Penn State vs. Wisconsin Week 1 Betting Odds, Picks, and Trends


The Big Ten is filled with interesting teams that boast a bold style and need for a breakout season. Ohio State is the prohibitive favorite once again, but there are a handful of competitors able to kneecap the powerhouse if the Buckeyes show weakness. Two of the teams face off in Week 1 as Penn State faces Wisconsin.

James Franklin’s Nittany Lions had a massively disappointing 2020 season, dropping four straight games and ending the year beating four bad teams. The offense lacked big plays and a great defensive effort was wasted. This year must bring more balance.

Wisconsin continued their streak of solid play, but more is expected this season. Their offense has the tools to be quite well-rounded thanks to improved quarterback play. I’m buying them to win the Big Ten West.

We have you covered from every angle of this matchup. Let’s dig in.

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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Wisconsin Badgers Week 1 odds

Here is a look at the Week 1 betting odds between Penn State and Wisconsin, odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

  • Wisconsin -5.5 (-110)
  • Over/Under 50 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Wisconsin -220, Penn State +180

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Wisconsin Badgers game preview

Here’s a look at the preview between two Big Ten title hopefuls in Penn State and Wisconsin for Week 1.

Wisconsin offense vs. Penn State defense

Although the Wisconsin Badgers were unable to produce an impressive unit in 2020, I’m banking on the seniority of the unit and the return of sophomore passer Graham Mertz. The Badgers will continue to be a run-first attack that enforces their will on their opponent. Though they averaged a measly 3.9 yards per carry last year, there’s absolutely reason to believe this group can take the next step in 2021.

Mertz’ health and continued development brings an element of massive upside to the passing game. Surrounded by senior receivers Kendrick Pryor, Danny Davis, Jack Dunn and Jake Ferguson, Mertz will benefit from their poise and overall polish. We should see fewer mental mistakes as this unit has now gotten two years together to mesh.

The run game must improve as well. Returning leading rusher Jalen Berger will compete with transfer addition Chez Mellusi. Both can elevate themselves to a larger role, but this is a big game for each to prove themselves. Can either prove to be explosive against better competition?

Penn State has an athletic defense capable of playing man coverage and filling the box with defenders. Mertz must make them pay with big plays to loosen the front seven. Wisconsin must establish their ability to be a more effective passing attack in this game in order to win. 

Penn State offense vs. Wisconsin defense

The Nittany Lions were far from a potent unit last year. Even though their three best playmakers were statistically good, they dominated a lot of bad competition. The good news is both leading rusher Keyvone Lee and receiver Jahan Dotson are back with more depth around them.

Of course, quarterback Sean Clifford has to become more efficient as well. He completed under 61% of his passes last year and ran for only 3.4 yards per carry. Both of those marks must leap for this unit to perform against more physically gifted defenses like Wisconsin.

Getting Dotson into space and seeing if Noah Cain, a former elite prospect, has any juice left in his legs, will be X-factors for Penn State. The Badgers aren’t extremely fast on the perimeter of their defense and Dotson roasted everyone he played last year. Slowing Dotson is the key to winning this battle for Wisconsin.

Expect Wisconsin to bring as much pressure as they can afford while still protecting their secondary. This unit produced three multi-sack defenders in seven games last year, and eight total interceptions. They must force Penn State and Clifford in particular into mistakes. 

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Betting trends for Penn State vs. Wisconsin

The Nittany Lions have covered four of their last five spreads overall, and six of their last seven against Wisconsin. They’ve failed to go over in nine of their last 10 road games. 

Wisconsin has failed to hit the over in four of their last five games and has also come up short of covering the spread the same number of times. They’ve won nine of their last 10 at home, though, and have gone over in five of six games against Penn State. 

CFB betting picks – Penn State vs. Wisconsin

I like Wisconsin to win but Penn State to keep it close. Neither defense will be completely settled early on, and the playmaking talent will lead to a 28-24 type of contest. 

Best bets: Penn State +5.5 (-110) and Over 50 (-110) 

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