If you like offense, it may be hard to come by in this year’s Las Vegas Bowl, but if you’re a fan of hard-nosed, “gritty" football, this is the game for you.
The Wisconsin Badgers have been a top-five defense in the FBS this season, but have been greatly hampered by the play of quarterback Graham Mertz.
On the other side, Arizona State ranks 59th in defense per PFF’s grading system.
Could this be a game in which Mertz is at least competent?
Let’s dive into who will take home the Las Vegas Bowl.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. All odds and lines are current as of 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 30.
Arizona State vs Wisconsin Prediction
With a total of 43 points, this game is not slated to be high scoring whatsoever. When you factor in how inept Mertz is, the strength of the Wisconsin defense, and Arizona State running the ball on 61 percent of their offensive plays, this game is going to be more slugfest than shootout.
Despite how much of a liability Mertz is, this Wisconsin defense should be able to win this one for the Badgers.
Arizona State running back Rachaad White has 15 rushing touchdowns on the year and just over 1,000 yards, but Wisconsin has players like Leo Chenal, Matt Henningsen, Jack Sanborn, and more in a loaded front seven that should be able to keep him in check.
Las Vegas Bowl Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Arizona State 10
Sportsbook Play of the Day
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Las Vegas Bowl Best Bets
Best Bet: Arizona State +7 (-110) at Caesars
While I’ve predicted this game to be a push, I’m more confident in the Sun Devils covering than the Badgers. The only way the Badgers cover with ease is if the defense creates turnovers and either returns them for touchdowns or puts the offense in positions where Mertz cannot fail.
The Sun Devils’ affinity for running the football should also help keep this game close, regardless of how stout the Badgers defense is.
Best Bet: Wisconsin Moneyline (-290) at Caesars
Given the possibility that Wisconsin could score around 20 points or less on offense, it would make sense to just avoid a -280 line altogether.
However, again, the Badgers defense is too good and matches up well with the Sun Devils. I think they prevail here.
Best Bet: Under 42 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
I’m just not sure this game is going to have enough firepower to get over the mark. The Badgers run less than 70 plays per game and have a defense that should be able to shut the Sun Devils down. That would leave us relying on the Badgers to make up the difference which, with Mertz at the helm, they just will not be able to do.
The Sun Devils do have some players on defense that could create issues for Wisconsin like cornerback Jack Jones, and EDGE Tyler Johnson has been decent in run defense and managed 21 total pressures on opposing quarterbacks. Back the Under as your NCAAF pick of the day.
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