|4.5 MICH (-110) @ bet365|
My 10* "signature" LEGEND Play is on Michigan at 7:30 ET.
The Big Ten returned to play on Friday, Oct 23 as then-No. 14 hosted Illinois in the nation's oldest conference's first game of CFB 2020. Wisconsin expected RB Jonathan Taylor (2,003 rushing yards in 2019) to leave a year early for the NFL but head Paul Chryst couldn't have planned for the loss of QB Jack Coan (69.6% / 2,727 yards / 18 TDs and just five INTs in 2019) to a foot injury on Oct 10. That meant redshirt freshman Graham Mertz got the start. Not to worry, as Metz completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards with five TDs, as the Badgers rolled 45-7. Wisconsin heads to "The Big House" in Ann Arbor to play Michigan ranked 13th in the latest AP poll but because of a fairly significant COVID-19 outbreak (which included QB Mertz and head coach Chryst), Wisconsin will be playing just its second game of the season. As for Michigan, Jim Harbaugh's team is once again underachieving. The Wolverines ran all over Minnesota 49-24 in its season opener on Oct 24 (256 rushing yards on 8.3 YPC) but have since lost 27-24 at home to Michigan St (as a three-TD favorite) and then steamrolled 38-21 at Indiana last Saturday, losing to the Hoosiers for the FIRST time in 33 years!
Let's start with Wisconsin. It was never a given that the Badgers would be able to play this game but it's on. However, the status of redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz, who tested positive on Oct 24, is unclear. Head coach Paul Chryst, who tested positive on the same day, said the Badgers will measure the progress of Mertz all week. "Graham, the way that he is timing out (is) starting that process of coming back, his tests are all done. So I think he'll be able to have some practice. We'll see if it's enough practice time," Chryst said. "You don't know. Each guy's a little bit different how they handle all of it. We'll kind of see on him and a couple of other guys that were kind of in that early group of (positive tests)."
Michigan broke in a new QB to start this season as well and Joe Milton shined in the team's season-opening win. He completed 15 of 22 for 225 yards with one TD and zero INTs, while adding 52 yards rushing and another TD. Yes, Michigan's dropped its last two games but DON'T blame Milton. He threw for 300 yards and ran for 59 more in the loss to MSU and while he did throw his first two INTs of the season at Indiana, he also passed for 344 yards and three TDs. Michigan's running game disappeared vs Indiana 13 yards on 18 attempts and its defense allowed Indiana to roll up 460 yards.
Why Michigan here? First let me start with Wisconsin. No one knows for certain which players are ready and how much that they will be able to impact the contest. What's more, so what that Wisconsin rolled over Illinois 45-7? The Illini are 0-3, having allowed 39.0 PPG on 475.7 YPG. In fact, Illinois 'held' Wisconsin to 430 yards, which is the team's best defensive effort of the season. I'm on record as not liking or being very impressed with Harbaugh but the fact remains that the home team is 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings of this series and Wisconsin has NOT won in Ann Arbor since 2010! Michigan is out of the AP top-25 for the first time since the end of the 2017 season and a HUGE understatement would be that the Wolverines (particularly Harbaugh) is DESPERATE for a win in this one. Getting points is a bonus. Go Big Blue!