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Michigan Wolverines vs. Wisconsin Badgers Point Spread - Pick

Michigan Wolverines (8-2 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (10-0 SU, 6-4 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 12PM EST
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin
TV: Fox

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MICH +7.5/WIS -7.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5

The Michigan Wolverines come to Madison on Saturday for a high-stakes Big Ten matchup with the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers. Both teams won their last game to set up this matchup. Michigan took care of business against Maryland on Saturday, posting a 35-10 win for their third victory in a row to go to 8-2. They could really add a big nugget to their resumes this week against the 10-0 Badgers, who beat Iowa on Saturday, 38-14. Wisconsin looks to add a good team to their record, as they've had it pretty easy schedule-wise so far this season. Can Michigan score the big road win or will the Badgers start to serve notice that they are for real?

Wisconsin has done everything asked of them, so getting to 10-0 is a big accomplishment. But it will be this game and the Big Ten title game that ends up being evaluated the heaviest. With non-conference wins over Utah State, Florida Atlantic, and BYU, combined with conference wins over Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, they have managed to not play some of the heavy-hitters in the Big Ten. But what they do well could very well translate to this level and beyond. They run the heck out the ball and play good balanced defense.

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook didn't have his best game against Iowa and depended on the run-game, which has been excellent this season. Hornibrook threw three picks on just 135 yards passing. He has 12 picks on the season and on Saturday, two of them were returned for touchdowns. He did hit Kendric Pryor and AJ Taylor for scores and works well with TE Troy Fumagalli and WR Danny Davis. Losing WR Quintez Cephus will be costly. But it's the run-game that does most of the heavy lifting on this side of the ball, led by one of the best in the nation this season in Jonathan Taylor, who has 1525 yards on the ground. Against Iowa, he was big with 157 yards, aided by hard-running Bradrick Shaw, as well as Pryor, who added a 25-yard end-around. This offense averages over 36 points a game.

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The Wisconsin defense was again in solid form, which could be used in this game. With all of Iowa's points coming on defensive scores, the Wisconsin defense held Iowa to a mere 66 yards of total offense. This season, they are giving up 13.4 points a game. They have been dominant against both the pass and the run. In addition to being stout, they are also well-versed in making big plays—both from the pass-rush and in the turnover category. Among their better playmakers are LB Garrett Dooley, DE Alec James, and LB Andrew Van Ginkel, who all really get after the quarterback. Also, S Joe Ferguson, LB TJ Edwards, and others have been helpful in getting turnovers. This is a defense that has seen a lot go their way this season.

Michigan has looked good in their last three games, also showing consistency with wins by the scores of a 35-14, 33-10, and then 35-10 against Maryland on Saturday. They went through a rough period, losing to Michigan State and Penn State, but appear to be in decent form and ready to attack the stretch part of the season with gusto. While a spot in the CFP is out, there are still some big things out there for the Wolverines if they keep winning and catch a couple breaks. In a lot of ways, they are similar to Wisconsin in that they lean more on the run than the pass, while relying a lot on a good defense that is balanced and makes plays. They just haven't done it as well as Wisconsin, while also playing a lot tougher schedule.

Michigan is rolling with Brandon Peters at quarterback now and he hasn't been bad, with two TD passes on Saturday. Zach Gentry and Eddie McDoom each caught touchdown passes. Chris Evans ran for two touchdown passes, with Karan Higdon (questionable) adding some productivity. Henry Poggi ran one in, as well. Against a very tough Wisconsin defense, we will see what they can come up with and how Peters will fare facing his first really tough assignment as far as opposing defenses go. He looked good is spots against Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland, but this is a whole different level of difficulty.

The Wolverines defense has been pretty tough this season. They've given up over 20 points this season only once and that was in their loss to Penn State. All told, they are giving up just over 16 points per game on average and usually it's a lot less. Their pass defense is the top-ranked group in the country, as opposing quarterbacks have averaged 144 yards against this "D." And they aren't much worse against the run. Chase Winovich, Devin Bush, and Khaleke Hudson have gotten after quarterbacks this season. It's the most-compelling part of this matchup, as Wisconsin will be facing a defense this week unlike anything they've really dealt with this season.

Wisconsin's efforts this season come down to this. A chance to beat Michigan and a spot in the conference title game are the only chances they have this season to score a really meaningful win. They are really the Big Ten's best chance to get some representation in the College Football Playoff, with every other team having two losses. These teams are the same in many ways, with strong run-games and hard-hitting defenses. I think Wisconsin has been better, but I see Michigan keeping it close enough to beat the spread.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Michigan Wolverines plus 7.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Michigan vs. Wisconsin game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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