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  4. It’s on! The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe!!
It’s on! The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe!!

It’s on! The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe!!

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Dave Carney 12/17/2020

Overall record: 108-83

How did I get here?: Record holds from yesterday because my Daily Play was tonight’s Thursday Night Football game (Raiders vs Chargers) UNDER 53.

Since the writing of yesterday’s column however, the Raiders have placed FOUR defensive starters on the injury report and will not play tonight. That could complicate the methodology in yesterday’s piece, but, that’s what gambling is. A gamble..

**For more info on TOTAL plays, OVER/UNDER, and PLUS/MINUS plays check back through some previous columns for detailed information*

What’s on the table today?: Today we take a stab at the longest running FBS rivalry in college football, the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe; Minnesota @ Wisconsin!

The Badgers and Gophers series dates back to 1890, but the streak of uninterrupted games since 1907 gets to continue “thanks” to the Big Ten doing an about-face on it’s stance of flexing games, adding weeks, or what number of games is needed to play to qualify for the Big Ten Championship.

This was great news for fans, and great news for the Big ten Network, however the Badgers and gophers have both been heavily affected by COVID, and in my estimation when the Badgers found out they wouldn’t be eligible, at least at the time, to play in the Big Ten Championship due to them not reaching the number of games criteria, I felt the wind completely left their sails. 

It seemed to me that whatever motivation on Wisconsin’s part to BE a championship team this year, and this is purely speculation, dissipated greatly when it was official, they had no chance to play in a Big Ten Championship game at all. Kind of like just playing for a participation trophy, and who really wants that?!

The reason that’s particularity important to me is because that’s one of the reasons I am taking the UNDER total 47 ½ play. That is a ridiculously low total for a college football game, but there’s good reason to think this will be a VERY low scoring game. 

Starting with the Badgers, a team who over their last three games have scored just 20 total points…combined. Twenty! That kind of offensive ineptitude just screams UNDER, especially when you factor in how good the Badgers defense has been. Say what you will about their lack of scoring, but Jim Leonard has this Wisconsin D holding opponents to just 15.4 points per game, good for 6th in the nation. 

For the Minnesota Gophers, they’ve actually put up some solid offensive numbers, scoring over 30 in three of their last five games. The bad news? Those all came against BAD Big Ten teams whereas the Badgers D has held 3 consecutive TOP 25 opponents under 29, with both Northwestern and Indiana being held under 20. That doesn’t bode well for a Gophers team that relies heavily on their run game to score because Wisconsin is great on run D too, allowing just 83.2 yards per game (3rd in the country).  

Also consider this, when the game opened the TOTAL number was a still small 48.5. That number has now moved down a full point, meaning some very big money is coming in on the UNDER play. 

I know that in traditional rivalries such as this we’re told to “throw everything out” ’cause you just never know. In this case I see two teams who will chew up TONS of time running the football, and really limiting opportunities to score, making this play, UNDER 47 ½ feel real solid. 

REMEMBER – don’t bet based upon my recommendations. Do your research. Stay in your lane. Don’t take college basketball!

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