College Football Predictions: Big Ten Game Of The Day Badgers vs Spartans

Michigan State Spartans players celebrating during a game

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:26 PM GMT

The biggest game of the day, on Saturday, if you go by the AP Top 25 rankings, is when No. 11 Wisconsin visits No. 8 Michigan State in the Big Ten  opener for both. The Spartans are -5.5 on 5Dimes college football odds with a total of 43.

Badgers Banged Up In Backfield
Wisconsin (3-0) was unranked entering the season but catapulted up the rankings following a Week 1 16-14 upset of No. 5 LSU at Lambeau Field. The Badgers have played two cupcakes since then. They blasted Akron 54-10 in Week 2 and then nearly got caught looking ahead to this big game last week when as five-touchdown favorites on SBR's best sportsbooks they barely escaped against Georgia State 23-17.

And from that result has emerged a quarterback controversy. Coach Paul Chryst pulled struggling starter Bart Houston for redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook in the third quarter and Wisconsin leading just 6-3. Hornibrook led three scoring drives and finished 8 of 12 for 122 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Penniston with 7:25 left to give UW the lead for good. Houston, a senior, was 10-for-18 for 91 yards.

So who starts Saturday? Chryst isn't saying, although the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported it would be Hornibrook. The coach says both need to be ready. No reason to tell Michigan State what he's going to do. It was a close battle between the two in fall camp.

Wisconsin also has some injury concerns for this game. Top tailback Corey Clement didn't play against Georgia State due to an ankle injury and is considered questionable. I tend to think he plays because Clement said he could have against Georgia State. Clement has rushed 42 times for 197 yards and three scores. Fellow tailbacks Taiwan Deal (right leg) and Bradrick Shaw (right shoulder) also are listed as questionable.

The Badgers have lost four straight at Michigan State but haven't played there since 2011, when Sparty won on a Hail Mary. UW is 2-1 ATS on college football odds and 1-2 O/U.

Spartans Rise Up Vs. Ranked Teams
Michigan State (2-0) plays the disrespect card perhaps better than any team in the country and they once again won a game against ranked team they weren't supposed to, last week with a 36-28 upset at No. 18 Notre Dame. The Spartans aren't all that interesting to watch if you aren't a fan. They win by pounding the ball on the ground behind a very physical offensive line -- thus keeping the other team's offense off the field -- as well by winning the turnover battle.

MSU rushed for 260 yards against the Irish, held the ball for ball, for nearly 38 minutes and forced three turnovers. The Spartans were down 7-0 and scored 36 points in a row before holding on for dear life. MSU prevailed for the 10th time in its last 13 games against ranked opponents, including six out of the last seven The Spartans got out of that game with no serious injuries.

The winner Saturday surely will be the team that runs the ball better. The Badgers are averaging 48.7 rushing attempts per game, while the Spartans average 46.0. MSU is No. 1 in the Big Ten in allowing 72.0 rushing yards per game and UW gives up 82.3.

Michigan State is 1-1 ATS and 1-1 O/U.

These teams haven't played since 2012, but they are usually close games. Give the points, go 'under' the total for your college football picks. UW is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 Big Ten games. The 'under' is 10-4 in the Badgers' past 14. It's 5-2 in MSU's past seven.

NCAAF Free Picks: Under 43½ -110
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes which offers a 50% Free Play Bonus

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