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Utah State Aggies vs. Wisconsin Badgers Point Spread - Pick

Utah State Aggies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Friday, September 1, 2017 at 9PM EST
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: USU +28.5/WIS -28.5
Over/Under Total: 48

The Utah State Aggies come to Madison in week one to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. After a big season, the Badgers, ranked 9th to open the season, are looking to big things in 2017. They won 11 games and scored some big wins along the way in a big '16 campaign. Head coach Paul Chryst looks to have this program back in the spotlight and this season is really important for the program. Utah State certainly has their work cut out, especially coming off their worst season in a number of years. After making 6 straight bowl games, they fell precipitously to a 3-9 record and Utah St. coach Matt Wells faces a big challenge this season.

You have to sometimes wonder why teams like Utah St. would schedule games like this. For a team trying to find its bearings in the Mountain West, it's unclear how a road game against a Big Ten power to open the season is in any way helpful. And this particular matchup is really problematic, especially as Utah State trots out a bunch of youngsters on both lines. It could get ugly along both lines of scrimmage.

Utah State quarterback Kent Myers returns for another season. He is tough, capable, and experienced. He's just handcuffed by a lack of support, especially by those who are supposed to protect him. He was on his back a lot in the Aggies' tough 2016 season and was unable to showcase the full scope of his talents. Myers can run the ball and is dangerous in that context, but without protection, his passing numbers will continue to suffer. They need to find 4 new starters up-front and that doesn't bode well, particularly against a team like Wisconsin.

Helping Myers with the ground game is RB Tonny Lindsey, Jr. He ran for 763 yards last season filling in for Devante Mays, who has departed. Wide receiver Ron'quavion Tarver should be a reliable target, as Braelon Roberts and Jalen Colston-Green provide some interesting options. This is an offense that was incapable of getting over the hump in 2016, losing 5 MWC games by a combined 29 points. When a game was for the taking, they invariably failed to make it happen.

The prognosis doesn't get much rosier when one turns their attention to the Utah State defense. They lost key pieces in the middle and their whole defensive line needs to be revamped. The shining light is their secondary, but they are ill-equipped to make up for a front seven that depreciated even further. Safeties Dallin Leavitt and Jontrell Rocquermore are capable, along with corner Jalen Davis. There is also some experience in the middle. But this is a group that seems "just there." They didn't get after the passer in 2016 and registered a pitiful ten takeaways for the whole year. It's just hard to envision this being even a mildly-impactful group.

Wisconsin puts the ball in the hands of Alex Hornibrook at quarterback. He took over in week 8 of last season and though his passing numbers weren't very good, the team seemed to respond better to having him behind center. In the past few seasons, we have seen Wisconsin return to their bread-and-butter—a robust run-game that controls games, while their defense does a big part of the heavy lifting. Toward that end, running back Broderick Shaw finished strongly last season and Chris James is a transfer from Pittsburgh who should chip in, as well. They work behind a line that is fairly intact and should be good. Maybe after a full offseason as the cemented starter, Hornibrook can make more of an impact aerially. He has weapons, including a really good tight end in Troy Fumagalli, in addition to receivers Jazz Peavy (questionable) and Quintez Cephus.


The Badgers' "D" is a big part of their recipe for success and they hope for more of the same after allowing an average of just 15.6 points a game last season. It might not be as easy with a lot of their juice in the middle having departed, as Vince Biegel and TJ Watt are now gone. Middle linebacker Jack Cichy was supposed to return, but they lost him to injury. The secondary lost key pieces Sojourn Nelson and Nick Musso and need guys like Nick Nelson and Natrell Jamerson to fill in capably. They have their third different coordinator in as many seasons with Jim Leonhard, the former Badgers and NFL safety. We'll see if they can come close to matching last year's form.

The spread of better than 4 touchdowns isn't an easy number to lay on a Wisconsin team that isn't really built to provide offensive fireworks. In Utah State's only similar matchup where they were overmatched in 2016 was a 38-point loss to USC. They also lost by close to this margin to a few MWC teams. And Wisconsin did drop the hammer on several teams last season in non-conference and even against some lower-rung Big Ten teams. I see Utah State having a hard time hitting the scoreboard with any regularity. I'm going under.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting the Utah State vs. Wisconsin game will go under 48 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Utah State vs. Wisconsin game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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