Wisconsin Badgers predictions: Game 10 at Penn State
While Saturday's matchup between Wisconsin and Penn State no longer has playoff implications as perhaps thought this offseason, there's still plenty of intrigue and on the line.
Plus, the Nittany Lions are ranked (although they plummeted seven spots after last week's blowout loss at Michigan) which helps us here at the ol' predictions roundup.
The Badgers head to State College 6-3 but banged up, with quarterback Alex Hornibrook seemingly unlikely to play and having just lost defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu. Penn State has that awful loss to rebound from and also has an uncertain situation at quarterback.
Wisconsin can run the ball; Penn State has been bad stopping the run.
Who to pick in this situation? Vegas has made the Nittany Lions a nine-point favorite. Being at home helps. The prognosticators around the web agree (mostly everywhere, but especially those located in Pennsylvania). There are those, however, who aren't putting Penn State in the win column just yet. Some from around the web think Wisconsin will prevail (and the fan response was a bit more pro-UW than expected, too).
Hopefully we get a good game.
Here's this week's picks from around the web and Twitter:
The Associated Press' Ralph D. Russo: Penn State 28, Wisconsin 21.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Penn State 30, Wisconsin 23. "Wisconsin’s defense just isn’t good enough. It has the ground game to beat up the Nittany Lions, but the secondary has problems with midrange passing games and good receivers. The Penn State offense won’t be awesome, but it’ll connect just enough to keep the chains moving. Wisconsin will get the yards on the ground to keep things going, but the lack of a steady passing attack will be a killer."
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 20. "After suffering three losses in the division, this could be a real gut-check moment for Penn State. Wisconsin will be the last real challenge for Penn State this season, and this game could carry a lot of weight in what kind of bowl destination Penn State will be visiting. Getting a team still playing for something meaningful this season presents Penn State an opportunity to show some pride and provide a reason to be encouraged about the remainder of the season. Trace McSorley will need his receivers to hold on to the football, and Penn State has to find a way to get Miles Sanders involved. Wisconsin will be a bit one-dimensional with the running game, which could be an advantage for Penn State even given how good the Wisconsin running game is."
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 26, Penn State 23. "Two teams that were supposed to compete for the Big Ten championship will play a consolation game of sorts, though the Badgers have a little more to play for. If Wisconsin can get something going in the passing game, then they have a chance. Go with the team that has more to play for."
Everyone over at PennLive.com is picking Penn State. The scores: Bob Flouders, 27-24; David Jones, 23-20; Greg Pickel, 24-13; Joe Hermitt, 27-20; Dustin Hockensmith, 30-24.
Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record: Penn State 26, Wisconsin 14.
Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call: Penn State 30, Wisconsin 17. "Once a potential Big Ten title-game prelude, this game now will decide the Florida-bowl pecking order. Both teams have quarterback concerns and defensive holes, but Penn State appears better positioned for a revival game."
Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle: Penn State 31, Wisconsin 21.
Mike Gross of Lancaster Online: Penn State 19, Wisconsin 17.
Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Daily News: Penn State 31, Wisconsin 21.
All 11 writers from Onward State (a student newspaper) are not shockingly picking Penn State to win.
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic ($): Wisconsin 28, Penn State 27. "How resilient are these Nittany Lions? They got crunched last week at Michigan. Their run defense has been really shaky, ranking No. 10 in the Big Ten, which doesn’t bode well when you have the country’s top O-line and the nation’s leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, coming to town."
Stewart Mandel of The Athletic ($): Penn State 31, Wisconsin 20. "Neither team has given much reason to be confident in it. Penn State QB Trace McSorley’s health remains a concern, but at least we know he’s capable of playing at a high level. Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook is questionable with a head injury and has been playing poorly even when healthy, and it’s asking a lot of backup QB Jack Coan to go on the road and win this one."
Athon Sports' Mitch Light: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 17.
Jesse Temple of The Athletic ($): Penn State 28, Wisconsin 17. "While Wisconsin’s running game has been strong, the Badgers haven’t consistently shown they have a dynamic enough offense to keep pace with Penn State. Wisconsin’s defense has made excellent progress but still isn’t an elite-level unit as it has been in recent seasons, which doesn’t help matters. Penn State’s offensive performance against Michigan doesn’t erase the fact that the Nittany Lions can score in a hurry. ... McSorley’s presence could go a long way Saturday. Maybe it’s because I’ve covered every Wisconsin game this season and therefore see the Badgers’ flaws more often. But I have a tough time believing Wisconsin leaves Beaver Stadium with a victory."
Audrey Snyder of The Athletic ($): Penn State 27, Wisconsin 20. "If Wisconsin had a healthy quarterback (starter Alex Hornibrook is listed as questionable), it would still pound the ball. Penn State’s front seven knows what it’s getting a healthy dose of and has to be able to limit the damage on the ground. The Lions need a win in the worst way after falling apart in Ann Arbor and should be able to do enough with Sanders, KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth to close out this difficult three-game stretch with a 2-1 mark."
Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Leader: Penn State 27, Wisconsin 24.
Brad Crawford and Chris Hummer of 247 Sports: Crawford -- Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21; Hummer -- Wisconsin 28, Penn State 24.
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Wisconsin 24, Penn State 21. "Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook (concussion) is questionable to play; Jack Coan is ready for his second start in three weeks. And the Badgers just lost powerful nose tackle Olive Sagapolu for the season. Penn State, meanwhile, might not have quarterback Trace McSorley (with that knee injury he suffered against Iowa) and is staggering after a 42-7 loss at Michigan. With so many unknowns, I’ll lean on one constant: Wisconsin still knows how to run the football."
Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: Penn State 21, Wisconsin 17.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Penn State 34, Wisconsin 20. "This Wisconsin defense is uncharacteristically average, especially against the run. Add in the potential absence of quarterback Alex Hornibrook due to a head injury, and Penn State should be able to recover from its embarrassing 42-7 loss at Michigan."
The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel: Penn State 26, Wisconsin 21.
Al "Big Al' Arend of the Herald-Palladium: Penn State 34, Wisconsin 24.
Bill Connelly of SB Nation: His S&P+ projection has it Penn State 31, Wisconsin 28.
All nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have the Penn State winning but, hey, six think Wisconsin will cover a nine-point spread.
All three Athlon Sports analysts are picking Penn State to win.
Five of the six analysts at USAToday.com pick Penn State to win with Dan Wolken the lone exception.
All seven CBSSports.com analysts think Wisconsin will lose but six have the Badgers covering an 8 1/2-point spread.
All six reporters and editors at the Los Angeles Times are picking Penn State. The scores: Ben Bolch, 35-24; Mike Hiserman, 31-23; J. Brady McCollough, 30-17; Blake Richardson, 35-27; Angel Rodriguez, 27-20; David Wharton, 23-16.
All three analysts at FootballScoop.com pick Penn State to win.