Reliaquest Bowl: Wisconsin vs. LSU Expert Pick and Prediction – January 1, 2024
RELIAQUEST BOWL: WISCONSIN VS. LSU EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 1, 2024 — How will LSU handle life without Jayden Daniels? The Tigers built so much of their offense around the Heisman winner, and now they’ve got to play without him with Daniels opting out of the bowl game. That means Garrett Nussmeier becomes the quarterback, and his first start is against a middling Wisconsin squad.
The Badgers really weren’t that strong in Luke Fickell’s first season, going just 7-5 despite playing in the weak Big Ten West and avoiding both Michigan and Penn State. Wisconsin also found a way to lose to Indiana, and its best win all season came against Rutgers, the only Power 5 bowl team they beat all season.
Related: Sugar Bowl Pick and Prediction
Wisconsin’s got a long way to go to be competitive in the new Big Ten, and the fact that they’re big underdogs to LSU’s backup quarterback underscores the situation. You’d think this would give the Badgers a chance for the upset, but it looks like a pretty bleak situation for them even without LSU at full strength
(10-3 SU, 4-6-2 ATS)
(9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS)
When: Monday, January 1 at Noon EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Public Bets: 69% on LSU
Public Money: 57% on LSU
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of December 30th, 2023.
Wisconsin vs. LSU In-Season Trends
Here’s a secret with Wisconsin: If you play the over, it means you think the Badgers can win the game outright. The over has cashed four times in Wisconsin games in 2023, and the Badgers have won all of them. The offense is one of the weakest this side of Iowa, and it’s pretty common for Wisconsin games to land in the 30s or less. Out of nine Big Ten games, five of them landed in the 30s, with two others just inching past to hit 42 and 41.
Related: Rose Bowl Pick and Prediction
The Badgers can play defense, as they didn’t give up more than 24 points in a league game. Of course, LSU’s at the other end of the spectrum, never scoring less than the 24 points it got against Florida State in week 1. Since then, they’ve only failed to reach 30 one other time — Alabama.
Even if the game isn’t great, the weather will be. Temperatures will hit 71 degrees in Tampa, so it’s going to be a pretty enjoyable way to start January.
Having Malik Nabers makes a huge difference for any offense. The Tigers got a huge boost when Nabers agreed to play in the bowl game, as that’s 86 catches and 14 scores they don’t have to replace until August. With Nabers on the field, Nussmeier will likely have a much quicker adjustment period to being under center.
Related: Fiesta Bowl Pick and Prediction
Wisconsin doesn’t have its top runner in Braelon Allen, and that means more pressure on Tanner Mordecai to do something. Mordecai really struggled to get adjusted this season, throwing under 200 yards five times in six games against Big Ten competition.
Wisconsin is basically Iowa with better PR. The Badgers were even worse in some ways, as they managed to lose to some of the worst teams in the Big Ten because of their offense. Say what you will about Iowa, but the Hawkeyes managed to squeeze out 10 wins without moving the football.
Related: Citrus Bowl Pick and Prediction
Wisconsin couldn’t do that, and LSU is too explosive to expect the Badgers to change that now. The team total is the better play here, because LSU might hit its number on its own. Wisconsin shouldn’t be expected to do much in this one.
Wisconsin TTU 24.5