• Michigan Needs a Statement Win, But Would Wisconsin be the One?
  • Tough Start for The Badgers
  • The Big Ten East is Stacked

Jim Harbaugh is in his eighth season at Michigan and he almost didn’t make it past the seventh. No wins over Ohio State, no Big Ten East titles and nothing close to a College Football Playoff berth, but the Wolverines are 4-0 and ranked 14th heading into their clash at 1-2 Wisconsin that a month ago looked like a big game.

Instead, the Badgers have dropped two of their first three contests, including a wild 41 – 13 loss last week to Notre Dame after Wisconsin took a 13-10 lead with 14 minutes left in the game. The Irish responded with 31 unanswered points, including a kickoff return a pair of interception returns for touchdowns.

Considering the strength of the Big Ten East, with Penn State and Michigan State looking good early in the season, Michigan can’t afford to take a loss at Wisconsin or they may be out of contention for the division before they really get the conference slate underway. Given Ohio State’s difficulties on defense, this may be the best chance Harbaugh has had to unset the Buckeyes.

Michigan vs Wisconsin Matchup at a Glance

  • Sport: College Football
  • Teams: Michigan at Wisconsin
  • Where: Madison, Wisconsin, Camp Randall Stadium
  • Date: October 2
  • Betting Odds: at PointsBet
    • Spread: Michigan +2 (-110), Wisconsin -2 (-110)
    • Moneyline: Michigan +105, Wisconsin -125
    • Total: 43.5 (-110 o/u)

Michigan Preview: Hot Seat for Harbaugh

There isn’t a college football coaching hot seat that’s set at a higher temperature than Jim Harbaugh’s at Michigan. Combined with their good start, an explosive offense, solid defense and Ohio State’s apparent slight slip, the expectations are high for the Wolverines.

Michigan is rushing for 291 yards a game and averaging 6.3 yards an attempt, keeping the ball away from the opposition with quarterback Cade McNamara providing steady play, tossing three touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins are combining for 200 rushing yards a game and have scored a total of 13 touchdowns on the ground while the defense is limiting the opposition to just over 300 yards per game.

Wisconsin Preview: The Badgers are Better than Their Record

The Badgers opened the season with a 16 – 10 loss to Penn State after assuming a 10 – 7 lead early in the fourth quarter before giving up nine unanswered points, sounding eerily similar to the Notre Dame game script.

They held Penn State to 297 yards and the Irish to 242 and ended up taking losses in both showdowns, but that’s primarily they’ve been unable to hold onto the ball, throwing six interceptions and losing two fumbles in their two defeats.

Michigan is probably better than either Notre Dame or Penn State, so Wisconsin will need a much better and consistent offensive effort if they’re going to prevail in their slight favorite status.

The Badgers will try to control the ball by keeping it on the ground, but that game plan will only work as long as they can maintain a lead or stay within a score of the Wolverines.

Odds & Free Betting Analysis for This College Football Game

Obviously, the oddsmakers aren’t as sold on Michigan as their head coach is, installing the Wolverines as narrow underdogs on the road. Neither Notre Dame nor Penn State posed the type of challenge to the Badger defense that Michigan will, especially if Wisconsin’s offense gets bogged down or turns the ball over.

This just may be the year Wolverine fans have been waiting for and I’d take those couple of points and go with Michigan to come out of Camp Randall with a win, although not quite the signature victory they need. The over/under bet is just too risky at 43.5.

Michigan vs Wisconsin Pick

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Kevin Krest is the author of the PK Frazier series of four novels and the Beyond the Commentary blog with over 500 posts about the world of sports. Kevin covers golf, football and horse racing for and holds media credentials from the USGA, PGA, LPGA and Oaklawn Park.
As a media member, Kevin has attended and written in depth pieces about the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women's Open and several other LPGA and PGA Tour Champions events.