Wisconsin Takes On LSU for One of the Biggest Games in Week 1

David Lawrence

Saturday, July 19, 2014 5:36 AM GMT

The biggest game of week one of the new college football season is going to take place at a neutral site. Wisconsin of the Big Ten and LSU of the SEC will meet in Houston, in a game that makes a lot of college football fans that much more excited about the arrival of Labor Day weekend. 

Two teams that love to run the football in a power-oriented manner are going to test each other’s strength in the trenches. It’s going to be an old-fashioned slugfest in Texas.

 

Wisconsin Badgers vs. LSU Tigers – Game in Houston

Saturday, August 30th – 9:05 PM ET

NCAA Football Odds: LSU -6.5

 

The Badgers Can Win Because…
They love to run the ball, and in a game decided by running the ball, they stand a very good chance of winning. The run game is Wisconsin’s strength, and since the Badgers have an elite running back in their stable, their offensive line has a chance to become the difference in this game. Melvin Gordon is the breakaway back for Wisconsin, the latest in a long line of Badger ballcarriers who is unceasingly, tirelessly, effective. Gordon is a patient runner who sets up his blocks and waits for running lanes to develop. Once he gets into those lanes, however, he has a great burst which can get him past the layer of linebackers and into the secondary. LSU will face a significant challenge in trying to prevent Gordon from making big plays.

The other factor that is likely to help Wisconsin before the night is over in Houston is that LSU is breaking in a brand new quarterback. Brandon Harris, a freshman, is drawing rave reviews during the offseason, but when a real game arrives, the pressure of the situation can prove to be overwhelming. It’s anything but certain if Harris is ready to perform in the spotlight. If he struggles, Wisconsin will like its chances.

 

The Tigers Can Win Because…
They have the front seven on defense that can stand up to Wisconsin’s running game. LSU coach Les Miles, at Southeastern Conference Media Days, said to reporters that he loved his team’s defensive line this season. Miles expressed great confidence in his front seven to be strong against the run and form the backbone of the Tigers’ defense. Coaches are often inclined to express confidence in their team during the offseason and in exchanges with the media, but Miles placed a lot of focus on his defensive line and seemed to be even more certain that he’ll have great players at these positions. If LSU’s defensive line is as good as advertised, Wisconsin loses its one basic offensive advantage. If the Badgers are forced into predictable passing situations, returning quarterback Joel Stave might not be the answer. Stave really struggled late last season, especially in a shocking home-field loss to Penn State that cost the Badgers a bigger bowl bid. Even though LSU is starting a new quarterback, it is no worse off than Wisconsin at that position.

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Outlook & NCAA Football Betting Prediction
If the spread of almost a touchdown feels too large, and it does, it does seem unlikely that Wisconsin is going to be able to score enough on LSU to win unless it gets a plus-two or larger turnover differential. Right now, LSU on the money line and Wisconsin against the spread seems like the right combination pick.

NCAA Football Picks: Wisconsin +6.5 at TheGreek