By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
All lines listed are as of publishing date. As always lines may change in the lead up to games so be sure to check.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl
#15 Western Michigan vs. #8 Wisconsin
Spread: Wisconsin -7.5
Spread: The Broncos are the nation’s other undefeated team. PJ Fleck has done a remarkable job of turning this program around and has them in a bowl game for the third consecutive year. The Badgers continue their run of consistency now having reached a bowl in 15 straight seasons. This match-up is interesting because the Broncos have been a high-octane, high-scoring offense all season, while the Badgers excel at keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Case in point, the Broncos have not scored fewer than 22 points in a game this season. Wisconsin has given up 20 or more points just three times.
The problem for the Broncos is they’re facing a big step up in competition here. The Broncos did play two Big Ten opponents (Northwestern and Illinois) this season and beat both. But, their combined score against those teams was 56-31. Wisconsin’s? 69-10. The Badgers defense dominated those two opponents. The Broncos passing attack, that has averaged 259.7 yards per game with QB Zach Terrell completing 70.7% of his passes, will go up against a Wisconsin defense that has allowed opponents to complete just 52% of their passes. The Badgers can get after the QB racking up 32 sacks this season, but the Broncos have protected Terrell well allowing just 14 sacks this season.
My question is: how will the Badgers move the football? Wisconsin’s defense will be stout, but the Badgers have been largely inept in the passing game this season and have been forced to rely on their rushing attack. The Broncos run defense has been average, allowing their opponents 151 yards per game and an alarming 4.7 yards per carry. As long as Wisconsin can open holes for their backs, the defense should be able to hold down the Broncos and cover this spread. Wisconsin -7.5
Total: Despite the Badgers defense, the Broncos haven’t been below 20 points all season and I think there will be a few big plays for them here that allow them to continue that streak. But, Wisconsin’s running game should be able to get going and Corey Clement should rip off a couple of big runs. We’ll say 34-24 Wisconsin. Over 53.5
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.