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LSU vs. Wisconsin: Picks, best bets for ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa on Monday

The Tigers meet the Badgers in Tampa on New Years Day.

LSU v Missouri Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The No. 13 LSU Tigers take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday, December 1. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. LSU will be playing without its Heisman-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels, who has opted out of the bowl as he begins to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft.

LSU (9-3, 6-2 SEC) began their season with a disappointing blowout against Florida State. The Tigers’ defense struggled all season, and couldn’t quite lift Heisman winner Jayden Daniels to a shot at the SEC title game. High-scoring losses to Ole Miss (55-49) and Alabama (42-28) defined this team’s season. LSU averaged the most points per game in the nation with 44.1, but ranked 83rd in points allowed per game. They finished off their season with victories over Florida and Texas A&M. Neither of the Tigers’ top two receivers (Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas Jr) plan to opt out of the bowl game, and backup Garrett Nussmeier will start under center.

Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 B1G) had their ups and downs in conference play — they kept it close with Ohio State and beat Illinois and Rutgers, but lost to Northwestern and Indiana and let Nebraska take them to overtime. The Badgers are losing their top running back and two top receivers to the transfer portal and draft, and will be taking the field without them. However, since their offense was not a significant difference-maker this season, this may not be as disastrous as it initially sounds. Wisconsin ranked 14th in the nation in points allowed per game.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

LSU: 10 overall, 2 offense, 56 defense
Wisconsin: 28 overall, 91 offense, 6 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

LSU

TE Jackson McGohan - Out (transfer portal)
QB George Hamsley - Out (transfer portal)
RB Armoni Goodwin - Out (transfer portal)
QB Tavion Faulk - Out (transfer portal)
RB Tre Bradford - Out (transfer portal)
QB Jayden Daniels - Out (draft)

Wisconsin

WR Keontez Lewis - Out (transfer portal)
WR Chimere Dike - Out (transfer portal)
QB Myles Burkett - Out (transfer portal)
WR Skyler Bell - Out (transfer portal)
RB Braelon Allen - Out (draft)
WR Bryson Green - Questionable (ankle)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

LSU: 8-4 ATS
Wisconsin: 5-6-1 ATS

Total in 2023

LSU: Over 11-1
Wisconsin: Over 4-8

Team Pace

LSU: 26.4 seconds per play
Wisconsin: 24.2 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: LSU -10
Total: 56
Moneyline: LSU -360, Wisconsin +285

Weather

67°F, Partly cloudy, 2% chance of rain, 5 MPH winds

Our Best Bet for the ReliaQuest Bowl

LSU -10

Despite Wisconsin’s solid defense, they will not have enough of an offensive presence to keep up with LSU here. Getting stops is only half the battle — the Badgers will need to be able to score, and even as they go up against LSU’s struggling defense, I do not believe in this depleted Wisconsin offense. LSU will take the opportunity to grab a decisive win (and Brian Kelly will look to erase his NY6 bowl narrative).