The 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl odds are the game formerly known as the Outback Bowl, played in Tampa. It is always an SEC-Big Ten game, and this year’s contest feels hard to predict for one very obvious reason: The best player on these two teams from the 2023 regular season will not play in the game.
LSU 2023 Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels won’t play in this game. He is opting out and heading for the NFL. He is beginning his preparations now instead of playing an average Wisconsin team in a game which doesn’t have especially high stakes. Daniels being out for LSU makes it harder to base an assessment of this game on what we have seen from the Tigers this past season. Let’s take a closer look at the betting strategy for this contest.
Wisconsin Badgers vs LSU Tigers
Date: Monday, January 1st, 2024 – 12:00 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
2023 ReliaQuest Bowl Odds: LSU -9.5
*Odds courtesy of MyBookie. Check the MyBookie review for more details.
Wisconsin edge rusher Leon Lowery, linebacker Jordan Turner, and defensive end Darian Varner have all entered the transfer portal. They will not play in this game.
Wisconsin had a very difficult season under first-year head coach Luke Fickell. It is notable that Fickell was hired by the Badgers just after the 2022 season and actually coached the team on the sidelines at the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix against Oklahoma State. That’s not a normal course of events. Newly-hired head coaches usually watch their team’s bowl game from a distance. They might watch from the press box inside the stadium, but they very, very rarely coach the bowl game on the sidelines. Fickell did that. He immediately wanted to size up his players. Fickell left the bowl game thinking he needed to dramatically change Wisconsin’s traditional smashmouth offensive style and convert it into more of a spread passing attack.
Fickell accordingly hired offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who had prior experience at Ole Miss and North Carolina in devising pass-friendly offenses. Wisconsin and Fickell went for a total makeover in one year as opposed to a more gradual phase-in of new offensive concepts. The risk taken by Fickell immediately changing his team’s offensive style was that he had to remake the roster. He had to shuffle a lot of spots on the offense to accommodate the change in style. Doing this in one year was an invitation to chaos. Sure enough, Wisconsin’s offense never really came together. Iowa held Wisconsin to just six points. The Badgers were blown out by Northwestern. They scored only 10 points against Ohio State. They lost 20-14 to a bad Indiana team. Wisconsin just didn’t perform smoothly this season.
Star quarterback and 2023 Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels has opted out and will prepare for the NFL draft. He will not play in this game.
Cornerback Laterrance Welch, running back Armoni Goodwin, running back Kevonte Bradford, and edge rusher Bryce Langston have all entered the transfer portal. They will not play in this game.
The absence of Daniels immediately introduces questions about the LSU offense and how it will perform in this game under backup quarterback Garrett Nussmeier. That said, Wisconsin’s lack of a downfield passing game might save LSU, whose cornerbacks were awful this season and got torched by Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida, and other teams in SEC play. Wisconsin might not be equipped to take advantage of the Tigers’ main weakness.
Wisconsin vs. LSU Prediction:
LSU 24, Wisconsin 23