As the college football season gets closer, the lines on game day will start to be more interesting. For example, will the Steelers finally get some revenge against the Cleveland Browns, and can the Ravens keep up their undefeated streak?
There is one game that has fascinated bettors, sportsbooks, and fans alike, and that is the matchup between the No. 1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers and the No. 4 ranked Florida Gators. From a betting standpoint, this game has some very interesting factors. In fact, after the initial line was set, the betting public has shown amazing resolve in sticking with their picks, with only 4% of bets going against the point spread on September 14th.
Why Is This Game So Interesting?
To start with, the matchup between these two historic programs is something that draws attention. The Gators are the winningest program in the history of the sport, with 438 wins, while the Badgers are the only team to ever finish a season undefeated, going 15–0 in 1892. Plus, this game is being played in a week in which both teams are rested and at full strength, so there is that element of betting interest as well. Finally, the location of the game is something else. It’s in the heart of SEC country, so there is plenty of interest in this game from a college football perspective. But, on the opposite end of the country, with most NFL fans already bored at the prospect of another season of football, there is plenty of interest in this game from an NFL standpoint as well.
How Does The Odds Shake Out?
The betting public seems to be favoring Wisconsin, and that is reflected in the current line. The betting market has opened up, as evidenced by the fact that the line is currently set at a neutral margin of 3.5, or according to the popular sportsbooks Bovada and BetOnline, the ‘dogs (or betting on a team that is favored) are 3.5 points betting favorites in this game. That is not to say that there isn’t plenty of interest on the other side of the line as well; it’s just that the public is not being represented when it comes to betting on this game.
The Badgers Are 15–0, But …
As mentioned above, the Badgers are 15–0, having not lost a game since the season opener against North Texas on August 31, 2019. With 14 games remaining on the schedule, the Badgers are virtually assured of a spot in the College Football Playoff, having already locked up at least a tie for first in the Big Ten. While that winning streak is extremely impressive, it should be noted that they avoided Big Ten play during the streak, defeating only MAC schools and avoiding both Ohio State and Michigan, the top two teams in the conference. It is also important to note that four of their five losses were by 6 points or less.
The Gators Have A Record-Breaking 66–33–2 Overall Record
As noted above, the Gators are 4–0 against the spread this season and 6–2 against the over/under. They are averaging 45.8 points per game, which is second only to Virginia in the nation. The primary reasons for their success are simple: great coaching and recruiting, and a lot of offensive firepower. This season they have a brand new starting quarterback in Jordan Scarlett, and the unit around him has made big improvements, particularly in the last couple of games.
Which One Is More Likely To Surprise Us?
When it comes to college football, no team is more unpredictable than the Gators. They went from a 4–8 record in 2018 to a full house of surprises this season. With all the turnover at the quarterback position, it’s hard to know what to expect from the Gators moving forward. However, their win streak is a good indicator of what might be in store. Last year they finished with an overall record of 6–7–1, including going 4–5–1 straight-up and against the spread. In their wins they were 7–4 against the spread and 4–1 against the over/under. Look for their streak to come to an end in the next game, as they travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the struggling Ohio State Buckeyes. This game is very important to both teams, as it will determine which one is the favorite in the conference. Ohio State is 4–1 against the spread and 3–3 against the over/under, while the Gators are 5–0–1 against the spread and 4–1 against the over/under.
Key Betting Trends
While the betting public seems to be slowly drifting toward Wisconsin, there are still some interesting trends relating to this game. First, as mentioned above, the game is at a very important point in the season, as both teams are undefeated and at full strength. Second, the over/under has been trending closer to the over since early in the season, as evidenced by the fact that the betting lines have started to move away from –3.5, the current line. Third, both teams play in cold weather environments, with the Gators playing in the Canadian climate of Montreal and the Badgers playing in Duluth, Minnesota. Fourth, the betting public is showing interest in how many times each quarterback gets substituted. Tom Savage has been substituted only once so far this season, while Jordan Scarlett has been substituted 4 times. Finally, the Gators have played well on defense, limiting their opponents to 14.2 points per game, while allowing only 19.5 points per game themselves. The defense has especially been impressive in the last two weeks, shutting out South Carolina and then Clemson, bringing their combined score to 21 points. They have also forced at least three turnovers in each game this season, getting seven interceptions and 3.5 sacks on the year. Their defense ranks them third in the nation in turnovers forced and first in the nation in interceptions. For comparison, the Badgers have only forced 1.5 turnovers so far this season.
Even though the betting public seems to be slowly moving away from a Wisconsin – Florida matchup, there is still plenty of interest. However, the line is setting up nicely for the Badgers, due mainly to the fact that both teams are undefeated and at full strength. Also, keep an eye on how many times each quarterback gets substituted during the game; that has become an interesting trend for this game. Finally, the last two weeks have been very impressive for the Florida Gators defense, as they have shutout two top-15 opponents and limited their combined total to only 19 points. Despite all the turnover at the quarterback position, Ryan Day and co. have done a good job of instilling confidence in their players, and the results have been very positive. That confidence should continue as the Gators head into Big Ten play.