Vegas Odds & NCAA Football Predictions: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs Wisconsin Badgers (August 31st, 2018)
#4 Wisconsin Opens Playoff Pursuit Against Western Kentucky
The Wisconsin Badgers came agonizingly close to making the final four playoffs last year and having a perfect regular season. Instead, they lost the conference final handily to Ohio State 27-12 which opened the door for Alabama to claim the last spot and we know how that turned out.
They did however close the season on a high note, beating Miami on their home turf in the Orange Bowl. What’s more, Badgers QB Alex Hornibrook played arguably his best game of the season completing 67.6% of his passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
If he can bring that kind of performance to the field this season to complement the Heisman candidacy of their running back Jonathan Taylor, this team could very well be the last one standing.
Taylor has superstar capabilities written all over him and last year as a freshman he ran for 1977 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns. He finished 6th in the Heisman voting.
He’ll be running behind an offensive line that returns three players who finished on the first or second team All-America lists.
Western Kentucky was a bowl team last year, but it came after a 6-6 regular season in the CUSA. It was a down year in Mike Sanford’s inaugural season as coach. He took over from Jeff Brohn who got plucked by Purdue after leading the Hilltoppers to a 12 and 11-win season in his second and third year at the helm.
This team was led by a great quarterback last year in Mike White who has since graduated to the Dallas Cowboys after throwing for over 4000 yards. Drew Eckels is taking over the reigns in his junior season after completing 11 passes last year. Making his job tougher is that there is 100% turnover at each of the skill positions.
Their run defense gave up 170.3 YPG last year and will be severely tested by Taylor in this one.
Wisconsin is a massive 36.5-point favorites in this one. I think they’ll cruise to an easy win, but the lack of some key assets in the passing game and the potential for garbage points has me liking Western Kentucky to cover. The Pick: Wisconsin 45-14.