Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin Betting Odds & Pick: Back Badgers Big in Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Graham Mertz.
- Wisconsin is more than a touchdown favorite over Wake Forest in the Duke's Mayo Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte.
- The Badgers boast one of the nation's best defenses, and Brad Cunningham thinks the Demon Deacons will have a tough time moving the ball.
- Get his full breakdown and Wisconsin vs. Wake Forest pick below.
Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin Odds
Two teams that had their regular-season schedules ravaged by COVID-19 meet for the inaugural Duke’s Mayo Bowl as Wisconsin battles Wake Forest on Wednesday.
After beating Illinois and Michigan, Wisconsin looked destined for the Big Ten title game. However, after losing three straight to ranked opponents, the Badgers’ season was shot. They did salvage some pride in the final week of the season by beating Minnesota in overtime. However, losing three of its last four games is a massive disappointment for Wisconsin.
Wake Forest finished 4-4, but seven of its eight games were played before Nov. 15. The Demon Deacons played on Dec. 12, losing at Louisville, but having only played one game in the last month and a half is certainly not what they had in mind when preparing to play this game.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
For what Wake Forest’s offense lacks in consistency, it makes up for with explosiveness. The Demon Deacons are 77th in the country in offensive success rate but 13th in offensive explosiveness, per College Football Data.
Sophomore Sam Hartman has been sensational this season, throwing the ball for 8.1 yards per attempt with only one interception. He’s developed a nice connection with Jaquarii Roberson, who led the team with 54 catches and averaged 14.7 yards per reception. However, this will be the best pass defense Hartman has faced all season.
Wake Forest lost its top two running backs from last season, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. The tandem of Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker III has filled in nicely, running the ball for 5.12 yards per carry.
The bad news: Walker III has opted out of the bowl game. The even worse news is that Wisconsin has, quite literally, the best run defense in the country. So, I think Wake Forest is going to struggle to move the ball.
The Demon Deacons had all sorts of defensive issues this year.
Wake Forest ranked 93rd in Defensive Passing and Rushing Success this season. Wake’s defense could be summed up in its performances from the final two games of the regular season when it allowed a total of 104 points and 7.81 yards per play to North Carolina and Louisville. To make matters worse, the Demon Deacons’ NFL-caliber defensive end, Carlos Basham Jr., has opted out of the bowl game.
The Demon Deacons have not been able to stop anybody on the ground, allowing 5.0 yards per rush. That’s going to be a problem since Wisconsin’s strength on offense lies in its run game.
Wake Forest also has little experience in its secondary with two starting cornerbacks not seeing much playing time before this year. The Demon Deacons allowed 7.8 yards per attempt in the regular season, so even though Wisconsin has struggled in the passing game, the Badgers may find some success on Wednesday.
After his performance in the Badgers’ season opener against Illinois, Graham Metrz looked like the best quarterback in the country. That did not continue to be the case.
Since that Illinois game, Mertz has averaged 5.54 yards per attempt and has thrown three touchdowns to five interceptions. That has led Wisconsin to the 91st-best offense in terms of Passing Success.
However, a lot of his issues came against some of the best secondaries in college football, such as Northwestern, Iowa and Indiana. Maybe Mertz will find some success against a below-average secondary.
As it is every year, the rushing attack is the strength of the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers rank 23rd in Rushing Success, per College Football Data, and they average 4.1 yards per attempt.
However, Wisconsin hasn’t broken off many big runs and rank 120th in rushing explosiveness. With how poor Wake Forest’s run defense has been and given the fact that its best defensive lineman has opted out, the Badgers could make some noise on the ground.
While Wisconsin’s offense has taken a step back over the second half of the season, the defense has remained one of the best in the Big Ten. The Badgers have been one of the best teams in the country against the run, allowing only 3.4 yards per attempt. They rank first overall in Defensive Rushing Success and 15th in rushing explosiveness allowed, per College Football Data.
That’s going to come in handy against a Wake Forest rushing attack that will be without one of its main two running backs.
Wisconsin’s secondary is not far off the quality of its front seven either, as that unit ranks eighth in Defensive Passing Success. The Badgers have allowed only 6.1 yards per pass attempt, and if they can limit the explosive plays, Wake Forest’s passing game is going to struggle to find consistency.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think Wisconsin’s defense should dominate this game. This will be the toughest test of the season for Wake Forest’s big-play offense, and I don’t think it’ll be able to move the ball consistently.
I have the Badgers projected as -12.13 favorites in this game, so I think there’s some value on Wisconsin at -7.5.
Pick: Wisconsin -7.5 (up to -9).