The Wisconsin Badgers (3-3) are playing the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-4) in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl tomorrow, December 30.
Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM (Central Time) and will be televised on ESPN. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This is the first ever meeting between the two programs. UW opened as 7 1/2 point favorites and as I write this, UW is favored by 10 points per Bovada Sportsbook.
UW’s Injury Report:
Kendric Pryor (WR)
Danny Davis (WR)
Cole Van Lanen (OL)
Nakia Watson (RB)
Jalen Berger (RB) (COVID-19)
Isaiahh Loudermilk (DL)
Wisconsin needs to win this game, that’s the bottom line.
Since Barry Alvarez became the head coach at UW in 1990 (now the current Athletic Director), losing games and losing seasons hasn’t been acceptable.
The last time UW had a losing season was in 2001 when they finished 5-7 and failed to make a bowl game. Since 1990, UW has had only five losing seasons.
Paul Chryst is 4-1 in Bowl Games as the head man in Madison, and you can bet he’s going for 5-1.
Some fans probably want UW to play the freshman and sophomores to gain experience in what they feel like is a meaningless game. That’s not how UW will approach it and that’s not what this program is built on, plus they don’t want to finish with a losing record on the year against a middle of the pack ACC team.
Not only is it important to send the departing players out with a win, it also gives the program momentum, confidence and a good feeling heading into an uncertain offseason after a tumultuous 2020 season. Not to mention, the best recruiting class in program history coming in (2021 recruiting class).
After missing the last two games due to covid-19, Jalen Berger, the teams best running back is expected to return for the bowl game against Wake Forest. Wake Forest’s defense ranks 91st in the country against the run.
Graham Mertz is expected to start his seventh career game tomorrow despite being knocked out of the game in the third quarter against Minnesota.
Mertz needs to show he can maintain good play. We saw a lot of potential in the first two games against Illinois and Michigan, we saw a flash against Minnesota. But then we saw poor play against Northwestern, Indiana and Iowa all of whole have good defenses.
Mertz will likely be without the top two receivers in Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor. That means more opportunities for Jack Dunn and true freshman in Chimere Dike and Devin Chandler. Helping Mertz’s matters, Wake Forest ranks 107th in the country against the pass.
While Wake Forest’s defense is not good, ranking 107th in total defense and 78th in scoring defense. The Demon Deacon offense is going to present UW’s defense with some challenges.
The Wake Forest offense is averaging 435 yards of total offense and 37 points per game, both are some of the best totals of offense that UW will face this season. The Wake offense average 80.3 plays per game.
While a number of seniors and at least one junior have yet to make a final decision on whether to return for the 2021 season (since this year is a free year in terms of eligibility), it seems likely that quite a few guys will be making their final appearances in a UW uniform tomorrow.
This includes Isaiahh Loudermilk and Cole Van Lanen (assuming they’re healthy enough to play). Safety Eric Burrell is likely heading to the NFL Draft and same likely goes for fullback Mason Stokke. Jon Dietzen is expected to retire for good after the game.
Others that potentially could be playing their final games: Cornerback Caesar Williams, running back Garrett Groshek, outside linebacker Noah Burks, defensive end Garrett Rand, safety Madison Cone and junior tight end Jake Ferguson.
This is the 19th consecutive season that Wisconsin is playing in a Bowl Game. Only Georgia (24) and Oklahoma (22) have longer current streaks. UW is 9-9 in Bowl Games during the streak.
Wisconsin leads the nation in total defense, allowing an average of 263.5 yards per game. That’s the third-best mark in program history since 1959.
According to the University of Wisconsin, the top four players at wide receiver and running back coming into the season have each missed at least one game this year and a total of 20 games missed between the four.
Wisconsin 31, Wake Forest 21.