The Big Ten schedule opens with a potential conference championship game preview as defending Big Ten champion Michigan State hosts one of the favorites in the West Division in Wisconsin. The Spartans, who lost a lot of talent to the NFL off last year’s College Football Playoff team, are early 5-point favorites on college football lines for the Week 4 matchup.
Brief Report on the Wisconsin at Michigan State Week 4 Odds, Free Pick & TV Info
Wisconsin vs Michigan State Historic Betting Trends
It’s not possible for every team from the East Division to face one from the West. Thus these clubs didn’t play in 2015 as the Badgers finished second in the Big Ten West behind Iowa. MSU beat out Ohio State and Michigan for the East Division title. The last meeting between UW and MSU was in 2012 in Madison. The Spartans won 16-13 in overtime. Andrew Maxwell threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler in overtime, giving Michigan State the win and snapping Wisconsin’s 21-game home winning streak at the time. The Spartans have now won four of the last six against Wisconsin, though that was their first win at Camp Randall since 2001. None of the key players from back then are around these days.
Why Bet on Michigan State
The Spartans won the Big Ten title last season before being blown out 38-0 by Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal. Several key position players are gone off last year’s team, but the Spartans have shown their consistency in winning at least 11 games in five of the last six seasons.
Sparty has to replace one of the best quarterbacks in school history in Connor Cook. Cook passed for more yards and touchdowns than any other player in program history and won 34 games. Tyler O’Connor is the favorite to take over for Cook and was the most consistent QB in spring practice, ahead of Damion Terry. During the team’s spring scrimmage, O’Connor completed 10 of his 16 throws for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also performed well enough in Cook’s absence to help Michigan State beat Ohio State last season in Columbus.
The defense lost some key pieces but returning linebackers Riley Bullough, Jon Reschke, Ed Davis, Chris Frey, Andrew Dowell, and Shane Jones make up a very deep unit. Bullough and Reschke are returning starters and both were top five on the team in tackles last season. Bullough finished last season with 106 tackles, which led the team and Reschke finished with 75 tackles, which was fifth most on the team.
Why Bet on Wisconsin
The Badgers bring back what should be one of the Big Ten’s best running backs in Corey Clement. Clement ran for more than 900 yards two seasons ago as Melvin Gordon’s backup and seemed poised to become the next great Wisconsin tailback last season. But injuries and other issues kept him from ever really getting going in 2015. He’s healthy now and the Badgers as usual will have a huge offensive line.
UW has to replace QB Joel Stave. Stave has been the starting quarterback at UW for the last three years, and for half of the season before that. He had a long and memorable career at UW, winning 31 games, the most in school history. He’s second in both career yards (7,635) and touchdowns (48), he ranks fourth in completion percentage (59.5%) and threw for 200 yards in a single game more times than any other QB in school history (18).
Senior Bart Houston is the likely starter under center, thought redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook still could give him a run for his money in fall camp. Houston stepped in for an injured Joel Stave last year at Illinois and threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns, along with a pair of interceptions, before receding into the shadows. Hornibrook had moments of brilliance in spring and fall camps last season, but in- game experience is highly valuable.
My Free Pick
The quarterbacks are a bit of a wash, but MSU has a better defense so it goes to Madison and wins again on NCAA lines.