The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers will try to extend their success in home openers when they kick off the 2021 season on Saturday against the No. 19 Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisc. The Badgers have won 25 consecutive home openers at Camp Randall Stadium, a run that dates to 1996 and matches Oklahoma State for the second-longest streak among FBS teams. Only Florida (31) owns a longer active win streak in home openers.
Wisconsin also has won six straight season openers. On Saturday the Badgers face a Nittany Lions team that lost its season opener last year at Indiana. Kickoff is set for noon ET. The Badgers are 5.5-point favorites in the latest Wisconsin vs. Penn State odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is down to 49.5 after opening two points higher. Before making any Penn State vs. Wisconsin picks, check out the college football predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS game 10,000 times. Over the past five-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of more than $3,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It also enters Week 1 of the 2021 season on a 57-37 run on all top-rated college football picks. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Wisconsin vs. Penn State spread: Badgers -5.5
- Wisconsin vs. Penn State over-under: 49.5 points
- Wisconsin vs. Penn State money line: Badgers -230, Nittany Lions +190
- WISC: The Badgers ranked fifth in the FBS last year in yards per game allowed (299.9)
- PSU: The Nittany Lions led the country in yards per punt return last year (24.6)
Why Wisconsin can cover
Wisconsin has a playmaker at linebacker in Jack Sanborn. A 6-foot-2, 236-pound senior from Deer Park, Ill., Sanborn has started all 21 games over the last two years and racked up 132 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions during that stretch. He has led the team in tackles in each of the previous two seasons and enters the season on watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award.
In addition, the offense has one of the best tight ends in the country in senior Jake Ferguson. A 6-foot-5, 244-pound senior from Madison, Ferguson enters 2021 ranked No. 2 among active FBS tight ends in career catches (99). Last season he led Wisconsin in every pass-catching category last season -- catching 30 balls for 305 yards and four touchdowns -- and was named a semifinalist for the Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's best tight end.
Why Penn State can cover
Penn State coach James Franklin made significant changes to improve the offense in the offseason. After the Nittany Lions finished 54th in the country last year in points per game (29.8), Franklin dismissed offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and replaced him with Mike Yurcich, who spent last season as the offensive coordinator at Texas. In his 15 years as a coordinator, Yurcich's offenses have averaged 6.49 yards per play, ranking first among offensive coordinators since 2013.
He takes over a unit that returns nine starters from last season, eight of the team's nine top pass catchers and four of the team's five top rushers. Yurcich also will have an experienced quarterback in senior Sean Clifford, who enters the 2021 campaign seventh all-time in program history in career total yards (5,466) and eighth in touchdowns responsible for (49).
How to make Wisconsin vs. Penn State picks
SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 46 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Penn State vs. Wisconsin? And which side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the model that has crushed its college football picks, and find out.