College football forecast: On Wisconsin as disrespected 'dog

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

December 2, 2017 08:48 AM
Urban Meyer, who is 1-1 in Big Ten title games, leads Ohio State against Wisconsin today in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes are 5-point favorites. With a win, the Badgers are in the four-team playoff.
© USA Today Sports Images

Not much has been said this week about Paul Chryst, who’s not exactly a household name. He coaches an undefeated team with a great defense, but his team is mostly perceived as a nuisance in the great College Football Playoff debates.

What has been said about Wisconsin is far from flattering. The schedule was weak. The wins are ugly. The quarterback stinks. Even a minor-league baseball player, Tim Tebow, piled on by claiming the Badgers would have no prayer against mighty Alabama. Chryst was not even mentioned as the eighth choice in the circus that is the Tennessee coaching search.

The headline news leading up to the Big Ten championship game has been all about Urban Meyer. The Ohio State coach was angry and spearheading a manhunt to find the mysterious photographer who sacked quarterback J.T. Barrett and wrecked his right knee in pregame warmups last week.

Six days after arthroscopic knee surgery, Barrett is a game-time decision, and Meyer might be forced to go with backup Dwayne Haskins, a redshirt freshman. Meyer wants some sympathy. He believes the Buckeyes, despite two ugly double-digit losses, deserve a playoff spot.

Barrett has 42 touchdowns (33 passing, nine rushing) and combines with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber to lead a flashy offense. Now we find out if Wisconsin’s junkyard-dog defense is legit. The Badgers bring in the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense (80.5 yards per game) and No. 2 scoring defense (12.0), but they have not faced one great quarterback all season. Barrett will be the best they have faced, if he plays, and bet on him playing.

Wisconsin would be considered lucky if a sideline cameraman knocks out its quarterback, Alex Hornibrook, who has tossed 13 interceptions and is often a liability. However, Hornibrook has shown improvement the past two weeks by cutting down on pick-sixes.

The Badgers are hoping their quarterback does not sabotage their chances while running back Jonathan Taylor carries the offense and the defense takes care of business, as usual. To beat the Buckeyes — or at least cover the number — the Badgers need their defense to dominate while Taylor (1,806 yards rushing) controls the pace of the game on the ground.

It also would help if the Badgers bring their “A” game while the Buckeyes bring what little they did in a 55-24 loss at Iowa in early November. Count on Wisconsin (12-0) bringing the attitude of a disrespected underdog.

Three years ago, I was on Ohio State in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes, with a backup quarterback, were 4-point underdogs in a 59-0 embarrassment of the Badgers. But this Meyer team is nowhere near as dangerous. This time, I’m on Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes’ star quarterback is hobbled, and it might not be pretty, but the Badgers can win this game with their defense.

Saturday’s plays: Texas Christian (plus-7) over Oklahoma; Georgia (Pick) over Auburn; Fresno State (plus-9) over Boise State; Wisconsin (plus-5) over Ohio State.

Last week: 2-6 against the spread

Season: 51-52-2


Subscribers to the Vegas Stats & Information Network’s digital magazine get access to our weekly college and pro handicapping contests. Here are the contest selections for this week, with lines posted as of Tuesday’s deadline:

Todd Dewey, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Last week: 3-2

Season: 28-36-1

USC -3.5

Central Florida -7

Auburn -2.5

Fresno State plus-9

Oklahoma -7

Paul Howard,

Last week: 3-2

Season: 34-29-2

Georgia Southern -2.5

North Texas plus-10.5

Ohio State-Wisconsin Under 53

Massachusetts-FIU Under 55.5

Florida State -27

Brett Lawson,

Last week: 3-2

Season: 24-39-2

Stanford plus-3.5

Memphis plus-7

Fresno State plus-9

Miami-Clemson Under 47.5 

Wisconsin plus-6

Amal Shah,

Last week: 2-3

Season: 23-41-1

USC -3.5

Central Florida -7

Auburn -2.5

Clemson -9.5

Oklahoma -7

Matt Youmans,

Last week: 3-2

Season: 34-31

Stanford plus-3.5

Georgia plus-2.5

Fresno State plus-9

Wisconsin plus-6

Texas Christian plus-7

Get a free trial to Point Spread Weekly, VSiN’s guide to football betting:

back to news

FREE Email Sign-Up

Get the latest sports betting news & VSiN programming updates with this free daily email from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network.


View All
  • Zach_LaVine

    Tuley's Takes Today: Tuesday recaps, Circa Quarter prizes, Wednesday best bet (12/8)

    “You can’t win ‘em all.” If you were to watch games with me in the Tuley’s Takes home office or in one of the sportsbooks...
  • bama

    Early CFP Semifinals Sharp Report

    Today bettors have a loaded Wednesday slate to choose from including 13 NBA games, 4 NHL games and 50 College Basketball games. For an updated breakdown...
  • USATSI_17214623

    Peterson: Best bet for Wyoming vs. Arizona

    The Wyoming Cowboys have started out the season with eight straight wins, but face their toughest test yet when they go to Tucson on Wednesday to face...
  • makinennfl

    Analyzing NFL QBs for betting success

    I have always been a football handicapper who puts a ton of stock into the quality of quarterback play. In my opinion, there is no more important position...
  • makinencbb

    Ten midmajors to watch

    The college basketball season has been up and running for nearly a month, and it’s a good time to start plotting for the rest of the season based...
  • makinencfb

    Who's hot, not ahead of bowls?

    With college bowl season opening Dec. 17, here’s a look at which bowl-bound teams are hot and which are not, as well as teams that have had big...
  • burkesurvivor

    Tricky week in survivor pools

    There are only five weeks left in the NFL regular season, but for those still alive in survivor pools, the light at the end of the tunnel is merely a...
  • burkecbb

    Why pace matters in college hoops

    A lot of early-season questions have been answered in college basketball. But as conference play kicks into gear, adjustments will be needed. There...
  • tuley

    Tuley's Takes on NFL Week 14

    NFL Week 13 was another roller-coaster ride here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but as has happened many weekends this season, teasers saved...
  • hill

    NFL capsules for Week 14

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) will be looking for their second win in five days when they...
  • appelbaum

    Five NFL games on wise guys' radar

    It was a mixed bag for NFL Week 13 bettors as favorites went 8-6 SU and 8-6 ATS. Dogs remain profitable for the season at 107-85-1 ATS (56 percent). ...
  • macneil

    NHL teams slip-sliding away

    The Canucks and Flyers fired their coaches over the weekend, and the Canucks took it a step further, firing their general manager as well. It’s...

VSiN Logo Plus

Free Trial

Make a risk-free bet on VSiN!


  • Afternoon subscriber-only email with highlights and best bets from the day's programs
  • Point Spread Weekly, VSiN's digital magazine on sports betting
  • 24-7 Live video stream of VSiN programs plus replays
  • Any special sport-specified betting guides we do
  • All exclusive subscriber-only stories and data on
Sign Up Now
Google Play
App Store