Week 2 of Jim Leonhard’s reign as Wisconsin head coach finds the Badgers on the road again facing another struggling Big Ten team.
Michigan State is 2-4, having beaten two MAC teams and four losers in a row, each losing by double figures.
Wisconsin hasn’t exactly shined this season, but last week’s convincing win over Northwestern at least gives the Badgers some juice (and a seven-point favorite along the way).
If Leonhard gets the win, he will not only lead the Badgers to over .500, but he will also be the first freshman coach from Wisconsin to win his first two Big Ten games.
The Spartans are reeling, so this is a good opportunity for Wisconsin to improve their record. However, a loss would kill off all those good vibes from last week and perhaps leave people wondering if a game of bowls is a realistic possibility.
Here are this week’s picks from around the web:
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 26, Michigan State 16. “Michigan State is getting killed on the lines. The offensive end isn’t doing anything in pass protection for the running game, and the defensive front isn’t as disruptive as it should be. The team will be buoyant enough at home to have a good first quarter, but the energy will start to fade. The Badgers will be balanced, but this week will be about the running game that takes over in the second half. Jim Leonhard’s defense will take care of everything else.”
Athlon Sports’ Chip Minnich: Wisconsin 28, Michigan State 14. “Both teams had high hopes going into the 2022 season, and both had to readjust expectations after some tough losses. It’s a challenge to gauge how good Wisconsin really is, considering the Badgers easily ran Northwestern, a team that may be the worst of the Big Ten this season. Michigan State has been battling injuries on the defensive side of the ball and is limited on offense due to their struggles running the ball. Look to Wisconsin to spoil the Spartans’ homecoming and help Leonhard improve to 2-0 as interim head coach.”
Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 22. “I can see how MSU can make this a game or even win it, having seen enough of Wisconsin this season. I’ve also seen enough of MSU to know that the only way to believe it right now is to see it. And things are just as likely to go wrong again. This is a massive game for the Spartans, maybe for the Mel Tucker program, maybe the tradeoff between fighting for bowl eligibility and 3-9 or 2-10. I don’t think the MSU players have given up. I just don’t know if, collectively and in key places, they’re good enough.”
Mark Wenzel of mlive.com: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 24. “The coaching change seemed to breathe some life into the Badgers, while the Spartans are stuck on their longest losing streak in three years. This looks like a winnable game for Michigan State if it can find a way to make stops, establish a running game look and get big plays from top receiver Jayden Reed and others. I don’t know how likely it is that the Spartans can accomplish those goals, but I think they’re in the game late and they just don’t have enough.”
Omaha World-Leader’s Sam McKewon: Wisconsin 35, Michigan State 17. “If MSU wants to bowl, it better win here. It’s not like Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, all to come, make it any easier. My hunch is that the Badgers respond optimistically to their interim head coach, Jim Leonhard.”
Max Escarpio of Bleacher Report: State of Michigan 26, Wisconsin 24.
Randy Johnson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Wisconsin 31, State of Michigan 21.
Robert Bondy of Spartans Wire: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 17. “On paper, Wisconsin isn’t a terrible matchup for the battered Spartans. The Badgers don’t have the explosive passing attack of the four teams that have played during this losing streak, but the Spartans’ inability to stop the run scares me here. Combine that with lackluster offensive play in recent weeks, and it’s hard to pick a Michigan State win. I don’t have this as a lockpick, but I’m leaning toward Wisconsin in this game.”
Wolverines Wire’s Trent Knoop: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 14. “I can really see either team winning this game. Graham Mertz looked masterful last weekend against Northwestern, but we’ve also seen him lose. Ultimately, I will take the Wisconsin defense over the Spartans offense.”
Riley Donald of Hawkeyes Wire: Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 10.
TJ of Picks and Parlays: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 20.
bill connelly from ESPN: His S&P+ projection has Wisconsin 29, Michigan State 23.
Five of the eight writers on The Only Colors believe Wisconsin will win.
All three Athlon Sports analysts are picking Wisconsin to win.
All four FootballScoop.com analysts are predicting a Wisconsin win.