Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:10 AM EST.
Wake Forest +9½ over Wisconsin
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
12:00 PM EST. Motivation is sometimes a key factor in determining where value lies in a bowl game. When we consider both team’s position in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl formerly Belk Bowl, the Badgers in particular are a hard sell, albeit this is likely not how they envisaged their postseason would play out.
It wasn’t too long ago that Wisconsin was flirting with a top-10 ranking and known unanimously as the biggest threat to Ohio State to retain its hold of the B1G. After smashing a dreg in Illinois in its season opener and following it up with a rout of Michigan in The Big House, Wisky seemed well on its way to a collision with the Buckeyes in Indianapolis, then the Badgers hit a Northwestern-size pothole and lost its first game of the season in Evanston despite being favored by a touchdown at kick-off. The Badgers would continue to skid out with losses against Indiana and Iowa before finally edging out Row The Boat a.k.a Minnesota in overtime to take Paul Bunyan’s Axe and stop the hemorrhaging. Though some may conjecture that the victory against Minnesota will ignite the Badgers to finish strong, we’re taking a different position, as the win has little meaning considering that Wisconsin has yet to beat a team of consequence this season, which leads us to wonder exactly why they are favored by this much here?
The Demon Deacons enter on a two-game skid, but it is their most recent loss that perhaps is conjuring a bit of a recency bias. The Deacs were molly-whopped on the road in Louisville by the hosting Cardinals, 45-21 despite laying a point. For what it's worth, the Cardinals have not exactly been a household name this season but we must inform you that Louisville has been on the end of several bad breaks which made them look worse than what they are. When we consider Wake’s 4-4 record, a similar assessment can be made.
The Demon Deacons lost two games this season by a combined nine points against North Carolina and North Carolina State, both of which transpired on the road, both of which were against teams that are presently ranked in the top 25, both of which the Deacons had an opportunity to win. To round off Wake’s collection of losses, the Deacs were defeated 37-13 by Clemson in September. However, losing to Clemson is considered an honor. Nevertheless, Wake Forest owns wins over Virginia and Virginia Tech by a combined 24 points. While UVA and VT are having atypical campaigns in their own right, these are certainly more impressive wins when comparing it to Wisky’s, who beat Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan: three dregs. When we compare résumés, Wake’s is better in every way. Now the Deacs get to play a quality opponent and earn a benchmark win while the Badgers fight may not be as intense after a hugely disappointing finish. Finally, Wake Coach Dave Clawson has an outstanding history of getting his teams ready for Bowl Games. Wake Forest's three bowl games under Dave Clawson saw all three games resulted in Wake Forest wins and there is no question that he’ll be using the 9½-points being offered as an insult to every player in that room. Big time overlay here.
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Wake Forest +9½ -102 (Risking 2.04 units - To Win: 2.00)