Purdue Boilermakers vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Date and Time: Saturday, October 14, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
Opening College Football Odds: Wisconsin -18
Purdue vs. Wisconsin TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
At least the Badgers are successfully showing some resolve to the Selection Committee. They were down at halftime against Northwestern and were involved in a 17-17 game against Nebraska before blowing the doors off of both teams late on.
Of course, you could argue that a team with CFP aspirations shouldn't be struggling against teams like the Wildcats and Cornhuskers in the first place.
The hero this season for the Badgers has clearly been freshman Jonathan Taylor. Taylor is seemingly the next in line of great, plodding Wisconsin backs. He rumbled for 249 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Cornhuskers, and he now has 767 yards and nine scores on the season on just 97 rushes.
Purdue is showing some grit this year, too. The team has beaten Ohio, Missouri and Minnesota, and its losses against Louisville and Michigan were both competitive. Jeff Brohm clearly has this team pointing in the right direction with marked improvements on both sides of the ball.
A lot of focus is on the quarterback duo of David Blough and Elijah Sindelar, but the credit really should go out to this defense. The Boilermakers are forcing a ton of turnovers and converting those into game-changing plays. Ja'Whaun Bentley intercepted Conor Rhoda and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown in the dying seconds of play last week against Minnesota. That's exactly the type of big play Purdue keeps coming up with when it wins games, a trait that shouldn't be underestimated going against one of the best 10 or 15 teams in America.
The big issue against Wisconsin is that it doesn't beat itself. Alex Hornibrook isn't good, and he's prone to picks when he's forced to put the ball in the air a ton. That isn't going to happen often, though. The Badgers are running the ball on 68 percent of their plays this year, and most of those runs are straight down the throats of opposing defenses.
The Boilermakers have allowed just six rushing touchdowns this year, but this could be a game in which they allow a lot more than their 4.06 yards per carry. Remember that the Purdue defense has only faced an average of 37.2 rushing attempts per game this season, and many of those have come from quarterbacks. This Wisconsin team is averaging 46.8 rushing attempts per game, and over 43 of those are coming from tailbacks.
Purdue vs. Wisconsin Free Picks
This game feels like one where the points offered at the best internet sportsbooks will end up being just enough to stay inside the number.
We know that Purdue is going to at least move the ball a little bit, but we don't think that it has the chops up front defensively to slow down Wisconsin. Last year when these two teams met in West Lafayette, Wisconsin rumbled for 221 yards. A similar performance this year by Taylor and the Wisky ground game should lead to a relatively sizeable victory.
That said, the Badgers aren't worthy of being favored by 18-points. They're playing with fire the way that they're allowing teams to hang in there during the first half.
Sure, Wisconsin is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings in this series, but we think that the Boilermakers faithful will at least have a cover to celebrate at Camp Randall.
College Football ATS Pick: Purdue +18 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 14