This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State Expert Picks for Guaranteed Rate Bowl
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The Wisconsin Badgers (6-6) try to send fan favorite Jim Leonhard out a winner, as he coaches the team for the last time in Tuesday's Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix. Leonard, the former Badgers safety and longtime defensive coordinator took over the team when Paul Chryst was fired earlier this season and led UW to a 4-3 record down the stretch but will not be retained when Luke Fickell takes over after this game.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-5) really dropped off this year after going 12-2 in 2021 and being a 21-16 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game away from a likely CFP berth. It turns out that letting former defensive coordinator Jim Knowles go to Ohio State in the offseason was a death blow, as the Cowboys went from the nation's #3 ranked total defense a year ago (278.4 ypg) to 10th worst in 2022 (460.0).
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Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State Odds for Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Spread: Wisconsin -3.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Total: 45.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Moneyline: Wisconsin -164 (FanDuel Sportsbook); Oklahoma State +150 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Sportsbooks had their work cut out for them putting a line on this game as both teams' starting QBs - Wisconsin's Graham Mertz and Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders - have entered the transfer portal. That's a much bigger blow to the Cowboys who had the #20 passing attack in the FBS (283.8 ypg) which is why UW gets the -3.5 favorite tag here.
Tuesday's four-game bowl slate also features three other games with totals that opened in the 60s (Camellia Bowl, First Responder Bowl, Birmingham Bowl), but points look to be at a premium with the Guaranteed Rate Bowl total of just 45.5.
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Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State Betting Picks This Week
What makes Tuesday's Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State game even harder to handicap is that Mertz and Sanders are not the only transfers/opt-outs by far. Six Badgers players are opting out for NFL draft prep including Nick Herbig (#24 LB), Keeanu Benton (#29 NT), and Joe Tippman (#37 OL).
Oklahoma State has been hit worse by the transfer portal than by opt-outs, with Sanders being a 4-year starter at QB getting interest from Auburn, leading tackler Mason Cobb heading to USC, and top rusher Dominic Richardson moving on to Baylor. OSU does have more coaching stability though and in a game with so many moving parts you almost have to take the points.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl Best Bet: Oklahoma State +3.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State Prediction
Nobody would blame you for taking the Badgers in this spot, because they do have the better defense (305.4 ypg, 13th in the FBS) and are motivated to send Leonhard out a winner as a respected UW alum and who has been one of the best DC's in the country over the past five years.
Not everybody in the Wisconsin locker room is thrilled with the Fickell hire though as evidenced by around 20 players missing this game for various reasons. Mike Gundy is also 11-5 in bowl games with Oklahoma State, so he treats these tilts legitimately which is sometimes all you look for at this point in the college football season.
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