Undefeated Underdog Western Michigan Offers Great Value vs. Wisconsin At Cotton Bowl

Western Michigan Broncos Celebrate

Ross Benjamin

Monday, December 19, 2016 2:13 PM GMT

Will Western Michigan be up to the task when facing Wisconsin in the 2017 Cotton Bowl? Ross Benjamin emphatically answers that question, and so much more in his insightful betting preview article.

Ross Benjamin’s 2016 College Football Bowl Record: 49-24 ATS (67.1%).

Western Michigan Broncos vs. Wisconsin Badgers

There’s certainly a fascinating story line surrounding the upcoming 2017 Cotton Bowl. After all, it’s rare to see a team from the Mid-America Conference playing in a major bowl game, and that’s what’s about to occur when Western Michigan faces Wisconsin. Western Michigan earned an invite to a “New Year’s 6 Bowl Game” by compiling a spotless 13-0 record. Taking on Wisconsin will be unequivocally their toughest task to date. The game is set to take place on Monday, January 2nd at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It’s a scheduled 1:00 PM ET opening kickoff, and the contest will be televised by ESPN. This will be the first meeting between these schools on the gridiron since 2000.

At the time of this writing, college football betting odds at Intertops.com has Wisconsin as a 7.5-point favorite, and there’s a posted total of 54.0. It marks just the second time this season in which Western Michigan has been installed as an underdog. The only other time occurred during their season opening 22-21 win at Northwestern. The total of 54.0 is a season high for Wisconsin. Their previous highest total was 52.0 on 9/17 versus Georgia State. As a matter of fact, 12 of Wisconsin’s 13 games this season had a total of 48.5 or less.

 

Cinderella Broncos

Western Michigan will look to complete what’s been an absolute dream season to this point. Although their strength of schedule leaves a lot to be desired, there’s no doubt they’ve earned the right to be playing in this prestigious and storied bowl game. Keep in mind, they’ve already beaten 2 Big 10 opponents already this season, and each of those victories came on the road. The Broncos defeated Northwestern 22-21 in their season opener, and 2 weeks later routed Illinois 34-10. Not only is Western Michigan 13-0, but they’ve covered in 9 of those 13 contests.

 

Will the Badgers be Motivated?

Unlink their Cotton Bowl adversary, Wisconsin played an extremely challenging schedule, and still managed to go 10-3. Their only 3 defeats came against #2 Ohio State in overtime, at #5 Michigan by a narrow 14-7 margin, and in the Big Ten Championship Game versus #5 Penn State. The manner of which they lost to Penn State is a cause for concern. Wisconsin squandered a 28-7 first-half lead in that contest and ended up on the short end of a 38-31 final score. The questions now become, how will they respond from such a disappointing defeat, and just how motivated they’ll be against a MAC opponent?

 

Final Opinion and Pick

After blowing a 21-point lead in the Big Ten Championship Game, Wisconsin went from playing in a Ross Bowl matchup against USC to now facing upstart Western Michigan. If Wisconsin is ready to play mentally, they should win this game easily. However, I don’t believe that will be the case, and for reasons already alluded to.

This will be an equivalent of a Super Bowl for Western Michigan. I trust they’ll give Wisconsin all they can handle, and then some. An outright upset wouldn’t shock me at all, but there’s no sense in getting greedy. I’ll take the points for one of my college football bowl predictions.

Free College Football Pick: Western Michigan +7.5Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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