Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Gasparilla Bowl - Wake Forest vs. Missouri (12/23/2022) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Gasparilla Bowl – Wake Forest vs. Missouri (12/23/2022)

By Michael Savio
December 21, 2022

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs Missouri Tigers (12/23 @ 6:30 PM EST)

Spread: Wake Forest -1
Money Line: Wake Forest -115 / Missouri -105
Total: 58.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5) and Missouri Tigers (6-6) will meet Friday night in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. The game will be the first between these two programs. The Deacons are 1-4 over their last five, while the Tigers are 3-2.

Wake Forest is 7-5 against the spread but has only covered one of their last five games. They are 5-7 in favor of the under, thanks partly to going under the total in six of their previous eight games.

Missouri is also 7-5 versus the spread, having covered three of their last five games. They are 4-8 in favor of the under but have gone over the total in their previous three games.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

This season, the Wake Forest offense averages 447.8 yards and 36.8 points per game. They feature an elite pass attack that averages 314.6 yards per game (10th in FBS) thanks to the play of Sam Hartman, who has 3,421 yards (13th in FBS) and 35 touchdowns (5th in FBS). The junior has been sensational all season and has over 300 yards in five of his last six games. He has 19 touchdowns and nine of his 11 interceptions during that span. As good as he’s been, the turnovers have been brutal and a reason the Deacons have now lost four of their last five. He is supported by his top receiver, AT Perry. The junior has 980 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year and has scored in all but three games this season. He’s an electric playmaker with at least one play of 29 or more yards in his last four games. When Perry isn’t being targeted, expect Hartman to spread the ball around to a deep pool of pass-catchers that includes Donovan Greene (615 yards, 6 TD), Kahmal Banks (564 yards, 8 TD), Ke’Shawn Williams (553 yards, 1 TD), and Taylor Morin (545 yards, 7 TDs).

The Deacon’s run game is led by Justice Ellison (643 yards, 5 TDs) and Christian Turner (516 yards, 7 TDs). They’ve been splitting carries fairly evenly, but Ellison has been the more explosive rusher over the last three weeks. It’s not a devastating attack, especially considering most defenses they’ve faced have been focused on stopping the pass. Keep an eye on their workload Thursday, as we wouldn’t be surprised if Wake Forest decided to pound the ball a bit more, given Hartman’s turnover problem.

The Deacons’ defense allows 410 yards and 29.3 points per game this season. After a decent start to the season, things went south recently, as they are allowing 36.6 points per game over their last five games. While the unit was never overly impressive, they have been put on the spot by the offense turning the ball over. They’ve been led by the play of Jasheen Davis (7 sacks) and Rondell Bothroyd (5 sacks). The secondary has been an issue, with just seven interceptions between seven different players. They’ll face a weaker Missouri offense Friday night, so we’ll see if the unit can end its downward trend.

Missouri Tigers

The Tiger’s offense averages 370.9 yards and 25.5 points per game this season. They are led by quarterback Brady Cook, who has 2,509 yards and 13 touchdowns. The sophomore is also a threat to run the ball, with 547 rush yards to go with six touchdowns. He’s been turned loose as of late, with 315 rushing yards in his last three games. What’s more impressive is Cook’s ability to hang on to the ball, as he has not thrown an interception since October 22nd. Expect him to look to his top receiver Dominic Lovett on Thursday, as the fellow sophomore leads the team with 846 yards and three touchdowns. Lovett has been quiet over his last four games but broke out of the slump in their previous game with 130 yards on six receptions (5 for 57 yards in three games before that). Lovett joins Barrett Banister (408 yards, 0 TD) and Lither Burden III (329 yards, 6 TD) to round out the core of the Missouri pass attack.

The Tigers’ run attack is led by Cody Schrader, who has 691 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. He and Cook combine to form a deadly duo that will test this Wake Forest defense. Schrader is coming off two good games, with a combined 157 yards and three touchdowns in that span. Keep an eye on senior Nathaniel Peat (400 yards, 2 TD) on Friday as well. While he’s been limited to eight carries in their last three games, Peat has shown he could be a playmaker earlier this season with two games over 110 yards. If the Tigers’ run game stalls on Friday, expect Peat to see an uptick in carries.

The Missouri defense allowed 337.3 yards and 25 points per game. The unit has been good enough for most of the season, minus a 66-point performance against Tennessee a few weeks ago. They have been led by the play of Isaiah McGuire (7 sacks) and DJ Coleman (5.5 sacks). Coleman has been on fire in the second half of the season, with his sacks coming in the last seven games. McGuire has played well, too, with three of his sacks coming in the previous three games. Both will be needed to get pressure on Hartman Friday. The secondary has been led by the play of Daylan Carnell (3 INT) and Jaylon Carlies (2 INT, 72 tackles). They join Ennis Rakestraw Jr (12 PD, 1 INT) to form a trio of defensive backs that will challenge the turnover-prone Deacons.

Free Pick: Missouri +1

As talented as Wake Forest’s offense is, we have concerns about the number of turnovers they are committing. The defense is already struggling but putting them on the field more has been wearing them down all season. We see the Missouri defense rushing Hartman to make throws that leads to at least a couple of interceptions. That should be the only window this Missouri team needs to win what should be a close game.

We’re taking the point to roll with Missouri on Friday. 

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