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Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin odds, preview, and pick

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December 27th, 2020

Wake Forest and Wisconsin will meet for the first time in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

Wisconsin, which concluded the regular season with a 3-3 record, will make its 19th consecutive bowl trip, the third-longest streak in the FBS behind Georgia and Oklahoma. Head coach Paul Chryst has been at the helm for six seasons, and the Badgers haven’t had a losing record since 2001.

Wake Forest finished with a 4-4 record, and the Demon Deacons will be making their fifth straight bowl appearance under Dave Clawson, who was hired before the 2014 season.

Wed, December 30 2020, 5:00 PM

Wisconsin Badgers

Moneyline

-265

Spread

-7.5

Total

O 53

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Moneyline

+205

Spread

+7.5

Total

U 53

Wisconsin analysis

The last time the Badgers played an ACC team in a bowl game, they defeated Miami 35-3 in the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl. Historically a good bowl team, the Badgers won seven of eight bowl games during one stretch in the 1990s, including all three trips to the Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin is 4-1-1 against the spread in its last six bowl appearances.

It’s been an uneven campaign in 2020. After blowing out Illinois in its opener, Wisconsin had a couple of games postponed due to COVID-19 issues. The Badgers gained 468 yards when routing Michigan 49-11 in their second appearance, but the offense fell apart over the next three games.

Their top receivers, Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor, were sidelined by injury, and the Badgers suddenly became one-dimensional. Wisconsin remained stingy defensively against Northwestern and Indiana, allowing only 31 combined points, but they were too limited offensively in a pair of setbacks.

The offensive woes continued in a 28-7 loss to Iowa, with top running back Jalen Berger being a late scratch, but Wisconsin got their offensive momentum back in the regular season finale against Minnesota. They recorded 175 rushing yards, with Garrett Groshek leading the way with 154 yards, and won by a 20-17 margin in overtime.

After being hurt against Minnesota, quarterback Graham Metz is expected to return. Chase Wolf proved to be a capable replacement, completing four of five passes against Minnesota, and the Badgers should get a boost by getting Davis and Pryor back on the field.

Berger is expected to clear protocols before kickoff, and Wisconsin will give Wake Forest a heavy dose of their ground game.

Wisconsin and Wake Forest odds and statistics

Team NamePassing YardsRushing YardsPassing Yards AllowedRushing Yards Allowed
Wisconsin Badgers
187.2, 105th
171.7, 58th
169.8, 8th
93.7, 6th
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
264.4, 33rd
151.1, 77th
269.3, 113th
201.1, 97th

The Badgers are outstanding defensively, first nationally allowing 263.5 yards per game. They rank among the top 10 teams against the run (93.7 yards per game) and pass (169.8 passing yards per game).

Wake Forest analysis

Wake Forest can bring it offensively, averaging nearly 33 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman has been dynamic at times, throwing for 1,906 yards, 10 touchdowns and only one interception. The Demon Deacons posted a respectable 6-2 ATS record.

The offense was rolling early in the season. After losing the opener to Clemson, Wake Forest scored at least 38 points in five of their next six contests. They were impressive against North Carolina in Week 11, losing a 59-53 shootout, but the Tar Heels may have been looking ahead to their next game against Notre Dame.

The Demon Deacons enter on a two-game losing streak. COVID-19 issues forced a three-week layoff after North Carolina, and Wake Forest delivered a disappointing performance most recently, gaining only 351 total yards in a 45-21 loss to Louisville in Week 16.

Wake Forest allowed nearly 32 points and 457 yards per game to opponents in 2020. Their 97th-ranked run defense does not match up well with Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's formidable defense will be too much to overcome

Unranked Wisconsin has the opportunity to reclaim some lost luster after being in the top 10 earlier in the season. The Badgers take a lot of pride in the consecutive bowl streak, the longest in the Big 10, and will be motivated to avoid the program’s first losing season since 2001.

I’m not so certain about Wake Forest’s mindset – the Demon Deacons will be playing only their second game since the middle of November.

“There was a point there where our team was at a breaking point,” Clawson said before their last scheduled game with Florida State was canceled. “When those two or three games (in November) were canceled in a row, I think some of our players thought they weren’t going to play again.”

Will Wisconsin cover the spread against Wake Forest in Duke's Mayo Bowl?

Wisconsin has an advantage on the offensive and defensive lines. They are capable of controlling time of possession with long scoring drives, and Wake Forest will likely not generate enough offense against their formidable defense.

The Badgers should win and cover in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

NCAAF pick: Wisconsin -7.5


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