The Wisconsin Badgers are slight favorites Saturday against Minnesota.
The 6-5 Badgers will take the field in Madison against the 7-4 Gophers, and despite the fact Wisconsin struggled mightily against a bad Nebraska team, Graham Mertz and company are -3.5 favorites as of Tuesday morning on DraftKings.
Is this a trap for Wisconsin fans?
As I said ahead of the Nebraska game when I correctly said Wisconsin wouldn’t cover, this one seems a bit tricky.
Minnesota isn’t a bad team, and the outcome almost certainly comes down to QB Tanner Morgan’s availability.
Morgan is one of the more tested and experienced quarterbacks in all of college football, and the Gophers are simply different with him under center. He last played in early November against Nebraska before being sidelined with an upper body injury. Since then, Athan Kaliakmanis has been under center and the team is 1-1.
If Morgan is healthy and able to go, which remains unknown at this time, Minnesota could absolutely beat Wisconsin.
If it’s Kaliakmanis under center, then -3.5 makes a lot of sense for Wisconsin. The spread seems to indicate oddsmakers don’t expect Morgan back. That’s great news for Wisconsin fans, but given how awful the Badgers looked in the team’s win over Nebraska, I’m not sure anyone should be jumping on spreads in our favor.
There might be an X-factor for the Badgers.
It’s expected that Jim Leonhard will officially be named the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers at some point Saturday. It could happen before or after the game. The decision definitely won’t come later than Sunday.
Wisconsin could play some incredibly inspired football to earn a win in Jim Leonhard’s first game without the interim tag.
It’s a small thing, but given the fact it’s a rivalry game, don’t be shocked if that’s a little extra shot of juice to get the Badgers going.
Right now, this is a sit and wait situation. If Tanner Morgan plays, I would probably avoid the game altogether. If he doesn’t, -3.5 is something I can take and feel good about. Until we have a little more information, it’s just too early to say.