While it seems nearly every other team in the Big Ten is dealing with some controversy – either on the field or off of it – the Wisconsin Badgers just keep winning to keep pace with the other top teams in the conference. Bucky has its problems, but winning and annihilating opponents isn’t one of them. The Badgers beat a non-conference foe in Madison for the 41st consecutive time and they look to extend that streak in Week 3 against the BYU Cougars, whose season opening win over Arizona doesn’t look so good now.
Watch this Week 3 matchup live on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. ET at Camp Randall Stadium.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
BYU Cougars +23
Wisconsin Badgers -23
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
Wisconsin is 0-2 ATS this season, but this will be the lowest spread they’ve played against. Bucky easily handled BYU last year, covering the 14-point line in a 40-6 win in Provo against a sophomore quarterback making his first start. The Badgers opened as 23-point chalk and the betting public is backing the home team with 57 percent of the early money.
Matchup to Watch
The Cougars did a nice job of limiting Khalil Tate in the opener, but Arizona runners were still able to churn out nearly 130 yards. BYU had a tougher time last week against Cal, allowing 172 yards and 4.5 yards per pop to the Golden Bears. Now the Cougs have to try and slow down the country’s top runner in Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who averages just a tick under 200 yards rushing per game.
Taylor had a career day against New Mexico on Saturday, scampering for 253 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. He did lose the football on one of his carries for the second straight week, which is about the only concern Paul Chryst and his staff have. Like all good backs, Taylor responded on the drive following his miscue by scoring one of his career-high tying three scores to put the game out of reach. Taylor had 145 yards in the opener and he leads the nation with 398 total rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Player to Watch
After a horrible season in 2017 that saw the Cougars average just over 17 points per game, a bunch of changes were made to the coaching staff. But BYU has the player who can change the narrative. Tanner Mangum burst onto the scene in Provo as a freshman in 2015, throwing for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns. A variety of injuries have limited him to 14 games in three seasons since then.
It was hard for BYU to build any continuity last season with three different players starting multiple games at QB. Mangum has returned from an injury sooner than expected to take over the role and he was sharp in the opener completing 18 of 28 for 209 yards and a touchdown in the upset of Arizona. But he regressed last week and struggled against Cal, throwing for only 196 yards with a pair of interceptions. Mangum has the experience and shouldn’t be fazed by the surroundings, but he needs to be at his best to beat the Badgers on the road.
41 – Putting together 16 consecutive winning seasons and posting at least nine victories in 12 of them requires a team to take care of business in its own yard. And that’s exactly what the Badgers have done over the years. Sure, there have been some cupcake games mixed in where teams travel to pick up a hefty paycheck. But it’s still up to Wisconsin to defeat their opponent, and they’ve done it.
Putting the hammer down last week on New Mexico, a Group of Five team from the Mountain West Conference, the Badgers extended their non-conference home winning streak to 41 in a row. BYU is the last opponent with a chance to end that streak this season.
Free ATS Pick
It looked like BYU may have turned a corner this season after their season-opening win at Arizona. But that victory doesn’t look so good after the Wildcats got blown out in Houston last weekend. And the Cougars followed that up with a clunker of their own at home against Cal.
We saw a number of problems that plagued BYU in 2017 crop up last week, and the offense unraveled against an athletic Cal squad. The defensive front is undersized and will be no match for Bucky’s mammoth front, who will open holes for Taylor to cruise through. Mangum needs to control the game and be accurate with his passes to keep Bucky off the field. If he isn’t, Wisconsin will roll. I do think the spread is too high and the Cougars will keep it within the line.
College Football Odds: Wisconsin 38, BYU 20
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