Sure, there are big games on the schedule this week.
Michigan-Michigan State, Florida-Georgia and Ohio State-Penn State stack up for the best Saturday of the year on paper.
But none of them are the game of the week by my estimation. For that, we go to something that only the most degenerate amongst us will be willing to partake in.
Consider Iowa and Wisconsin, which comes in at a total of 37 at SI Sportsbook. If that seems low, dear reader, I’m here to remind you that it most certainly is.
You see, we’re in rare air here.
This game is among the lowest totals in the last decade. Only 16 totals have closed at 37 points or less since 2010 (nine of those have been 36.5 or less, which is where this total opened at some books), according to Covers.com.
Of the 16, only five have hit the over. Of the nine, only one hit the over. The lowest was Missouri-Vanderbilt in 2015, which closed at 34 and Vanderbilt won, 10-3.
The last sub 37 total in that span was actually last season, when Army-Navy was played in a fog and the final score of 15-0 finished well shy of the 36 number. Speaking of Army, Wisconsin’s game against those Black Knights earlier this season closed at 37.5 (the under cashed in that game as the Badgers won, 24-10).
Both of these teams have an M-O of running the ball. Only eight teams run the ball more per game on average and most of them are triple option-based squads. Wisconsin’s head coach, Paul Chryst, actually installs pretty complex passing concepts, they just opt not to use them en lieu of … this:
Both offenses rank in the 90s of available yards gained and both defenses rank in the top-5 of available yards allowed. They don’t move the ball, but you won’t either.
It is a stoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Despite the hilarity surrounding this game, I regret to inform you the game has legitimate stakes in the Big Ten West race as we all try to figure out who will be the blood sacrifice to the Big Ten East winner (probably Ohio State) in the conference championship game.
The stakes could have been even higher than this had Iowa, who had been in the top five, not lost to Purdue. There could be a three-way tie for the top of the West if Wisconsin wins this game and Iowa beats Minnesota in a couple weeks.
Something has to give in this game. Unless we get another Big Ten nine-overtime slugfest, I’m not sure what it’ll take to get this total to hit the over.
Unless the Hawkeyes produce some turnovers on defense, I’m not sure they’ll have enough if they do need to throw the ball.
It would be deeply fitting for this game to come down to a field goal, so I’ll take the hook here.
Let’s get weird.
While he’s topped that number quite a few times this season, but the Wisconsin defense is a much different proposition for that pursuit.
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