CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to take the snap against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Game breakdown and Best bets: Week 2 No. 19 Wisconsin vs. Washington State Cougars

With the opening week of the college football season in the books, it’s time for our week 2 game breakdown and best bets. Make sure to check out all of our content for this week’s game and any Badgers news throughout the season at badgernotes.com

The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers did precisely what was expected in their week one contest, shutting out the Illinois State Redbirds 38-0. Betting lines for the game became available a few hours before kickoff, with the Badgers covering as 36.5-point favorites (Always remember. Good teams win, but great teams cover).

For their week two matchup, the Badgers will take on the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, September 10th, at Camp Randall Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:30 pm CST(Fox).

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Game Breakdown

Washington State Cougars

Washington State is a step up in competition for the Badgers, taking on a Pac-12 school after playing an FCS opponent.

However, the Cougars also played an FCS opponent in week one and narrowly escaped with a victory defeating the Idaho Vandals 24-17.
Wisconsin is currently a heavy 17-point favorite, but don’t be surprised if that number increases before kickoff.

Washington State runs more of an Air-Raid offense, but former Badgers running back Nakia Watson had an impressive game in week one carrying the ball 18 times for 117 yards. Although, he did lose a fumble, one of three total turnovers by the Cougars against the Vandals.

The two most significant factors for the Cougar offense will be how they hold up against the pass rush of the Badgers (I don’t envision it going well – thoughts and prayers to the big fellas up front, they’re going to need it), and how QB Cam Ward plays.

Ward, who transferred from Incarnate Word (FCS), was one of the most prized quarterbacks in the transfer portal last year after throwing for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns, with only ten interceptions as a sophomore.

But his first game for the Cougars left much to be desired. Ward was all over the place throwing the ball, completing just 25 of 40 pass attempts for 215 yards (I almost choked on my white claw when I saw only 215 yards on FORTY pass attempts…yeah, I drink white claws. Sue me.) and three touchdowns.

The Badgers’ secondary looked shaky at some points in week one, but Ward will need to play the game of his life if the Cougars want a chance at winning this one.


Wisconsin Badgers

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Wisconsin offense, the biggest x-factor of the game is the offensive line play.

The Cougars allowed 62 yards on 34 rushing attempts (1.8 YPC), had seven sacks, twelve tackles for loss, and two interceptions against Idaho in week one.

The talent level was nowhere near that of the Badger o-line (or Braelon Allen, who is a fucking monster), but impressive nonetheless.
All of the Badger o-lineman played at an elite level against the Redbirds in week one.

According to PFF, QB Graham Mertz wasn’t pressured all game, and Wisconsin posted a team total of 221 rushing yards on 37 carries (6.0 YPC).

It should be another great day for the offense if they can repeat that performance.


Best Bets

With a lot more action available on the betting market, here are my best bets for the week two showdown between the Wisconsin Badgers and Washington State Cougars.

  • Wisconsin -17 (-110)* – The Cougars will keep this one close for a little bit, but I’m going to lay the points here. The physicality of the Badgers will be too much for the Cougars to handle.
  • Under 49.5 (-110)* – 7 of the 13 games the Badgers played last year went under the total. Some of that was due to shaky QB play from Graham Mertz, but I’ll chalk most of it up to playing great defense and controlling the clock with the run game. I see the same happening on Saturday.
  • Under 17.5 2nd Half Total (+172)* – If the Badgers are winning the game at the half, I see  them trying to bleed the clock out as much as possible.
  • Defensive or Special Teams TD Scored (Wisconsin +221)** – This is my favorite bet of the week. There’s a great chance the defense will find its way back to the endzone this week. Especially if Cam Ward plays poorly, special teams touchdowns are the most random plays in all of football, so don’t bank on that. But it’s nice to have that as a backup if the defense can’t score.

*odds via mybookie.ag

**odds via DraftKings Sportsbook


You can follow me on Twitter @FrznPizzaCooper
There you’ll find jokes, plenty of music takes, offensive line talk (especially anything Larry Allen related), Larry Bird highlights (I got a thing for Larry’s what can I say), and of course my work for badgernotes.com.

Gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER. Always bet responsibly.

Badgers Country. Let’s ride.

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