The ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida, serves up a captivating clash on January 1st, 2024, as the battle-tested Wisconsin Badgers, despite numerous injuries, face the talented but wounded LSU Tigers. Can the Badgers’ grit overcome the Tigers’ firepower in this intriguing bowl showdown? Let’s dissect the data, analyze the injury landscape, and predict the best picks for this New Year’s Day spectacle.

Model Consensus:

The AI models remain cautious due to the significant injuries on both sides, but lean towards LSU:

  • BettingPros Consensus: LSU -8.5
  • ESPN FPI: LSU 62.6% win probability
  • CBS Sports: Wisconsin 56% win probability
  • Sports Illustrated: LSU 58.6% win probability
  • BetQL: LSU -8.5, Under 55
  • SportsLine: LSU -8.5, Under 55

Pythagorean Theorem and Strength of Schedule:

Wisconsin’s 7-5 record translates to a predicted 22.7 wins with 9.3 losses based on their 351 points scored and 347 points allowed. LSU’s 9-3 record translates to a predicted 27.6 wins with 4.4 losses based on their 479 points scored and 224 points allowed. This analysis suggests a potent offense for LSU and a surprisingly resilient defense for Wisconsin.

However, strength of schedule paints a slightly different picture. Wisconsin faced the 119th toughest schedule compared to LSU’s 121st. This suggests that LSU’s wins might be slightly inflated due to a slightly easier route throughout the season.

Injury Report and Weather:

Both teams face a staggering list of injuries:

Wisconsin: Aaron Witt (QB), Bryson Green (WR), Jackson Acker (TE), Chris Brooks Jr. (RB), Chez Mellusi (RB), Max Lofy (LB), and Jackson Trudgeon (OL) are out. Braelon Allen (RB) and Michael Mack (DB) are out for non-injury reasons.

LSU: Landon Ibieta (DE), John Emery Jr. (RB), Zy Alexander (CB), Duce Chestnut (S), Greg Brooks Jr. (LB), and JK Johnson (WR) are injured. Jackson McGohan (QB) is out for non-injury reasons.

The weather in Tampa on January 1st is expected to be pleasant with clear skies and a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This shouldn’t significantly impact the game’s pace or style.

Personal Prediction:

This game hinges on which team can overcome their crippling injuries more effectively. While LSU boasts the higher-ranked offense, their missing personnel weakens their receiving corps and pass rush. Wisconsin’s defensive line remains strong despite Acker’s absence, and their running game might benefit from Allen’s non-injury related departure.

  • Wisconsin +8.5 (spread): Taking the points with Wisconsin offers significant value considering their defensive strength and LSU’s offensive personnel losses. While LSU’s talent remains potent, the Badgers’ resilience and defensive presence could keep them in the game.
  • Under 55 (total): Both teams’ defensive units appear well-equipped to stifle offenses depleted by injuries. Additionally, the Badgers are likely to rely on a more conservative rushing attack to compensate for their missing quarterback.

Pick: Take the under 55 points. ***LOSE***

Enjoy the ReliaQuest Bowl and witness the battle between the wounded Tigers and the gritty Badgers on New Year’s Day!