Michigan may find itself a bit shaken after its loss to Indiana last week, while Wisconsin will take the field Saturday for the first time since the first night of the 20202 Big Ten football season. When the Wolverines face the Badgers it will not be not what people expected this game to look like coming into the 2020 season.
Graham Mertz introduced himself to the country by tearing the Illinois defense apart and introducing a vertical aspect to the Wisconsin passing attack that hasn’t been seen often. Then, the next day, Mertz tested positive for COVID-19. He would not be the last member of the Badgers program to do so, and Wisconsin’s sat in the sidelines the last two weeks after having to cancel games against Nebraska and Purdue. Now they’re back and facing a Michigan team that probably wishes it could have sat out the last two weeks as well.
Michigan has dominated this series, which first played in 1892. The Wolverines have gone 51-16-1 against the Badgers, though Wisconsin’s had the edge recently. The Badgers crushed Michigan 35-14 last year and have won four of the last six meetings going back to 2009.
Michigan: Where to begin? Coming into the season, it was known that Michigan would be breaking in a new quarterback and other players on offense. Still, after an impressive 49-24 win on the road against a ranked Minnesota team that won 11 games last season, things looked to be headed in the right direction. Then the last two weeks happened. A loss at home against rival Michigan State — a team the Wolverines were favored to beat by three touchdowns — was followed with a 38-21 loss to an Indiana team Michigan hadn’t lost to since 1987. Now the Wolverines are sitting on two losses, with talk about Jim Harbaugh’s future kicking up, and there’s still this game against Wisconsin as well as dates with Penn State and Ohio State remaining on the schedule. A win against Wisconsin on Saturday could be the difference between a disappointing season and a disastrous one.
Wisconsin: Mertz is eligible to return as it’s been over 21 days since his positive test, which is the Big Ten’s requirement on how long a player must sit after testing positive. According to Paul Chryst, Mertz’s tests “are all done,” but he said that whether or not Mertz plays against Michigan will depend on how much practice time he gets and how he looks during practice. Of course, it’s important to remember that while Mertz is the big name, he’s far from the only person in the program who has tested positive in recent weeks. Not only has Wisconsin not been able to play the last two weeks, but its practices have been disrupted, and there’s no way of knowing who is and isn’t available for Saturday.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 14 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Michigan Stadium — Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Wisconsin prediction, picks
My official advice is to stay away from this game entirely when it comes to betting on it. There’s simply too much we don’t know ahead of the game to make a confident call. But, if you must, I’d lean toward the Badgers before the Wolverines. I expect that Mertz will play, and Michigan’s defense has been torn apart by QBs with less talent than Mertz already. The Wolverines pass-rush was already non-existent and lost its best pass-rusher in Aidan Hutchinson for the season. Due to having to cover so long, Michigan’s secondary has been torn to pieces and is continually getting called for pass interference and holding. With Mertz playing, I’d expect the Badgers to be able to take advantage of that early and often. Pick: Wisconsin -4.5
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 11? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,900 in profit over the past four-plus seasons — and find out.
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