The 2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl features the 4-4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons against the 3-3 Wisconsin Badgers in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ll break down the two teams.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-4)
Wake Forest started off with a tough stretch against Clemson, NC State and Notre Dame. They lost the first two and had the Notre Dame canceled. A four game winning streak put the Demon Deacons back on the map midway through the season. Losses to UNC and Louisville still has them bowl bound for the fourth season in a row.
Wake Forest comes in with the third best scoring offense in the ACC at 37 points per game. They lean towards the passing game that averages 265.8 yards per game. The defense allows a concerning 31.6 points per game and allow the ACC’s third worst 456.9 yards per game.
Sophomore Sam Hartman leads the strong passing attack. The third year starter threw his first interception of the year in the final game against Louisville. He has 1,906 yards and 10 touchdowns to just one interception.
The backfield is anchored by a two headed monster of Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker III. The pair split carries throughout the season but Walker had 13 touchdowns to Beal-Smith’s 4. Walker opted out of the season before the Louisville game so Beal-Smith will have to carry the bulk of the running game against Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Badgers (3-3)
Wisconsin was bit by the COVID bug early and often which resulted in three canceled games this year. The Badgers beat Illinois and Michigan before a three game losing streak, all against ranked teams. They finished the season with a three point win over Minnesota.
Wisconsin has a very strong defense but has been hindered by an ineffective offense. The defense ranks second in the B1G with 15.7 points allowed this year. Meanwhile the offense is 12th with just 22.3 points per game including three games of one touchdown or less.
The defense is led by NFL Draft prospect Jack Sanborn. The junior leads the team in tackles with 41 to go along with a forced fumble. Eric Burrell highlights a strong secondary who has one of the team’s four interceptions. And senior defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk leads the charge up front for the B1G’s best rush defense.
A combination of injuries and COVID protocols has left the Wisconsin with three runningbacks who have shouldered the load. The ground game has been the most effective part of their offense. The passing game has struggled behind freshman Graham Mertz. Mertz has thrown just one touchdown since his first two games against five interceptions.
Wake Forest should be slowed down a little by a strong Wisconsin defense. The Demon Deacons should still put up respectable numbers, leaving the pressure on the Wisconsin offense to rise to the challenge and improve on their regular season numbers.
Wake Forest: 19, Wisconsin: 17
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