Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 4:15 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Purdue +6 -106 over Wisconsin
7:00 PM EST. We’re going to split this one up and play Purdue on the money-line for 1 unit and we’ll take back the points for another unit.
Color us unimpressed by the Wisconsin Badgers. This is a classic overreaction, based mostly on pre-season evaluation, a high-profile coaching hire, and a shallow record difference. The reality is the Purdue Boilermakers and Wisconsin Badgers aren't that far apart in talent or potential. We'll get to the Badgers in a second; let's cover the Boilermakers and why we expect them to cover.
Last week, Purdue lost their second home game because of bad mistakes. Two first half fumbles led to 14 Syracuse points, and the first half ended with an interception by QB Hudson Card when the Boilermakers were driving to score. A 21-7 deficit at the half was too much for Purdue to overcome, as Syracuse took advantage by establishing a formidable run-game and choking the clock. A whopping 11 penalties for 127 yards didn't help.
Purdue's new coach Ryan Walters, a former Colorado safety and one of the most sought after hires in the country, wasn't happy about the Boilermakers' performance last week. There's still plenty of reason to believe we'll see a better showing from Purdue at home Friday night, however, especially since this is the Big Ten opener for the home team. Purdie’s success depends on transfer QB Hudson Card.
Card, a touted four-star prospect, transferred from Texas this offseason. At Austin Card was proficient when he played, throwing 70-102 for 899 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. When it hasn't committed turnovers, the Purdue offense has looked very formidable with Card under the helm. He's thrown for a 65.45% completion percentage thus far, and their offense is averaging just under 400 yards per game. Purdue's opening schedule hasn't been easy. They took on Mountain West elite Fresno State in a close opening loss, followed by an impressive win at Virginia Tech in Week 2. But this wager is less about Purdue and their capabilities - that's easy to see - this is about an overrated Wisconsin squad getting far too much love.
We're not foolish to the fact that Wisconsin is a program on the rise. Historically good defense in recent years has received the complement of former Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell, the winningest coach in Bearkat history and the only coach to ever bring a Group of Five program to the CFB Playoff. The results have been relatively instant - the Badgers are a top 40 offense in points per game, yards per game, and yards per play. They're also the #1 team in the country in red zone efficiency thus far. Purdue will have their challenges, particularly with an under-experienced secondary.
It's impossible to know how good the Wisconsin defense is with the schedule they've been gifted to this point. Wisconsin drew Buffalo first, an 0-3 MAC team that lost to Fordham this season (yikes), and an average Sun Belt squad in Georgia Southern. The Badgers were 20.5 point favorites against the Eagles and only covered by 1/2 point despite the underdog losing the turnover battle 0-6. Washington State was their only formidable opponent, and Wisconsin lost by 9 points. Even with a soft opening schedule, the Badgers rank 70th in opponent yards per game, 64th in opponent third down conversion rate, and 107th in opponent pass yards per game. Hudson Card and the Purdue offense is due positive regression at home after a sloppy performance in Syracuse. We're far from convinced that Fickell's program has the necessary talent or coaching to keep the Boilermakers out of range.
Last year, Purdue lost 35-24 in Madison. They outgained the Badgers 431-381 in yards, 21-16 in first downs, and 35:00-25:00 in time of possession, but they lost the turnover battle 3-1. Remarkably, Purdue hasn't beaten Wisconsin since 2003. They came close last season. This is a marquee game for the Boilermakers. At home and behind a QB and coach out to prove they're legitimacy, a close Big Ten battle is in the cards and we wouldn't be shocked at all if the Boilermakers won straight up.
Officially: Purdue +200 for 1 unit
Purdue +6 -106 (1.06 units to win 1).
Purdue +6 -104 (Risking 2.04 units - To Win: 1.96)