Wisconsin vs

Oklahoma St.

at Phoenix
Tue, Dec 27
7:15 PM Pacific
Rotation: 243
Odds: Oklahoma St. +3.5, Total: 43

Game Analysis

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1-Star Best Bet – *Over (43) – Wisconsin (-3.5)  28   Oklahoma State  23

The total on this game opened at 48.5 points and dropped 5 points when Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders announced that he was entering the transfer portal. I have Sanders valued at just 3.3 points to the total, which may be too much, and Wisconsin not having their starting quarterback is worth 1.8 points, although there is a chance that his backup could be an upgrade given Mertz’ sub-par 57.3% completion percentage. However, there are a lot of defensive losses for both teams that don’t appear to be factored into the total on this game.

Oklahoma State’s offense was just average with Sanders at quarterback from a compensated yards per play perspective, but the Cowboys fast-paced attack led to 79 plays per game and over 400 yards per game in total offense. Backup quarterbacks Garret Rangel (the likely starter) and Gunnar Gundy combined for just 5.1 yards per pass play on 110 pass plays against FCS teams. However, Rangel was 0.4 yards per pass play better than average in his week 10 start against Kansas (7.0 yppp against a KU defense that would allow 6.6 yppp on the road to an average QB), which is 0.1 yppp better than Sanders’ season rating. Rangel’s other start was the season finale, which was played in steady mid-teens wind and rain throughout the game (mostly heavy rain), so his horrible 3.4 yards per pass play in that game can be explained. Afterall, West Virginia’s quarterback Greene averaged an even worse 2.8 yppp in that game and he was average this season otherwise. I think Rangel is more likely to play like he did against Kansas, when he completed 68% of his passes, than he did in horrendous passing conditions in his other start. This game is being played with the roof closed at Chase Field, so the conditions will be perfect. I’ve never been a fan of Sanders, who over his 3 seasons was the worst passing quarterback that coach Gundy has had in his 18 seasons, and this season was his worst at just 57.6% completions and 6.3 yards per pass play. To be conservative, I made Rangel 0.6 yppp worse than Sanders, with a higher interception percentage, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rangel performs better than Sanders given every quarterback that Gundy has had is better than Sanders.

There’s a chance that the Cowboys’ #3 receiver Bryson Green may not play due to injury and Green averaged 8.85 yards per target this season. However, Jaden Bray, Langston Anderson, and Braylin Pressley have all transferred and those 3 combined for just 3.73 YPT on 40 targets and not having them would cancel out not having Green, who I’ll assume is out for now and would be a plus if he plays.

Sanders’ value as a runner is worth more than his mediocre passing, as his 486 yards on 89 runs (5.5 yprp) isn’t going to be replaced by Rangel, who is clearly not a runner based on his two starts. However, the Cowboys’ running backs are better without Dominic Richardson, whose pathetic 3.6 ypr is much worse than the rest of the backs, who combined for 4.7 ypr. Ollie Gordon got the start in the season finale against a better than average West Virginia run defense and ran for 136 yards on 17 runs, which is even more impressive given that his longest run was just 24 yards. The improvement in the running backs balances out the loss of Sanders’ running and is worth +1.2 points to the total.

Wisconsin’s defense was 0.9 yppl better than average this season, allowing just 4.8 yppl (against teams that would average 5.7 yppl) and 20.5 points per game but that unit has been hit with 3 defections (NT Burton, LB Herbig, and CB Shaw) who have all opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Those 3 combined for 11 sacks, 15.5 additional tackles for loss and 11 passes defended and they are worth a combined 3.5 points to the Badgers’ defense, which is more than the negative adjustment I made to the Cowboys’ offense.

Wisconsin’s offense was 0.4 yppl better than average this season and Mertz was 0.6 yppp better than average despite his sub-par 57.3% completion percentage. I don’t think Mertz will be tough to replace, but I’ll assume that his backups will be 0.6 yppp worse, which is the average for a backup quarterback. Wisconsin’s rush attack also was downgraded due to Isaac Guerendo transferring out. The Badgers still have star Braelon Allen (5.4 ypr) but no Guerendo (385 yards at 6.0 ypr) means more of Chez Mellusi (4.1 ypr) and that difference is worth 1.5 points when combined with the transfer of starting center Joe Tippman. Overall, the Badgers offense was downgraded 3.5 points in this game.

Oklahoma State was just 0.2 yppl better than average defensively in the regular season and the Cowboys have had a lot of defections on that side of the ball too. Defensive end Tyler Lacy has opted out while DE Trace Ford has decided to transfer. Leading tackler Mason Cobb (96 tackles, including 13 TFL) has also hit the transfer portal and those 4 players have combined for 6 sacks, 26.5 total tackles for loss and 9 passes defended (Lacy batted down 6 passes at the line of scrimmage). I value those players at 1.6 points towards the total.

My model would have predicted 49.7 total points in this game before any player or scoring conditions adjustments were made and a compensated points model (excluding overtime points) projects 54.2 total points. The defensive adjustments are about the same as the offensive adjustments, and this game is being played in a dome, which adds 3.4 points (versus average weather conditions) given the projected pace of this game. My math projects 53.3 total points and I’d still project 48.0 total points in this game if I assume that the opening total of 48.5 points was the fair line before the opt outs were announced.

It seems to me that the market has reacted to the offensive defections (I value at -5.6 points) and not at all for all the defensive starters that won’t be playing in this game, which I value at 5.1 points. I don’t recall a bowl game being played in a domed stadium ever having a total this low and an argument can be made that the backup quarterbacks for each team are at least as good throwing the ball as the mediocre starters that they’re replacing (although I downgraded each pass attack).

The over is a 1-Star Best Bet at 44 points or less (Strong Opinion at 44.5 points).

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Wisconsin
  • Oklahoma St.


  • Run Plays 35.7 31.4
  • Run Yards 183.8 123.3
  • YPRP 5.2 3.9


  • Pass Comp 14.4 17.3
  • Pass Att 25.1 28.7
  • Comp % 57.5% 60.2%
  • Pass Yards 188.1 199.4
  • Sacks 1.9 2.7
  • Sack Yards 11.5 18.3
  • Sack % 7.1% 8.5%
  • Pass Plays 27.0 31.3
  • Net Pass Yards 176.6 181.1
  • YPPP 6.5 5.8


  • Total Plays 62.7 62.8
  • Total Yards 360.4 304.3
  • YPPL 5.8 4.9


  • Int 0.8 1.2
  • Int % 3.3% 4.1%
  • Fumbles 0.5 0.3
  • Turnovers 1.3 1.4
  • Points 26.5 20.5
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