press poll.
Western Michigan vs Wisconsin Cotton Bowl Free Pick:Broncos are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games. Under is 5-1 in Badgers last 6 non-conference games.
Take WMU and the over on NCAA football odds.