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Wisconsin vs Penn State Over/Under Bet for Big Ten Championship

#6 Wisconsin Badgers(10-2) @ #7 Penn State Nittany Lions(10-2)

  • Where: Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis, IN (Neutral Site)
  • When: December 3, 2016 8:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Wisconsin (-3) Penn State (+3)
  • Moneyline: Wisconsin (-155) Penn State (+135)
  • Over / Under: Over 47 (-110) vs Under 47 (-110)

Just as student-athletes have learned to take advantage of the system, successful head coaches now exist as commodities, always seeking to climb another rung up the ladder while branding their own angle and message. Penn State HC James Franklin helped turn around a sleepy Vanderbilt program, then bolted for a prestigious job at a traditional powerhouse.

Franklin’s brand is a theme of physicality and toughness, that no matter who goes down or what adversity is faced, you can overcome any size and polish deficiency with hard work and by-golly smash-mouth play in the trenches.

2016-17 has seemed to bear that out, as the Nittany Lions survived an injury-riddled year to become a division champion and a fringe CFP hopeful. At one point in early October, PSU played without all 3 of its starting linebackers. A walk-on, Brandon Smith, started at middle linebacker on October 1st in a win over Minnesota. A week later, Smith was Defensive Player of the Week in the Big 10 after recording 14 tackles and picking off a pass against Maryland.

But Franklin’s rallying cry may have its limits. As Knute Rockne said, if a program is absolutely 100% confident of something (in this case, controlling the LOS with guts and slobber-knockery) the worst thing that can happen to them is to have someone pop that balloon.

And is Wisconsin a-poppin’. A vintage physical, brutish Badger team with a terrific backfield, UW began the season with a rousing win over LSU and ran their record to 4-0. A mid-season slump saw the squad lose heart-breakers to OSU and Michigan, then squeak by good teams like Iowa and Northwestern. But in the past few weeks, the “Whisky” offense has gotten cranked up with results of 48-3 over Illinois and 49-20 over Purdue, a game in which rushers gained 221 yards.

Styles make fights. The 1 type of team that can knock off Penn State right now can block, tackle and match the Nittany Lions body punch for body punch.

Wisconsin is the favorite at -155 on the ML, with an O/U of 47 at Bovada.

Wisconsin – Healthy at Most Important Position?

A fly-in-the-ointment in the Badgers’ championship bid is an injury at QB, where season-starter Alex Hornibrook suffered a concussion against Minnesota and is currently questionable while undergoing protocol. While that makes room for tall senior QB Bart Houston who has also prospered in 2016-17, it does leave the team thin at a formerly deep and key position.

Whichever quarterback, or quarterbacks are taking snaps for the Badgers in Indianapolis, they should be buoyed by a powerful run attack. Bruising fire-plug and 1000+ yard rusher Corey Clement has been a TD machine with 13 tallies on the year, and junior WR Jazz Peavy is a threat on jet-sweeps and reverses with 15.5 ypc on 17 rushes.

Does PSU have a Plan B?

The Nittany Lions are missing 3 offensive tackles, including starter Brendan Mahon with an undisclosed injury. That could be a sign of trouble, especially since J.J. Watt’s younger brother T.J. is starting at OLB for the Badgers, and has recorded 9 1/2 sacks on the season.

Starting RB Saquon Barkley is expected to play on Saturday, but was banged up in last week’s lopsided win over MSU. Barkley’s production was already flagging behind a bruised OL. If the ground game is stymied, PSU will be forced to lean on QB Trace McSorley, who has put up prodigious passing stats in ’16-17 and rushed for 63 yards in the team’s upset win of Ohio State.

A clever halftime in-play would involve a couple of units on Wisconsin, regardless of the score, if it appears the 2nd-string Penn State OL has little chance of blocking the Badger front-7 in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Whisky Winner 

Just as Oklahoma met its match against 2 athletically-superior schools (Houston and Ohio State), a limping Nittany Lions roster will likely fall to the firepower and intensity of Wisconsin on a neutral field.

The over/under is a less-safe play. Though the match-up involves 2 strong defenses and run-heavy teams who will grind the clock, in this era there is a coin-flip chance that any FBS game between contenders will result in at least 48 total points scored.

But the Badgers are a value bet to win in Indiana and reach a New Year’s Six bowl.

Take Wisconsin on the money line.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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