The week 8 Wisconsin at Illinois betting matchup opened up with the Badgers a -4 point favorite which has been bet down to -2.5. Sure UW lost last week to Iowa, but they are still 4-2 on the year against an Illini (3-4) team that is mediocre at best.
This game definitely feels like a trap on the Badgers, with 66% of public betting on Wisconsin while the line is moving in the opposite direction. The Illini did get their first conference win last week against Maryland and IU coach Bret Bielema used to be the head man in Madison so there is some rivalry issues there – but the Badgers have also won 11 of the last 13 in this head to head matchup.
Why Wisconsin Has Value at -2.5
Can the Badgers win this game by at least a field goal? Illinois did look solid last Saturday at Maryland winning 27-24 as +13 point underdogs, but this is also a Fighting Illini squad that 20-7 at home to Nebraska (as -3 point favorites) and 44-19 at Purdue (-1) in their previous two games. It’s possible that the Terrapins simply looked past IU last week.
Wisconsin lost 15-6 at Iowa last Saturday, and that’s a horrible offensive showing – but also against a very good Hawkeyes defense and while UW had to go to their backup QB. Starting signal caller Tanner Mordecai is out indefinitely with a hand injury, but 2nd stringer Braedyn Locke with a full week of practicing with the starters.
The good thing for UW in the Wisconsin at Illinois week 8 matchup is that Locke doesn’t have to be great, the Badgers just need to rely on their running game and defense. RB Braelon Allen has 559 yards (6.1 ypc) and 7 TDs through 6 games while the Wisconsin defense gives up just 17.8 ppg. Illinois has also regressed defensively compared to the last couple years, ranking last in the conference allowing 398.4 ypg.
Why Illinois Has Value at +2.5
If you boast about Wisconsin winning 11 of their last 13 against Illinois, you also can’t be discreet and not mention the Illini winning 34-10 last year in Madison which resulted in Badgers coach Paul Chryst getting fired the next day. Illinois also won 24-23 at home in 2019 as +28.5 underdogs when the Badgers were ranked #6 so these teams often do battle recently.
Sometimes you just need one to get the ball rolling, and we’ll see how much momentum the Illini have after last week’s win at Maryland. The Fighting Illini rush defense looks like it’s back after holding Maryland to 93 yards on the ground on 29 carries, something that will be huge against the run-heavy Badgers.
You don’t think of them being very prominent on that side of the ball, but Illinois does have the #6 total yardage offense in the Big Ten (371.6 yards/game). With Wisconsin missing Mordecai as well as former 800+ yard RB Chez Mellusi it’s likely not going to take a whole lot of points to beat the Badgers on Saturday afternoon (O/U 40.5).
Free Wisconsin at Illinois Betting Pick
This looks like one of those typical Big Ten smash fests, which does make the side somewhat of a coin flip. While Illinois had a big win last week against Maryland, it’s hard to overlook just how flat they looked against Nebraska and Purdue. Wisconsin has had a week to adapt to starting a backup QB, and should be able to get the road win here to stay in the Big Ten West race.
Free Pick: Wisconsin -2.5