It has been an interesting season for the Arizona State football team. The Sun Devils finished second in the Pac-12 South after putting together an 8-4 record in the regular season, including a 6-3 mark in conference play.
However, some may call it a slight disappointment.
The team was pegged as the favorite to win its division after the first third of the season and appear in the Pac-12 Conference Championship game. But three losses to unranked conference opponents sent the Sun Devils tumbling down the rankings.
Now, Arizona State can finish the season on a high note. Now, the Sun Devils prepare for the Wisconsin Badgers, who make their way west from the Big Ten Conference. It should be a fun getaway for the athletes and their families as they head to Sin City to take part in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Arizona sportsbooks favor rising Wisconsin over setting Sun Devils
Although Arizona State won its final regular-season game while Wisconsin was unable to do the same, the momentum is squarely on the side of the Badgers. Before losing to Minnesota, Wisconsin had won seven straight games. Meanwhile, ASU has gone 3-3 in their last six games.
Heading into the Las Vegas Bowl matchup, Arizona online sportsbooks like the Badgers to leave Vegas with a win as Wisconsin is favored with a spread of .
Although both teams have the same record, many experts view the Big Ten as a stronger and tougher conference than the Pac-12. The general belief is that Wisconsin would have come out with a better record than ASU if their played similar schedules.
The line hasn’t moved much since opening with Wisconsin favored by a touchdown, with the Badgers’ edge still universally sitting between six and seven points. The total has also remained quite steady after opening at 43 points, as bettors can still find the over/under for points at . This is a low number that makes sense due to the defenses involved.
However, as with many things related to college football betting in Arizona, it may not necessarily be a sure thing to go with the under.
Two defense-first teams preparing to slug it out in Las Vegas Bowl
The Las Vegas Bowl features two teams led by their defenses that scrap to put points on the board. Offensive struggles for the Sun Devils and the Badgers led to a combined 11-13 record against the spread. Something has to give.
The Sun Devils were hoping to take the next step in their development with quarterback Jayden Daniels entering his junior season. However, their passing offense never really kicked it into high gear. When the Sun Devils lose, they get blown out. All four of their losses were by at least 10 points. Most Arizona State games this season featured over/under totals into the 50s and higher. This is easily the Devils’ lowest total of the year. Arizona State alone has scored 31 or more points in three of their last four games.
Before the season, Wisconsin looked to be a potential contender in the Big Ten. But that potential was tied to the development and performance of quarterback Graham Mertz. Unfortunately, Mertz fell flat, completing only 58.7% of his passes for nine touchdowns against 10 interceptions. The Badgers became reliant on a star rusher in Braelon Allen and a strong defense.
Wisconsin is dominant in the trenches, paving the way for the nation’s 16th-best rushing attack and an offense that ranked eighth nationally in time of possession.
Arizona State and Wisconsin have faced off only four other times. The Sun Devils are 3-1 all-time against the Badgers, with the Maroon & Gold coming away with a 32-30 victory in the most recent meeting in 2013 at Sun Devil Stadium. This will be the first postseason meeting between the two programs.
Arizona State missing some pieces heading into Las Vegas Bowl
Due to NFL Draft opt-outs and the transfer portal, ASU will also be without some key pieces.
Running back DeaMonte Trayanum has elected to transfer to Ohio State. He spent the last two seasons at Arizona State, rushing for 402 yards and six touchdowns in the 2021 season. With the Buckeyes, though, he expects to line up on the other side of the ball as he will be switching to linebacker.
Another running back, Rachaad White, is a potential superstar, but he opted out of the Las Vegas Bowl while declaring for the 2022 NFL draft. Also declaring for the draft, the Sun Devils’ second-leading tackler in linebacker Darien Butler, who recorded 68 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions in 2021. Two more players, cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Jack Jones, have also chosen to opt out. Plus, all-Pac-12 offensive lineman Dohnovan West will miss the game due to an injury.
On the other side, no one has opted out of the bowl game for Wisconsin. However, few teams across college football have lost as many players to the transfer portal as the Badgers.
Wisconsin had eight players enter the portal during the regular season. Although it’s important to note three of them did so after being dismissed or suspended by the program. The five others left for reasons related to playing time, among other things. Only outside linebacker Izayah Green-May waited until after the season to enter the portal.
2021 SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Wisconsin Badger (8-4) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (8-4)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 30
Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: Allegiant Stadium – Las Vegas, Nevada
TV Coverage: ESPN