Play #1- Wisconsin -26 (-110) vs Eastern Michigan (1.5u)
This will be an angry Wisconsin team after showing poorly against Penn State, especially on offense. In the last 3 years under Paul Christ (not counting 2020 due to no non conference) the Badgers have beaten their non major conference opponents by 49,61,48,49,31,31,17 (11-3 FAU team), 34.
They have also lost one game by 3 points vs BYU. Since 2011, Wisconsin has played a MAC team 8 times, and have won by an average of 33 points. In 2020, Eastern Michigan was 120th of 128 FCS teams against the run, a facet of the game in which the Badgers absolutely have dominated against lower conference teams historically. Additionally, if you look at Graham Mertz last year, he was elite against bad teams and poor against good ones.
Against teams that finished under .500 (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota), Mertz threw for 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, whereas he threw 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in the other games. This helps me get past his brutal week 1 vs Penn State and have confidence he will be fine vs this inferior opponent. Finally, you have the non quantifiable motivational factor. I think based on the numbers it’s clear that on paper the Badgers should cover this number. However, I do think there is a little bit extra motivation going into this game after their showing last week, and the Badgers are going to keep the pedal down for a little longer than maybe they usually would.
Play #2 – Iowa +4.5 (-110) in Ames 1u
Iowa State vs Iowa has been a great rivalry over the years, especially the last couple years since the revival of the Iowa State program. However, it has still been surprisingly one sided over the last few years (didn’t play last year).
Even with Brock Purdy and Breece Hall, the Cyclones have not won against Iowa in 6 years, and haven’t won by more than 3 since 2005. Additionally, Charlie Kolar, ISU’s All-American tight end is questionable and banged up. As is starting receiver Sean Shaw Jr, and even top linebacker O’rien Vance and the aforementioned Breece Hall are banged up, though likely to play.
The Hawkeyes are coming in with momentum after destroying Indiana last week, and are also completely healthy. The most impressive thing about the 34-6 win over Indiana is the fact that the offense didn’t even have to play that well. They put up 303 yards on 64 plays, which is a modest 4.7 per play, and they turned the ball over twice. The defense was the reason they won this game so handily, picking off preseason heisman hopeful Michael Penix Jr. 3 times. Indiana’s offense had big ten receiver of the year Ty Fryfogle as well, and was absolutely silenced. On the flip side, Iowa State squeaked by Northern Iowa, winning by 6 and getting banged up in the process. With all this in mind, I think Iowa gets to play their brand of football, control the game and the clock, and get out of Ames with a win or close loss.
YTD Record- 1-1(-.6u)