Michigan State Spartans vs. Wisconsin Badgers
At Indianapolis, Indiana
Point Spread: Badgers -9.5
The Spartans were led by QB Kirk Cousins in the first meeting (290 yards, 3 TD passes) and look for the senior to lead them again. During MSU’s current four-game winning streak, the offense has produced 38.5 points-per-game and 423.8 yards of offense. They will need to continue that pace against a defense that wants to atone for their poor showing in the first encounter. However, Cousins (10-1 TD/INT ratio during last four games) is a streaky QB and is on one of his hot streaks now. WR B.J. Cunningham was productive in the first meeting (6-102-1) and has been Cousins’ top target all year (67-1,125-9). Look for him to be the first option target again this week. RB LeVeon Bell leads MSU with 794 yards rushing and 10 TDs despite being second on the team in carries.
Wisconsin has had a record-setting performance on offense on several fronts this year. Also on a four-game winning streak, they are led by QB Russell Wilson who has produced a jaw-dropping 28-3 TD/INT ratio. He leads the NCAA with a 192.9 QB rating and has tied the all-time mark with a TD pass in 36-straight games (tying former Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell’s mark). Two of his picks did come against the Spartans and he has to take better care of the ball in the rematch. WR Nick Toon has been his favorite target (52-788-9) and that shouldn’t change this week. Where this game will be decided is how the Badgers run the ball. Despite ranking 11th in rushing yards allowed and 7th in yards-per-carry allowed, MSU allowed 223 yards on the ground for a robust 5.6 yards-per-carry in the first matchup. The Spartans have to contain RB Montee Ball (248-1,622-29) whose 34 total TDs is second all time to Barry Sanders’ 39 in 1988. Ball has been an elusive back and MSU must contain him to have a chance to win the game.
Michigan State was coming off emotional games vs. Michigan and Ohio State before the first encounter and it showed in their run defense. Now they are a 10-point underdog despite coming back to win in that October game. This is the first Big Ten Championship Game and we feel the Spartans can do enough on offense and defense to keep this game close.
Take the Spartans