The No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers play host to the No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday in the lone top-25 matchup in college football this weekend. Wisconsin enters the top-25 showdown as 14.5-point favorites with the game total set at 44.5 on SportsBetting.com.
#12 Indiana at #16 Wisconsin
Date: Saturday, Dec. 5 – 3:30 PM ET
Odds: Wisconsin -14.5
The Indiana Hoosiers have been one of college football’s biggest surprises this season. The Hoosiers won their first four games to emerge as a legitimate contender in the Big Ten and proved itself in its fifth game by the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes a scare, falling just 42-35 to the national title contender.
Indiana’s passing attack has been its strength on the offensive side of the ball so far this season, averaging 279 passing yards per game, which is good for No. 25 in the country. Wide receiver Ty Fryfogle has been particularly great, putting up back-to-back games of more than 200 yards receiving and multiple touchdowns heading into last weekend’s game against Maryland. That aerial attack did take a big hit last week though as Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. suffered a season-ending injury and the team sputtered without him, managing just 115 yards through the air.
As good as the passing attack has been, Indiana’s team strength has been its defense. The Hoosiers have a top-50 defense in terms of both yardage and scoring, allowing just 365 yards and 21.7 points per game. Both of those numbers are hurt by the Hoosiers’ game against Ohio State, one of the top offenses in all of college football. The Buckeyes put up 42 points and 607 total yards on Indiana, but the Hoosiers held the Buckeyes to just seven second-half points and forced three interceptions to improve upon their nation’s-best 2.7 interceptions per game.
The Hoosiers have proven they can compete with anybody in the Big Ten on both sides of the ball this year.
The Wisconsin Badgers have played the fewest games of any team in the Big Ten this season as a result of three cancellations due to COVID-19, but they’ve flashed dominance on both sides of the ball when they’ve played.
On offense, the Badgers are led by quarterback Graham Mertz, who burst onto the scene in his debut game of the season, completing 20 of 21 passes for 249 yards and five touchdowns. Mertz hasn’t been nearly as impressive since, but the Wisconsin running game picked up in his place the following game, outrushing Michigan 341 to 47 to lead the team to a dominant 49-11 win over the Wolverines.
The Badgers hit a snag in their third game of the season against the Northwestern Wildcats, falling 17-7 after a three-interception performance from Mertz, but the defense shined once again, allowing just 24 rushing yards on the day.
Wisconsin’s offense may be inconsistent, but the defense has been consistent and dominant. The Badgers have statistically the best defense in the country, allowing a nation’s-best 233.3 yards per game, and ranking No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 11.7 points per game.
The offense may not always come out strong, but the defense has shut down every opponent the Badgers have played this season.
Indiana is the more well-rounded team in this matchup in terms of both its offensive and defensive performances, but the Hoosiers offense took a serious hit in losing Penix for the season. Without Penix, Indiana had to rely much more on its running game, which has struggled all season, ranking in the bottom 15 in the nation in terms of rushing yards per game. That’s going to be a problem against a Wisconsin rush defense that’s given up just 35.5 yards per game the past two contents.
The Badgers will shut Indiana down on defense and pull away on the offensive side of the ball.
Pick: Wisconsin -14.5