The Wisconsin Badgers know how to take care of business against lesser opponents, winning their last 45 meetings with non-Power Five foes, a streak that stretches back to 2003. The Badgers open their 2018 season as big betting favorites against another such opponent, Western Kentucky, Friday night at Camp Randall.
College football point spread: The Badgers opened as 33-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 40.6-14.0 Badgers (College football picks on every game)
Why the WKU Hilltoppers can cover the spread
After going 23-5 straight up and 17-10-1 against the spread the previous two seasons Western Kentucky is trying to bounce back from a 6-7 campaign last season. But the regression didn't exactly come as a surprise, following the departure of head coach Jeff Brohm and more than half the starters on the team.
This year the Hilltoppers return 10 starters, one more than last year, for their second season under coach Mike Sanford Jr. Only three starters are back on offense, so there are holes to fill on that side of the ball. But seven are back, including six of last year's top seven tacklers, on a defense that held opponents to 377 yards per game.
The last time Western Kentucky was dogged by this many points it actually gave Alabama a decent game two seasons ago and pushed a 28-point spread.
Why the Wisconsin Badgers can cover the spread
Wisconsin returns 13 starters this season from a team that finished 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS last season and won the Orange Bowl. Nine starters are back on offense, led by junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook, running back Jonathan Taylor (1,977 yards rushing last year) and all five along what could be the best offensive line in the country.
And while only four starters are back on a defense that held foes to 262 yards and 14 points per game last year, that unit is not expected to suffer a regression. The Badgers are 34-7 SU and 26-14-1 in three seasons under head coach Paul Chryst.
Smart betting pick
Wisconsin is also 20-3 SU and 16-6-1 ATS with Hornibrook as the starter at quarterback. He gets help from a potent running game and a great defense, but it's a nice team effort. Western Kentucky, on the other hand, has too many holes to fill at the moment. This one may be close for a half or so but the Badgers will pull away and probably cover the spread.
College football betting trends
Wisconsin is 16-0 SU in its last 16 games as a double digit favorite.
The total has gone over in six of Western Kentucky's last eight games.
Western Kentucky is 3-28 SU in its last 31 games as a double digit underdog.
All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.