We’re only gifted with two ranked matchups on Saturday, but there’s still money to be made across the board. Let’s break down my Week 4 college football best bets, including No. 12 Notre Dame battling No. 18 Wisconsin in Chicago.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame Team Stats
The betting market tells you all everything you need to know about this game.
Notre Dame is undefeated, but they squeaked by Florida State and Toledo in their first two matchups while failing to cover either of them.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin is 1-1 against the spread, losing its home opener to Penn State as a 5.5-point favorite. But Paul Chryst’s team is still favored by just under a touchdown in this matchup.
Over at PointsBet, Notre Dame is garnering 72 percent of the bets yet only 54 percent of the handle, indicating that bigger-money tickets on Wisconsin. Sunday’s soft opener was Badgers -3.5, but that’s shot up to and even as high as -6.5 on PointsBet (as of Thursday).
One prominent Las Vegas operator is seeing similar action.
“All dog money. People think it’s too high I guess. We opened -5.5 and thought that number was right,” John Murray, director of race and sports at the Westgate SuperBook, said. “It’s been moving up despite all the public support for Norte Dame.”
That’s not to say you should blindly follow the sharp action. Nevertheless, bettors have a reason to be optimistic about Wisconsin’s chances of cashing in. It boils down to the line of scrimmage.
Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame: Advanced Metrics
The Irish rank No. 121 across college football in expected points (EPA) added per rush attempt. They’re also checking in at No. 78 on the other side of the ball.
EPA is defined as expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position at the start of a play in comparison to the byproduct.
Although their record hasn’t been affected to date, there’s no surprise Brian Kelly brought back just 49 percent of his roster from last season. That includes replacing four starters on the offensive line.
I’m expecting the Badgers to take full advantage, generating the second-lowest opponents’ EPA/rush attempt while their offense slots in at No. 44 in that department. Chryst will continue to employ Wisconsin’s methodical pace, which correlates to the under if his team controls the tempo.
Even with the Jack Coan, former Badgers-turned-Notre Dame quarterback, revenge game narrative on the table, this one is all about Wiscy tailback Chez Mellusi and his defense. Here’s the first of my Week 4 college football best bets.
Eli’s Bet: Wisconsin -5.5 (FanDuel — placed on at 10pm ET Thursday, Sept. 23; up to -6.5)
Current Best Available Line: Wisconsin
Indiana Hoosiers @ Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
- Indiana at WKU Team Stats
Now on to the second team we’re looking to fade in this piece: Tom Allen’s Hoosiers.
After finishing with the eighth-highest turnover margin last season, Indiana’s turnover luck has run out, ranking No. 118 in that category. The Hoosiers are off to a 1-2 ATS record as a result, falling to No. 5 Iowa and No. 8 Cincinnati.
Similar to Notre Dame, Indiana struggles to stop the run (No. 90 in opponents’ EPA per rush attempt). Tyson Helton’s offense should be in position to advantage, boasting the third-highest EPA per rush attempt in the nation.
Despite Indiana’s passing defense proving to be much more respectable, Hilltoppers signal caller Bailey Zappe leads an explosive attack that can take advantage of the Hoosiers’ smaller defensive backs.
From a power rankings standpoint (SP+), Western Kentucky sits 41 spots behind Indiana, which is baked into the line.
PointsBet notes that 52 percent of the bets are on the Hoosiers, but 69 percent of the handle is on the Hilltoppers. The spread opened at Indiana -10 before getting bet down a tad to . Give me the home underdog in this one.
Eli’s Bet: Western Kentucky +9.5 (FanDuel — placed on at 10pm ET Thursday, Sept. 23; would still bet at +9)
Current Best Available Line: WKU