Without further ado, the BSD staff made their predictions for the game.
Wisconsin 45-Wake Forest 38
Wake Forest definitely earned this bowl bid. And while I think the matchup may tend to a shootout, I think the Deacs can match the firepower of Wisconsin.
Candidly, I have grown up in Big Ten country and think Wisconsin is a program that has always done well and succeeded. Though my heart tells me the Deacs can get it done, I think the Badgers have the talent and coaching to win the game against the Deacs missing Boogie Basham.
Wake Forest 24-Wisconsin 20
I really have no idea who is going to win this one. These 2 teams are pretty much polar opposites who did not play many games this season. One team is going to end up playing to the others pace, and that team is probably going to lose. If the Deacs can force the Badgers into a situation where they have to throw the ball and score points to keep up with our offense, we should be in good shape.
Wake Forest 31-Wisconsin 24
I honestly have no idea what to expect so I’m going to put forward a totally arbitrary guess and say 31-24 Wake, continuing our string of high-scoring bowl thrillers.
Wake Forest 35-Wisconsin 21
I was pessimistic when the matchup was first announced. It’s a true matchup of a team that hasn’t really recovered offensively from losing their weapons and doesn’t look to be getting their wide receivers back, but has an elite defense (Wisconsin) vs. a team that can run up and down the field at a moments notice on offense, but hasn’t had the best injury luck defensively and looked (generously) rough in half their games this year. My nod goes to Wake on a matter of who returns vs who doesn’t. Wisconsin appears to be still down Danny Davis and Kendrick Pryor, their top two receivers. They seem like they’ll return their starting RB Jalen Berger, but this offense has just been pedestrian at best without those 2. Wake will obviously be down Boogie Basham and Kenneth Walker, but looks to be also down Dion Bergan and Shamar McCollum. They do get back Donavon Greene (with a reshuffling of the wideouts that I’m bullish on), and a fully healthy Luke Masterson, Trey Rucker, Sulaiman Kamara, Zion Keith, and Coby Davis. It’s not the full rotation of safeties or defensive players as a whole, but it’s better than what they’ve had for 5 of the games this year, especially against UNC and Louisville.
I genuinely think this seems like a case of Wisconsin hasn’t really played good offense. They have great LBs in Leo Chenal, Jack Sanborn, and Nate Herbig, but I’m not as bullish on the rest of the team. This Wisconsin team has played 1 team in the top 80 in total YPG. They’ve played 1 team in the top 60 in PPG, Indiana two games after QB Michael Penix Jr. blew out his knee, and Indiana never really looked the same. The most consistent offense they’ve played all year was Iowa who whooped on them 28-7. Wisconsin on paper seems like a team that’s very good at dragging teams into dogfights, but in this weird season they haven’t really caught an offense that puts up points, yards, or even just plays per game like Wake. They’ve only played 2 teams in the top 70 in plays per game: Northwestern (who honestly doesn’t have a great offense; they’re just that good on defense similar to Wisconsin) and Minnesota who’s 76th with 70.7 plays per game. For reference Wake is 8th with over 80 plays run per game. If the Wake offense can get anything going, this tempo is just an absolute nightmare for a team that hasn’t had to play anything like it all season. Defensively, well I think having healthy safeties for the first time since Syracuse bodes well for this team as they can play with more confidence in the back and not put the front 7 in unwinnable situations.
Wisconsin 34-Wake Forest 17
Wake has had a fun year, but with Wisconsin coming full steam ahead I think we may be in for a bit of pain. They have a solid offensive front and should be able to establish a ground game. I hope the offense can stick with the d, but I see a Wisconsin win in the 34-17 ballpark.
Wake Forest 28-Wisconsin 24
It’s really hard to know what to expect in this game with both teams having not played anywhere close to a full season, and Wake having only played one game in a month and a half. However, I think Wake has enough key players participating in this game to make it both competitive and come out on top. Though guys like Carlos Basham Jr. (Boogie) and Kenneth Walker III won't be suited up for the Deacs tomorrow, I like our group on both sides of the ball. Sam Hartman should get settled in early and has plenty of weapons at his disposal in Donavon Greene, Jaquarii Roberson, Taylor Morin, and the rest of the receivers. Christian Beal-Smith provides speed out of the backfield, and let’s not forget that he too had quite an impressive season with several 100-yard rushing games and several games with multiple touchdowns. The defense should finally have some depth in the linebackers and secondary, and I think they can hold their own against a Wisconsin offense that struggled at times to put points on the board. Give me the Deacs in a close one.
How do you all think the Deacs will do? Comment below with your predictions.