Game: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Badgers -6, Sun Devils +6
Two of the better rushing offenses meet in this year’s Las Vegas Bowl. Wisconsin, which finished the season 8-4, takes on the Pac-12’s Arizona State, which also finished 8-4. Both teams had success this season by running the football and relying on their respective defenses. It took Wisconsin a while to get started in 2021 as the Badgers opened the season 1-3 with losses to three ranked opponents – Penn State, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
The Badgers would then right the ship relying heavily on one of the best defenses in the country. Wisconsin is No. 1 in the nation against the run and allowed just 240.8 yards of offense and 16.4 points per game this season. Those numbers are top 5. Wisconsin will likely load up the box against an Arizona State squad that also likes to run the football. The problem for the Sun Devils is that they will be without their leading rusher Rachaad White. White decided to opt-out of the bowl game in order to prepare for the 2022 NFL draft.
The Sun Devils averaged 402.1 yards of total offense per game in 2021, 204.5 of that total came on the ground. Without White, ASU will need to rely on backups to run the football. They will also lean on a defense that was second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense. The Sun Devils allowed 20.9 points per game this season.
That ASU defense will go up against one of the best offensive lines and running attacks in college football. Wisconsin averaged nearly 215 yards rushing per game. They were led by RB Braelon Allen who ran for 1,109 yards and 12 touchdowns. His backup, Chez Mellusi, added 815 yards and another five touchdowns. The Badgers running game will open things up for QB Graham Mertz in the passing game. Mertz doesn’t throw often, but he is capable. He has thrown for 1,821 yards this season.
Tonight’s Las Vegas Bowl will likely come down to defense and which team has more success running the football. The styles of both teams greatly affected the game total which is set at 41. It makes sense though as all 12 Badgers games this season averaged a total of 42.3 points. Seven of those games closed with a total of 42 or less and four of them stayed Under the total. It’s no shock then that the Under is 5-1 in Wisconsin’s last six games played in the month of December.
Arizona State’s 12 games averaged 50.6 points, a bit higher than Wisconsin. The Under was 6-5-1 in Sun Devils games this season. Arizona State has not done well against the number in recent bowl games. The Sun Devils are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 bowl games. Wisconsin hasn’t done well in its last six games against teams from the Pac-12. The Badgers are just 1-5 straight up in those games.