Wisconsin Badgers predictions: Game 6 vs. Michigan State
Another week and another home game for Wisconsin — that’s five straight for those of you counting at home, the most consecutive games at Camp Randall Stadium for the Badgers since 1981.
After a week away from the Big Ten, it’s back to conference opponents for Wisconsin, and a potential tough game against Michigan State. It feels like the kind of game where you’ll finally learn the true nature of both of these teams (or cement a current opinion).
Wisconsin enters a 10 1/2-point favorite, the fifth time it’s been a double-digit fave this season (Michigan being the exception). The Spartans are an underdog for the second straight week — they were 20-point dogs at Ohio State, and lost 34-10, dropping them out of the top 25.
Sounds like a good time to mention that Paul Chryst is 39-4 against unranked (Associated Press top 25) opponents as Wisconsin’s head coach.
Perhaps then it’s no surprise that the vast majority of those predicting a winner for this game are taking Wisconsin — but not all (it’s kind of like Where’s Waldo; see if you can find those picking Michigan State). However, might the spread be too high? Can Michigan State slow down Jonathan Taylor and force this to be a Jack Coan game? But can the Spartans crusty offense move the ball? Will it be a high-scoring game or low? The final score predictions are all over the place. Also, we’ve asked what we think is an appropriate number in our Twitter bonus question.
Scroll down to see all this week’s predictions from around the web and Twitter:
The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo: Wisconsin 28, Michigan State 20.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 26, Michigan State 17. “Wisconsin will score early, but it’ll stall way too often and settle for field goal attempts throughout the rest of the half. Jonathan Taylor will be stuffed, there will be too many third down attempts, and it’ll be a tight battle. But MSU won’t be able to do enough to take over despite taking a lead into the locker room. The Badger offensive front will take over in the second half, and the grind of the Spartans’ last month – remember, MSU had that nasty game against ASU before this run of road dates – will finally show up.”
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 24. “Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has 745 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and he’ll be up against a run defense that was torched by Ohio State last week. If the Badgers want to be considered in the Buckeyes’ weight class, then they need to show they can do that, too. It won’t be that easy.”
Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal: Wisconsin 20, Michigan State 16. “I like this matchup for MSU in terms style and comparable talent. I think the Spartans will be able to move the ball and create scoring chances. Whether they’ve got a shot at this thing will come down to whether they take advantage of those chances and avoid the sort of defensive miscues that allowed for big plays a week ago. Wisconsin is built to beat Ohio State — with its ability to dominate up front and control the clock. MSU is built to defend Wisconsin, with a defensive front that I think can hold up against the Badgers. I can picture this game going a number of ways. I like MSU’s chances, except that this team has shown some concerning tendencies in winning moments.”
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 10. “The bottom line is pretty simple. Michigan State needs to find a way to score points, and that has been the Spartans’ kryptonite against the best defenses they have faced this season. That story won’t change on Saturday, because Wisconsin has one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, if not the nation. Wisconsin has given up some points to its big Ten opponents in Camp Randall Stadium this season, but both games were well in hand by the time their opponents got on the board. With the way Michigan State’s offense is performing, or underperforming, expect Wisconsin to have a healthy lead by the time the Spartans make a dent on the scoreboard this weekend.”
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports: Wisconsin 9, Michigan State 6.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 17. “Michigan State could not stop Ohio State’s rushing attack, giving up 323 yards in a 34-10 loss. Was it simply one bad game? Jonathan Taylor is averaging 149 yards per game for the Badgers, so that concern is obvious. However, you might feel the bigger concern is MSU’s offense against Wisconsin, which has allowed 29 points all year. Either way, the outlook isn’t promising for the Spartans.”
Josh Slagter of MLive.com: Wisconsin 21, Michigan State 20. “Seems like the perfect opportunity to buy low on the Spartans. Sure, Ohio State piled up yards on the ground, but Wisconsin doesn’t have nearly the weapon at QB, so MSU will be able to lock in on Jonathan Taylor. With Brian Lewerke coming off a mostly steady performance at Ohio State, he just needs a little help on offense to keep this one close — whether it be from the drop-heavy receivers or the slimming depth chart at running back. An outright upset is in play here.”
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 10. “It seems unfair nobody forces Wisconsin to modernize its offense with a spread or something, like all the cool Big Ten teams are doing. Instead, it’ll be a dairy spread on Saturday, and the Badgers plan to cover that spread.”
Two of the other three Detroit News writers are picking Wisconsin. The scores: Matt Charboneau – Michigan State 24, Wisconsin 20; Angelique S. Chengelis – Wisconsin 20, Michigan State 13; John Niyo – Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 20.
Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press: Wisconsin 21, Michigan State 13. “Slowing Taylor does not mean stopping him, and the Spartans can’t keep the star out of the end zone or under 100 yards rushing. Their offense move the ball and gets one final chance late, but the Badgers hold on and send MSU into the bye week with significant questions about readjusted goals.”
Rainer Sabin of the Detroit Free Press: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 10.
Matt Wenzel of Mlive.com: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 17. “Of the eight games Dantonio has coached against Wisconsin, seven were decided by 10 points or fewer. The only one that wasn’t was the last time they met when the Badgers won 30-6 in East Lansing in 2016 to kick off a seven-game losing streak in a 3-9 season. Wisconsin doesn’t have a dual-threat quarterback like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, which will alter how Michigan State’s defense attacks. I think the Spartans cut down on explosive plays allowed and keep the game close, as it has been in the past, but fall short on the road.”
Six of seven predictors over at Spartan Nation think Wisconsin will win.
Zac Al-Khateeb of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 21. “At first glance, it looks as if Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor should have no problem gashing a Michigan State defense that gave up a combined 323 rushing yards to Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague. But that’s because Fields opened those running lanes with his dual-threat ability; his Wisconsin counterpart, Jack Coan, likely won’t be able to command so much attention as to allow Taylor to go unimpeded. The Badgers have overpowered their opposition all season, but they’ll get their toughest test to date against the Spartans, who keep it close thanks to some timely plays by Brian Lewerke.”
The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel: Wisconsin 21, Michigan State 9.
James Kratch of NJ.com: Doesn’t offer a score, but picks Wisconsin to win. “An interesting litmus test for the Badgers, who eagerly await their crack at Ohio State in two weeks. The Spartans cannot score, but their defense is elite. Will be interesting to see if they can bottle up Jonathan Taylor.”
Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 20.
Al Arend of the Herald-Palladium: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 21.
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic ($): Wisconsin 20, Michigan State 7. “Tough double for the Spartans, who follow-up a trip to Columbus with a game against the Badgers, who are playing almost as well as the Buckeyes. I do think MSU will slow Jonathan Taylor some, but I don’t see the Spartans knocking off Wisconsin.”
Stewart Mandel of The Athletic ($): Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 17.
Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Leader: Wisconsin 21, Michigan State 17. “This line surprises me. MSU has a better defense than Northwestern. A better offense, too. And Wisconsin is still the same Wisconsin team it was a few weeks ago. The Badgers have terrific metrics thanks to awful nonconference opponents, but this game is close.”
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 20. “I am wondering if Michigan State’s defense just isn’t very good after allowing 31 points to Indiana and 34 to Ohio State. Then I am remembering that Wisconsin gained just 243 yards against Northwestern (which plays a similar style to Michigan State). ”
Joe Vozzelli of the Champaign News-Gazette: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 21.
Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Wisconsin 28, Michigan 13. “Nobody’s talking about Wisconsin in the playoff race, but all the Badgers have done is outscore their opponents 217-29. Their defense is the nation’s best through six weeks, and Michigan State proved last week against Ohio State that it doesn’t have the firepower to keep pace with the Big Ten’s best. Sparty can play some defense, but Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is the difference.”
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 17. (Although he does call the Spartans +11 his lock of the week.)
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune is taking Wisconsin and the points, which obviously means he thinks the Badgers will win.
Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times doesn’t give a score but says Wisconsin will win “by only a field goal in a game played in the teens.”
Bill Connelly of ESPN: His S&P+ projection has it Wisconsin 29, Michigan State 17.
Brad Crawford and Chris Hummer of 247 Sports: Crawford — Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 13; Hummer – Wisconsin 17, Michigan State 10.
Joseph Goodman and Lee Sterling of Al.com: Goodman – Wisconsin 42, Michigan State 14; Sterling: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 20.
SportsLine Projection Model: Wisconsin 25, Michigan State 14.
All nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have Wisconsin winning and seven of the nine believe the Badgers will cover a 10-point spread.
All three Athlon Sports analysts are picking Wisconsin to win.
All six analysts at SI.com think Wisconsin will emerge with a victory. Laken Litman writes: “Wisconsin has the most explosive running back (Jonathan Taylor is averaging 149 yards per game and has scored 12 TD), the No. 1 defense (has only allowed 29 points through five games) in college football and is 5–0. Michigan State, meanwhile, is fresh off a 38–10 loss to Ohio State in which it gave up 529 yards, amassed 67 rushing yards on 27 carries, and turned the ball over three times. With the Buckeyes and Badgers on a crash course to meet in the Big Ten championship game, the Spartans could be in for another long day.”
All six analysts at USAToday.com pick Wisconsin to win.
All three at The Oregonian/OregonLive.com pick Wisconsin to win. The scores: Ken Goe, 24-17; Sean Meagher, 37-27; Joel Odom, 28-20.
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