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Wisconsin Football vs. LSU: Key Players, Notes, & Betting Lines

Wisconsin Football Bowl Game Preview: LSU.



Wisconsin Badgers football to face LSU in ReliaQuest Bowl
Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers safety D'Cota Dixon (14) reacts after intercepting a pass in the 4th quarter against the LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin Badgers football team finished with a 7-5 record and will now put a bow on its season when they take on the No. 13 LSU Tigers on New Year’s Day in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

LSU comes into this game with a 9-3 record under head coach Brian Kelly and has won six of its last seven contests, with some notable wins coming over Texas A&M, Florida, and Auburn. A victory would mark back-to-back ten-win seasons for the Tigers under Coach Kelly, representing the most successful start to a coaching tenure at LSU since Les Miles in 2005.

As it stands, kickoff is set for 11 AM central time on Monday and will air on ESPN 2. But before that happens, here is a look at some key players, a few matchup notes, and the opening spread for the Wisconsin football team’s matchup vs. LSU in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Key Players

WR Malik Nabers: LSU had the top-ranked offense in the country this past season, thanks in large part to Heisman Trophy recipient Jayden Daniels, who opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. 

However, junior wideout Malik Nabers, who will be on the field for the bowl game, gave Daniels a star receiver all season long and will be the top player to watch when Wisconsin football takes the field.  

The Louisiana native appeared in 12 games this season and caught 86 passes for a total of 1,546 yards (No. 1 in the country) and 14 touchdowns on an impressive 18 yards per catch. It’s also worth mentioning that Nabers eclipsed 100 yards receiving in nine of those contests. 

Pro Football Focus gave Nabers a 93.3 grade on the season, which is considered elite while splitting time on the boundary and in the slot. 

Wisconsin football cornerbacks Ricardo Hallman, Nyzier Fourqurean, and safety Austin Brown, who is expected to play the slot corner position, will have their hands full trying to slow Nabers. 

WR Brian Thomas Jr.: As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Wisconsin Badgers needed to prepare for the nation’s top wide receiver, his counterpart, Brian Thomas Jr., was also a 1,000-yard receiver in 2023. 

Thomas caught 60 passes for 1,079 yards and 15 touchdowns, playing primarily on the perimeter for the Tigers. The 6-foot-4 junior went over 100-yard receiving in six games and will be another dynamic weapon Wisconsin will need to slow down to keep pace with LSU. 

Wisconsin Football Matchup Notes

  • Wisconsin football is 1-3 against LSU all-time.
  • The last meeting took place on September 3, 2016, when Wisconsin won 16-14 at Lambeau Field. 
  • LSU’s offense averaged 46.4 points per game and 547.8 yards per game of total offense in 2023. 
  • The Badgers have yet to beat an opponent with more than 6 regular season wins in Luke Fickell’s first year as head coach. 

Wisconsin Football Spread & Betting Lines vs. LSU

When the Wisconsin football team takes the field at Raymond James Stadium on New Year’s Day, they’ll do it as 10-point underdogs against the LSU Tigers, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. 

Thus far, the Wisconsin Badgers are currently 4-6-2 against the spread this season and 4-8 on hitting the over. 

  • Moneyline (ML): LSU -395 OR Wisconsin +310
  • Against the spread: Wisconsin +10 (-110)
  • Over/Under (O/U): 56 (O: -110 U: -110)

The Badgers rewarded my blind faith in back-to-back weeks against Nebraska and Minnesota to end the regular season. That said, I won’t push my luck too much in this matchup. 

Even without Jayden Daniels, LSU still has a ton of weapons on offense and should give the Badgers defense some fits. Not to mention, Braelon Allen isn’t walking through the door to help Wisconsin football control the clock on offense, leaving them with Jackson Acker and Cade Yacamelli at running back. 

Tanner Mordecai will start at quarterback, which is all well and good, but I’m still having a hard time seeing this Badgers team finding a way to overcome the talent disparity. Let’s remember that UW’s best wins this season came over Rutgers and Minnesota. 

Now, onto my degenerate gambling tendencies. I’ll pass on the Wisconsin football money-line, but I’ll take the Badgers to cover the spread (because I’m a homer) and the under. LSU games have hit the over in 15 of the last 16 games they’ve played in, but an offensively challenged Badgers team against a Tigers team rolling out their backup QB is a recipe, in my eyes, for the under. 

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.