Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard
Sports Betting coverage provided by Action Network

Guaranteed Rate Bowl prediction: Bet the Under in Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State

With both starting quarterbacks in the transfer portal, the Badgers and Cowboys will struggle to score points

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, a two-year starter, won't play for the Badgers in Tuesday's bowl game against Oklahoma State after opting to transfer. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, a two-year starter, won't play for the Badgers in Tuesday's bowl game against Oklahoma State after opting to transfer. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)Read moreJohn Fisher / Getty Images

Wisconsin enters the Guaranteed Rate Bowl without its starting quarterback, six players who opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft and possibly its leading rusher. Yet the Badgers are solidly favored to win Tuesday’s game in Phoenix.

The main reason: Oklahoma State, which lost four of its final five regular season games, also won’t have its starting quarterback (who happens to be the team’s second-leading rusher). Additionally, the Cowboys will be without their top running back and three key starters on a defense that was already shaky.

With both teams dealing with so much attrition, handicapping the finale of Tuesday’s bowl game quadruple-header is like trying to guess which side will win an intrasquad spring game.

So our Guaranteed Rate Bowl prediction focuses on the total, as we expect both offenses to have trouble finding the end zone.

Odds updated as of 11:30 a.m. ET.

  1. Get your FanDuel promo code

  2. Read about the Best College Football Betting Sites

  3. Learn about Best Sports Betting Apps

Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State Prediction: Pick

  1. Under 45.5 points, -115 (at FanDuel)

Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State Prediction: Analysis

Oklahoma State’s defense was a steaming pile of garbage for most of the regular season.

Not only did the Cowboys surrender 44 points to Central Michigan in the season opener, but they allowed an average of 31.6 points in nine Big 12 games.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Only Iowa State failed to score at least 24 points against Oklahoma State, tallying just two touchdowns in a 20-14 loss (which happens to be the Cowboys’ only victory since Oct. 22).

However, Wisconsin’s offense didn’t exactly leave scoreboard operators with sprained fingers this season. The Badgers had a three-game stretch in which they put up 42, 28 (in overtime) and 35 points against Northwestern, Michigan State and Purdue, respectively.

Otherwise, Wisconsin averaged 15.8 points against Washington State and six Big Ten opponents. In the last four games alone, the Badgers scored 23, 10, 15 and 16 points.

And that was all with second-year starting quarterback Graham Mertz under center.

Mertz, who decided to enter the transfer portal, didn’t put up gaudy stats — he completed just 57% of his passes for 178 yards per game with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. However, he was a leader with a lot of experience (30 games played since 2000).

The same can’t be said for senior Chase Wolf and freshman Myles Burkett, who combined for a whopping 11 pass attempts this season. One of the two will start in place of Mertz on Tuesday.

» READ MORE: NFL Week 17 lines: Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys among biggest favorites

Of course, the Badgers’ offense has long revolved around a beefy offensive line and strong running game. Well, starting center Joe Tippman is one of the NFL Draft opt-outs. Two other part-time offensive linemen also won’t play, and Wisconsin is down four tight ends (three are injured, while another went into the portal).

Then there’s No. 1 running back Braelon Allen, who has 1,121 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and a leg injury that has him questionable.

So even though Oklahoma State’s Swiss cheese defense is down two starting defensive ends and linebacker Mason Cobb (who had a team-high 96 tackles), we can’t see Wisconsin’s offense marching up and down Chase Field all night.

Similarly, how much damage can the Cowboys’ offense do without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders?

A surprising entrant into the transfer portal, Sanders accounted for more than 3,000 yards of offense and produced 25 touchdowns (17 passing, eight rushing). Leading rusher Dominic Richardson (543 yards, eight TDs) also sprinted into the portal.

That means coach Mike Gundy’s offense — which struggled big time down the stretch — will be without two players who accounted for nearly 80% of the team’s offensive touchdowns (33 of 42).

What’s left of the offense — which will be led by one of two freshmen, Gunnar Gunday or Garret Rangel — will have to navigate one of college football’s best defenses.

The Badgers yield just 20.5 points and 305.4 rushing yards per contest. Take out a 52-21 loss to Ohio State in which the Buckeyes rolled up 539 yards, and those per-game averages fall to 17.6 and 284.2.

Yes, Wisconsin also is without a few defensive starters (the unit is particularly thin at cornerback). But will it matter against an Oklahoma State offense that — with Sanders — averaged just 13.6 points in the final five games after putting up 34.8 points in the team’s first six contests against FBS opponents?

We think not.

FanDuel and other books have this total sitting in the mid-40s, but these depleted teams shouldn’t come close to that number. Play it Under and look for a final score in the 17-13 range.

Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State Odds: (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: Wisconsin (-3.5) @ Oklahoma State (+3.5)

  2. Moneyline: Wisconsin (-164) @ Oklahoma State (+136)

  3. Total: 45.5 points (Over -105/Under -115)

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.