Over/Under 10 Wins () vs Wisconsin Badgers ()Date : 08/31/2018
Time : First Game: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ Wisconsin Badgers 9:00 PM
Location : Camp Randall Stadium
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 10 Wins vs Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers are constantly ridiculed for not playing any tough teams in the Big Ten East and having an easy path to a New Years Six Bowl and a conference championship appearance and although that might be true the Badgers have been one of the most consistent teams in college football as they have not missed a bowl game since 2001. Wisconsin has relied on a hard nose defense that stops the run well but things may be different this year considering Paul Chryst lost 8 starters from their 2017 Orange Bowl champion squad. The offense has been a ground and pound unit over the last few years but this year they could insert a passing game as well as the Badgers return 10 starters with one of those guys being an experienced QB. Wisconsin will be battle-tested this year as they will see some tough crossover matchups but if they can take care of them they should find themselves in the Big Ten championship once again. The one thing that Wisconsin has not been successful with over the last few years is their recruiting classes as they fail to lure in some of the big name recruits that their rivals tend to get. Wisconsin was once again not in the top 25 in terms of recruiting classes as they had the 9th ranked signing group in the Big Ten with only one 4-star recruit committed. That one 4-star signee might be an important one as LB Jack Sanborn could step into a potential starting role this season given the departures at the linebacker position.
Over/Under 10 Wins's Latest Performance :
Wisconsin had one of the best regular seasons in college football last year as they finished the year at 12-0 but unfortunately, the Badgers ran into a hungry Ohio State team in the Big Ten championship which gave them their only loss of the season. Wisconsin returns a ton of key players on both sides of the ball which but given their schedule this year oddsmakers have lowered their standards and have set the over/under at 10 wins, something they have conquered the last 4 years.
Tough Road Slate
The Wisconsin Badgers may have gone undefeated last regular season because they didn’t see the schedule that the Big Ten East faces year in and year out but this year will be a different story for the Badgers. Wisconsin will have one of the toughest road schedules in the Big Ten this season as they will have to travel to Big Ten West competitor Iowa as well as Michigan and Penn State, two of the better teams in college football. Luckily for Wisconsin, they will not be upset in their home stadium as they will face Nebraska, Illinois, Rutgers, and Minnesota. The non-conference schedule should also be a walk in the park for the Badgers as they will get to host Western Kentucky, New Mexico, and BYU. If Wisconsin saw this slate last year and still lost in the Big Ten championship they would have found themselves in the college football playoffs. Even if Wisconsin gets swept by Michigan and Penn State expect the Badgers to be in the Big Ten championship yet again.
Wisconsin Badgers's Latest Performance :
Wisconsin has been a ground and pound team over the last couple of years as they have had some great running backs roll through Madison but they might be able to open up their air game a little more this year with a veteran at the QB spot. Alex Hornibrook was really effective in the opportunities he got last season as the junior threw for 2644 yards and 25 touchdowns. Hornibrook will need to keep his turnover ratio down as he threw 15 interceptions last season but if the Miami game was any sign of improvement the Badgers will be in luck (258 yards & 4 TDs). The bread and butter of this Badger football team resides at the running back position and last year they had a freshman who looked like a 3-year starter in Jonathan Taylor. Taylor wasn’t a big-time recruit (3-star) but the now sophomore didn’t let that factor into his playing abilities as the 6’0 RB ran for 1977 yards and 13 TDs. The stud youngster finished in the top 6 for Heisman voting but that should only improve in 2018 as he could possibly win the award. The wide receiver spot should be as good as ever for the Badgers as they will return Quintez Cephus who missed the last few games of the season due to injury. Although Cephus missed 5 games he still was the leader of the Badgers as he was #1 in TDs with 6, #1 in YPC with 16.7, and #2 in yards with 501, those numbers should only grow with a healthy season. Cephus will be joined by A.J. Taylor and Danny Davis who combined for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The Badgers will have to replace 8 starters on their defensive unit but luckily for them, the few pieces they do return all played huge roles last season for Chryst. The two most important pieces for the Badger defense returns as linebackers Ryan Connolly and T.J. Edwards will be back for another year. Ryan Connolly led the team in tackles with 88 as well as 11 TFL but Edwards wasn’t far behind him as he sat 2nd on the team with 81 tackles and matched his TFL with 11 himself. Edwards was not only felt in the run game but also through the air as the senior led the team with 4 interceptions and contributed another 7 pass deflections. Connolly and Edwards will be joined by the sack leader from 2017 in Andrew Van Ginkel who was really good in his reserve role last season as he had 6.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. The biggest question mark for the Badgers will reside in their secondary as they will have to find replacements for Nick Nelson (21 pass deflections) and Natrell Jamerson (2 INTs & 10 pass deflections).
Player To Watch
Kendric Pryor, WR, Soph.
The Wisconsin Badgers may have lost their star tight end Troy Fumagalli to the NFL but that might be something positive as they return 4 wide receivers who are more than capable of taking over through the air. Pryor stepped into a starting role when Cephus went down with an injury last season and the sophomore was solid as he compiled 179 yards and 1 TD. The growth of Pryor throughout last season and into this upcoming year may prompt Chryst to run more 10 personal and essentially make their offense less predictable. Expect Pryor to contribute more in his second season as he cracks the 300-yard mark. Pryor could also be a guy who steps into a return role this season given the departure of both their kick returner and punt returner.
How Over/Under 10 Wins & Wisconsin Badgers Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 10 Wins – Even
Under 10 Wins -120
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
8/31- Western Kentucky- W
9/8- New Mexico- W
9/15- BYU- W
9/22- @ Iowa- W
10/6- Nebraska- W
10/13- @ Michigan- L
10/20- Illinois- W
10/27- @ Northwestern- W
11/3- Rutgers- W
11/10- @ Penn State- W
11/17- @ Purdue- W
11/24- Minnesota- W
Overall Record: 11-1
Against The Spread Selection: Over 10 Wins - Even
My reason for the pick :
This is personally my lock of the preseason as I personally think there is no way the Badgers lose more than 2 games given the star power in their offense and the key pieces they return on defense. I think Wisconsin will lose on the road against Michigan as that will be their true first test but I see Chryst rallying his troops and having them ready for Penn State. The offense will be able to open up their playbook and run a lot more things now that they have a veteran QB as well as some playmakers at the wide receiver spot and that makes this team a whole lot more dangerous. Chryst will have his team in the Big Ten championship once again as well as in contention for either the college football playoff or the Rose Bowl. Take Wisconsin over the 10 win total.