Week 4 of the college football slate doesn’t offer many marquee matchups. However, Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin offers plenty of excitement and intrigue. Kickoff is set for Noon Eastern Time on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago (ESPN).
This game could be closely contested, as oddsmakers currently make the Badgers a six and half point favorite over the Fighting Irish. Let’s break down each team’s offense and defense to see who has the edge in this iconic matchup.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
It’ll be interesting to see how Irish QB Jack Coan does against his former team. The 6-3 223 pound senior has played brilliantly so far by throwing for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. Keep in mind though that those numbers came against pretty mediocre defenses.
The Irish have to get better play out of their offensive line. All World running back Kyren Williams hasn’t had many holes to run through so far this season. The playmaking sophomore only has 211 rushing yards and two scores so far this year. The O-Line also must do a better job of protecting Coan, who has already been sacked 14 times in only three games!
Wisconsin’s defense has looked superb through its two games this season. They only gave up 16 points to the potent Penn State offense and only seven points against Eastern Michigan. This unit has four sacks and one interception on the young season. Look for Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to blitz his linebackers quite a bit to disrupt Coan.
Wisconsin Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz has played decent through two games but needs to clean up his turnovers. The 6-3 sophomore has thrown for 326 yards but has yet to throw a touchdown. As usual, the Badgers prefer to run the ball as much as possible and win the time of possession battle.
The Badgers offensive line is the big, physical type of unit that we’ve come to expect from this program. The big boys up front do a great job of giving running back Chez Mellusi plenty of nice running lanes. The 5-11 junior has 265 yards and two touchdowns already this season.
The Irish defense has looked shaky at times this season. They miss Clark Lea as evidenced by the fact that they gave up 38 points to Florida State and 29 points to Toledo! The main key to this game will be how well the Irish defense can contain the Badgers running game.
Our Pick: UNDER 46.5
We think Wisconsin wins this ballgame but the six-and-a-half-point spread seems a little high. However, we do like the Under quite a bit in this game.
The Badgers will run the ball at least 40 times in this game which will keep the clock moving quickly. Wisconsin held the ball for 42 minutes against Penn State and that could happen here against Notre Dame. Look for a big day for Mellusi and for Wisconsin to win 21-17.