Aside from having one of the best names for a college football bowl game, the 2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl features an intriguing match-up. Two teams sitting at .500 will square off as the ACC and the Big Ten duel in Charlotte. The Wisconsin Badgers, who come in with a 3-3 record, face off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who currently sit at 4-4. A shot at a winning season hangs in the balance as the two sides look to close out a strange season with a victory.
2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl Preview
Strength on Strength
The game will certainly be a classic strength on strength match-up. For Wake Forest, its offense has been great this season, averaging 37 points per game, good for third in the ACC. Leading the way for the Demon Deacons is quarterback Sam Hartman. Hartman has not had a crazy good season, but any year that a passer can finish with a 10 touchdown to one interception ratio is a good year.
The real strength of the offense has been the two-headed attack out of the backfield. Christian Beal and Kenneth Walker III have had a phenomenal season on the ground, averaging a combined just over five yards per carry so far this year. They have also combined for 17 rushing touchdowns this season.
On the other side of things, Wisconsin’s defense has been similarly as good in the Big Ten. The Badgers have only allowed 15.7 points per game, which is good enough to have them ranked second in the conference. Four players have been able to snag an interception for the Badgers, while four different players were able to recover a fumble at some point this season. That just goes to show how versatile and dynamic the defense has been for the Badgers this season.
Weakness on Weakness
Things could very well be decided when those two units are not on the field. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz will be the key if the Badgers want to win this game. That is if Mertz plays, as it is currently being reported that he is nursing an undisclosed injury. As a redshirt freshman this year, Mertz has completed 60.8 percent of passes. However, he has a worrisome eight touchdown to five-interception ratio. The Demon Deacons are giving up over 30 points per game. If Mertz can play well, this is Wisconsin’s game to win. If he has an issue with ball security, that throws the door open for Wake Forest.
What is at Stake
This is a game that both teams will most certainly want to win. A win means that their program will have a winning season, while a loss means they will have a losing season. The Badgers have not had a losing season since a 5-7 record in 2001. Conversely, it would only be the fifth consecutive winning season for a Demon Deacon program that is still on the rise. Both coaches will want to keep those streaks going in this bizarre season. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is set to kick-off at noon ET on Dec. 30. The game will be broadcast by ESPN.
Photo courtesy of Duke’s Mayo.