2012 College Football Picks: Ohio St @ Wisconsin Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free College Football Picks 11/17/2012: One of the budding rivalries in the Big Ten will add another chapter this weekend when the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) travel to Madison to face the defending conference champion Wisconsin Badgers (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten). Under normal circumstances, the game would be a battle for control of the Leaders Division. However, the Badgers have already clinched the division crown thanks to postseason bans to both Ohio State and Penn State. That being said, there is still a lot on the line in Saturday’s meeting, especially for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has an outside shot of winning the AP national championship if they continue to run the table, and quarterback Braxton Miller is still hanging on in the Heisman race. Throw in the fact that these two programs just seem to meet with a lot at stake every year, and bragging rights alone usually brings out the best in both sides. Not surprisingly, oddsmakers are expecting a tight one, and the Badgers are two-point favorites on their home field.
For the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer’s offense has been as good as advertised. Ohio State enters Saturday’s game with the eighth-best rushing offense and 11th-best scoring offense, averaging 39.9 points per game. Miller has been the focal point of the attack, throwing for 1,753 yards and 14 scores and rushing 1,166 yards and 13 scores. Meanwhile, running back Carlos Hyde has been coming on strong in recent weeks and has rushed for 13 scores of his own. Of course, the Buckeyes have needed their dynamic duo to pile up yards and touchdowns to make up for a defense that has been average at best. Ohio State is allowing opponents to score 23.9 points per game, and each of the team’s last five opponents has scored at least 22 points.
Ironically, Wisconsin has taken an opposite approach this season. After having one of the top offenses in the country last year, the Badgers have become mainly a power running team now that quarterback Russell Wilson is the NFL. Workhorse Montee Ball and change-of-pace back James White have helped Wisconsin have a top-20 rushing attack this year, but a lack of balance has resulted in an average offense that isn’t even averaging 30 points per game. Injuries haven’t helped the situation as both transfer Danny O’Brien and freshman Joel Stave have gone down, leaving fifth-year senior Curt Phillips to start. On the flip side, Wisconsin’s defense has been stout this year, ranking 12th in the country in scoring at just 17.4 per game.
The Buckeyes Win If:
Miller has been a one-man offensive weapon all year for Ohio State, and in recent weeks, Hyde has joined the party. If Hyde can continue to carry the load between the tackles, it is going to open up big play opportunities for Miller on the ground and through the air. Defensively, the Buckeyes have to keep Ball and the Wisconsin running game in check. In particular, Ohio State needs to win on first down, forcing the Badgers into passing situations. The Buckeyes’ defense has had plenty of holes this season, but even their unit is capable of containing a third-string QB. If OSU can make sure this game is decided by which QB can make more plays instead of by which running game is better, the Buckeyes are going to escape one of the toughest stadiums in college football with a victory.
The Badgers Win If:
For the Badgers, establishing Ball and the power running game is the single most important step to knocking off Ohio State. Running ball will keep Miller and the high-powered OSU offense on the sidelines, and it will also keep Phillips from having to do more than he is comfortable with in just his second start of the year. When the Wisconsin defense is on the field, making Miller into a passer and limiting his big plays outside of the pocket will be crucial. If Ball has a big game and Miller doesn’t, Wisconsin will come away with the win.
The Buckeyes have made many trips to Wisconsin in contention for a national title only to leave with their championship hopes dashed. This year is far from the typical scenario, but the undefeated Buckeyes could be walking into a trap nonetheless. Wisconsin’s defense has been on fire recently, holding five straight opponents to 14 points or less. Miller and company are likely to top that total, but OSU certainly can’t count on 30-plus points Saturday. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s defense has been shaky on the road, and the Buckeyes allowed 49 points to a 4-6 Indiana team. Wisconsin’s offense isn’t great, but with Ball and White in the backfield, it certainly has more firepower than the Hoosiers’ offense that has only topped 30 points in conference play once this year. Throw in the always-hostile atmosphere in Madison, and Miller won’t be able to make enough plays to stop the Badgers from running by the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Wisconsin Badgers (-2) Cover the Spread
Ohio St @ Wisconsin Vegas Odds and Total
Line: Wisconsin -2.5
Total: Over/Under 51.5
Television: 3:30 PM EST on ABC
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