Rogers' EARLY Monday Bowl MASSACRE >> Off Winning NFL Sunday!
Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin,
01/02/2017 13:00 EDT,
Score: 16 - 24
Point Spread: -7½/-107 Wisconsin
The set-up: Wisconsin led Penn State 28-7 just before halftime of the Big Ten championship game but blew its lead and the entire game, falling 38-31. The Badgers will never know for sure if a win in that game would have earned them a spot in the College Football Playoff but there is no time to cry over spilled milk as Wisconsin is in Dallas for a Jan. 2 matchup against undefeated Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. The Broncos are enjoying the best season in school history and can complete a perfect 14-0 year with an upset, after going 17-21 during head coach P.J. Fleck's first three seasons at Western Michigan.
Western Michigan: The Broncos have an impressive trio at the offensive skill positions, led by QB Zach Terrell (3,376 passing yards on a 70.8 completion percentage with 32 TDs and just 3 INTs), All-American WR Corey Davis (91 catches for 1,427 yards with 18 TDs) and RB Jarvion Franklin (1,300 rushing yards on 5.4 YPC with 12 TDs). The running game balances Terrell's passing well, averaging 237.0 YPG (5.1 YPC) to rank 19th. Western Michigan led the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense at 19.5 PPG (that ranked 14th in nation) on 353.0 YPG, which ranked 26th, overall, A real key to the team's perfect season was the Broncos ranking second in the nation in turnover margin at plus-19.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have long been known as a smash-mouth offensive team with an excellent defense. Senior RB Corey Clement has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of the last eight games and will take 1,304 rushing yards (on YPC) with 14 TDs into this game. The Wisconsin rushing game (204.5 YPG ranks 40th) helps take the pressure off the Badgers' inconsistent QBs, with Wisconsin ranking 104th with 179.2 YPG through the air. Alex Hornibrook (58.1 percent completions with 8 TDs and 7 INT) missed the Big Ten title game loss to Penn State with a head injury but will be ready to play versus the Broncos. The defense allows 15.5 PPG (4th) on 303.0 YPG (7th).
The pick: During its Cinderella run, WMU has knocked off Big Ten opponents like Northwestern and Illinois but Wisconsin is a 'horse of a different color.' The Broncos carry the No. 15 ranking in the College Football Playoff poll into their third game of the season against a Big Ten team but Wisconsin is easily the team's toughest test all season (a top-10 ranking in the AP poll could await WMU if the Broncos win). However, I'm not convinced the Broncos can compete in the trenches with the Badgers over four quarters or even mentally in this kind of "big-game" situation. After all, Ohio U played WMU toe-to-toe in the MAC title game. Make Wisconsin a 10* play.