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Las Vegas Bowl Betting Preview: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State

Can the Badgers cover as a sizeable favorite in Sin City?

Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State v Oregon Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Wisconsin football has arrived in Sin City which means we are just days away from the Badgers taking the field for the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona State. Both the Badgers and Sun Devils come in after slightly disappointing 8-4 seasons. However, this bowl game will provide both programs a chance to get 2021 finished on a high note and roll that momentum into next year.

The Badgers opened up as 6.5 point favorites in this game and that spread has hung between there and 6 for most of the lead up to this contest. As for the total this number opened at 43.5 but has dropped down to 42 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. We’ll take a look at both of these numbers, but first, some trends.

  • Wisconsin is 6-6 ATS in 2021
  • Wisconsin is 4-1-1 ATS in bowl games under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 37-34-1 ATS as a favorite under Paul Chryst
  • Arizona State is 5-7 ATS in 2021
  • Arizona State is 1-2 ATS in bowl games under Herm Edwards
  • Arizona State is 16-9-1 ATS as an underdog under Herm Edwards

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-6.5)

Wisconsin v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Overall, bowl season is incredibly difficult to handicap in 2021 with transfers, opt-outs, and COVID all impacting teams. It’s hard to know which players will be in there, and which players will out. However, the team that has been hit the hardest of the two in this contest is Arizona State who is dealing with multiple opt-outs and injuries at key positions. The Sun Devils will be without their two top running backs, two starting corners, their starting center (injury), and their second-leading tackler Thursday night. With that, it’s hard to know just how invested the Sun Devils might be in this game.

Additionally, Arizona State comes in with an 8-4 record on the year, but it’s an incredibly deceiving record. The combined record of the opponents Arizona State beat is a whopping 27-68 on the year. Three of their wins came against 1-11 Arizona, 1-10 Southern Utah, and 2-10 UNLV. The four teams that Arizona State lost to are all bowl-eligible teams. Essentially, Arizona State beat up on the bad and got beat by the good. That leads to inflated numbers, and I think that is the case here.

On the other side, Wisconsin has done a good job of keeping players invested in the lead-up to this game and does not have any players opting out to prep for the NFL draft. The Badgers also have a very good track record in bowl games going 4-1-1 ATS under Paul Chryst. This Badger team seems invested in this contest and they’ve battled a tough schedule throughout the year and want to finish that on a high note. Sometimes that is all you can take from a contest like this, so I like the Badgers under a touchdown in this spot.

Over/Under? Under 42

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The total on this game is an interesting one. Firstly, you’ve got the Wisconsin defense who has been incredible against the run all season long and still ranks as the nation's top run defense. Arizona State’s strength offensively has been on the ground, as they come into this game with the nation's 25th ranked rushing offense. That pits strength against strength, but I think the Wisconsin defense has a big advantage when you consider Arizona State’s top two rushers are out of this game in Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum. With those players, and starting center Dohnovan West out due to injury I think you could see an Arizona State offense struggle to get in sync.

For Wisconsin, they’ve got all their key players in (as of now) and will look to move the ball on the ground as well. However, that will once again be strength on strength as the Sun Devils bring in the nation's 32nd ranked run defense, and 18th ranked overall defense. Are those numbers inflated due to their schedule? I believe so, but this is still a defense with NFL-quality talent on their roster. With that, I think this game could be a bit of a slugfest back and forth and stay under the total of 42.