Defending Big Ten West champion Wisconsin still has a shot to repeat, but it needs to win out and get a bit of help. Winning Saturday at home vs. Rutgers shouldn't be an issue. The Badgers are -20.5 on BetDSI's college football odds with a total of 51.5.
Badgers Try To Stay Alive In West Division
Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) is in sole possession of second-place in the Big Ten West, a game behind unbeaten Iowa. But really it's two games back because the Badgers lost to the visiting Hawkeyes 10-6 on Oct. 3 when Wisconsin turned the ball over four times -- all by Wisconsin QB Joel Stave (two picks, two fumbles, one on Iowa's 1-yard line). It's hard to see Iowa losing twice more this season, while it's pretty easy to see Wisconsin winning out. After this game, UW is at Maryland, hosts Northwestern and at Minnesota. The Badgers will be favorites in all of them.
UW comes off a 24-13 win at Illinois last Saturday. Stave left the game in the first quarter with a possible concussion and backup Bart Houston was very good in his place, going 27-for-33 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Houston, a junior, had thrown just 13 passes in his collegiate career. Wisconsin held the ball for a season-high 40:09 and was 9-for-15 on third down, a season-high 60 percent. Defensively, Wisconsin held Illinois to a season-low 13 points. It was the second straight game UW did that to an opponent. Since that season-opening loss to Alabama, Wisconsin is allowing only 7.7 points per game.
It appears that Stave will be good to go against Rutgers as he has been cleared of any possible concussions and first-year coach Paul Chryst said there's no quarterback controversy with Stave healthy. Stave is completing 61.7 percent of his passes and averaging 219.6 yards per game with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. However, the Badgers are now without Stave's center, Dan Voltz, for the rest of the season due to a right knee injury. Receiver Robert Wheelwright also could miss the rest of the year with a leg injury. He has 28 catches for 369 yards and four scores.
Tailback Corey Clement, a preseason Heisman candidate, hasn't played since the season opener. First it was because of a groin injury, but that turned into sports hernia surgery. He was planning to travel to Illinois last week and maybe play, but the team left him home. The junior is from New Jersey so I'm sure playing Rutgers would have extra meaning.
No Bowl Likely For Rutgers
You hear some rumblings that Rutgers coach Kyle Flood might be in trouble after this season because that program has had one thing after another go wrong in 2015 -- including Flood being suspended three games earlier this season and fined $50,000 for violating university policy about contacting faculty about a player's academic status.
Missing a bowl game wouldn't help Flood's chances and that looks likely for Rutgers (3-4, 1-3). Obviously the Scarlet Knights are huge underdogs here. They also will be next week at Michigan and the following at home against Nebraska. Rutgers should be favored Nov. 21 at Army and Nov. 28 vs. Maryland, but if things go chalk that means only five wins and no bowl game.
Predictably, Rutgers was no match for No. 1 Ohio State last week in a 49-7 loss. Starting QB Chris Laviano had the roughest outing of his short career, completing 10-for-20 passes for 117 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. After missing a field goal on the opening drive of the game, Rutgers failed to get past OSU's 40-yard line on eight straight possessions. Flood inserted backup quarterback Hayden Rettig into the game on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Rettig completed 3-for-7 for 72 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in two drives against Buckeyes backups. Flood apparently will stick with Laviano as his starter. Rutgers has one of the nation's best receivers in Leonte Carroo, who has 24 catches for 527 yards and nine scores. He was suspended two games for an off-field problem.
Rutgers is 3-4 against the spread on college football picks and 3-4 O/U.
The teams met as co-Big Ten members for the first time last season in New Jersey and it wasn't close as the Badgers cruised 37-0 -- their only shutout of the season. Melvin Gordon, last season's NCAA rushing leader and Heisman runner-up and current San Diego Charger, rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Clement rushed for 131 and two scores of his own. Stave didn't do much, going 7-for-16 for 81 yards. The shutout loss was the first for Rutgers since 2002 -- a run of 147 games. The Scarlet Knights had only 139 total yards (63 passing) and eight first downs, never getting past the Wisconsin 26-yard line.
College Football Picks: Give the points, go 'under' the total at BetDSI. Wisconsin is 5-2 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a losing record. Rutgers is 2-7-1 ATS in its past 10 following a double-digit home loss. The 'under' is 4-0 in Wisconsin's past four vs. teams with a losing record. It is 4-1 in Rutgers' past five overall.