College Football action on Saturday afternoon and we will see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, from the Independent ranks, grapple with the Wisconsin Badgers from the Big 10 Conference. The Irish enter this contest at 3-0 on the year while the Badgers come in at 1-1. This contest will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Fighting Irish Still Looking For A Complete GameThe Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 3-0 on the year but they are still looking to put together a complete game. They barely beat woeful Florida State to open the season and needed a late TD to beat Toledo from the MAC in game two. Last week, they got a bit closer to a complete game as they beat Purdue 27-13 and covered the 7.5 point spread in the process. This will be their toughest test to date and if they have any shot at all at making the NCAA Playoffs, they must win this game.
Last year, it was their ground game that led them as they ranked 21st in the nation, but Notre Dame has struggled to get their ground game going this year as they come in ranked 115th in the nation in that department. Kyren Williams rushed for 1125 yards last year but has just 211 yards through three games so far this year. The big question coming into the year was whether former Jack Coan could replace Ian Book and so far the returns have been excellent. Coan threw for 223 yards with two TDs and no INTs in the win over Purdue and he now has thrown for 828 yards with eight TDs and just two INTs on the year. This is a huge game for Coan as he is facing his former team. Last year, he threw 17 TDs with just four INTs for the Badgers. The Irish rank 21st in the nation in passing at 302 ypg.
Coan has a favorite receiver in Michael Mayer, who has 17 catches for 206 yards through three games so far. Still, Notre Dame needs to get their running game going so they have more balance on offense. The defense is where the Irish were expected to excel but it has not been as expected so far. They may be turning the corning as Notre Dame allowed just 348 yards and 13 points in the win over Purdue, after giving up 795 yards and 67 points through their first two games. The pass defense needs to improve as they are 84th in that department, but Notre Dame is facing a more run-oriented team in this one.
Badgers Bounce Back Against Eastern MichiganThe Wisconsin Badgers took a tough 16-10 home loss to Penn State to start the year but they were able to bounce back with a 34-7 win over Eastern Michigan a couple of weeks ago. The Badgers are now at 1-1 on the year and while they may not have a shot at the playoffs, a win over a ranked Notre Dame squad would be a nice feather in their cap this year.
The Badgers have looked great on the defensive side of the ball so far as they have allowed just 23 points and 194.5 yards of total offense per game. their run defense has allowed just 33 ypg through two games, which is tops in the nation and it could have a good showing against a Notre Dame team that has struggled to run the ball in the early going. The Irish will look to test this run defense and nd then try and hit the Badgers with some big plays over the top. This will be the toughest passing game the Badgers will have faced thus far.
Recommend volume at full blast for this one 🧨 pic.twitter.com/VEOVv6lytG— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 21, 2021
Wisconsin has always been led by a very good ground game and this year has been no different. They enter this contest ranked 11th in the nation in rushing at 263 ypg, compared to 108th in the land in passing at 175.5 ypg. Chez Mellusi is not a household name but he soon will be after rushing for 273 yards through the first two games. The Irish do have a solid defensive line, but they have yet to face an offensive line like that of the Badgers. Graham Mertz took over for Coan last year he had a decent season. This year he has thrown for 326 yards but he has no TDs and two INTs. He will have to be better than that in this one and he could have a nice game if the running game does its job.
Trends Are Courtesy Of The Playbook Newsletter Brian Kelly is:
- 36-21-2 ATS as an underdog
- 6-2 ATS as a Dog when having a better record than his opponent.
Trends Are Courtesy Of Covers.com Wisconsin is:
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games as a favorite
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
No this is not a homer pick. Yes, I am a huge Notre Dame fan, but I honestly feel that this line is way out of whack. Yes, the Irish have not looked great in the early going, but the Badgers have not been that dominant. We also have Jack Coan going up against his former team and he will have extra motivation in this one. Coan has had a solid season so far and he should have a nice game in this one, especially once the running game gets going. Kyren Williams has not been as good as last year, but the talent is there and he will pose the toughest threat to the Badger run defense yet. The Badgers can run the ball, but the Notre Dame defense has been better against the run than the pass and Wisconsin cannot throw the ball a lick. Notre Dame has all the tools in to keep this one within a TD and possibly win the game outright.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Irish have had success throwing the ball this year, but they will need to run the ball a bit more in order to loosen up a tough Wisconsin defense. That will help eat up some of the clock. The Badgers are not a throwing team and they will run plenty here. Notre Dame has been decent against the run and I can see their defense having success against the Wisconsin ground game. I know that Jack Coan will be looking to have a huge game in this one, but it is not easy navigating through a Wisconsin defense that has been very stout in the early going. They did allow just 16 points to a high-powered Penn State offense in game one of this season. This is also a huge game for both teams and that means a more conservative game plan. Lastly, the Under is 5-0 in Notre Dame's last 5 neutral site games and 6-1 in Wisconsin's last 7 games as a favorite.