Minnesota Golden Gophers College Football Betting
Paul Bunyan’s Axe is one of the most iconic rivalry trophies in the Big Ten. It has been the prize for the rivalry game between Minnesota and Wisconsin for over 75 years, and both teams are hoping that they will be playing for it on Saturday. This game is in doubt as there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at Minnesota, leading to the Golden Gophers cancelling practice for the last two days.
Currently, Wisconsin is slated to host Minnesota on Saturday, November 28, at 2 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Odds
Minnesota Golden Gophers TBA
Wisconsin Badgers TBA
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Matchup
If these rivals do end up playing on Saturday, it will be the 130th meeting between these programs. This is the most played rivalry in the FBS, and Wisconsin has a 61-60-8 lead in the series after the Badgers won 14 straight games between 2004 and 2017.
Wisconsin was seen as the favorite in the Big Ten West after big wins over Illinois and Michigan, but the Badgers will have a hard time winning the division after their loss to Northwestern last week. Graham Mertz had the worst game of his young career, turning the ball over four times in a 17-7 loss to the Wildcats. Mertz figures to have a much better game against Minnesota this week. He is completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 7.2 YPA with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Tight end Jake Ferguson has been the top target by a mile, catching 18 passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns. He has twice as many receptions and receiving yards as any other player, so Minnesota must know where he is at all times. Wisconsin has a formidable rushing game too, as Jalen Berger and Nakia Watson wear down defenses.
The Golden Gophers have one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, so stopping anyone is a tall order. They currently have the 96th ranked defense per SP+, and they are allowing 6.8 YPC and 8.7 YPA. Both those numbers are awful, but the run defense is extremely concerning as the Badgers will run all over this front seven if allowed.
P.J. Fleck will rely on Mohamed Ibrahim to lead the way on offense. It’s rare to see a workhorse back in this era of load management, but Fleck is allowing Ibrahim to carry the ball more than anyone in the country. Ibrahim has 155 carries for 817 yards (5.3 YPC) with 13 touchdowns through just five games.
This offense was far more balanced in 2019, but Tanner Morgan’s regression has led to Fleck running the ball more often. Morgan is completing just 59.4 percent of his passes, and while he is averaging 8.1 YPA, he has thrown four interceptions. Minnesota has two superb receivers in Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell, but they haven’t been used to their potential in 2020.
Wisconsin has one of the top defenses in the country. The Badgers are allowing just 11.7 PPG and 233.3 YPG, but this will be the best offense they have seen all year.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Recap
The third time was the charm for Minnesota when it came to playing under Friday night lights. After being stunned by Maryland at the end of October and getting hammered by Iowa last Friday, the Golden Gophers secured a controversial 34-31 victory over Purdue this past Friday.
Purdue appeared to score the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining, but it was called back by one of the worst offensive pass interference penalties in recent memory. Jack Plummer threw an interception on the very next play, allowing Minnesota to move to 2-3.
Plummer was stellar despite the interception, completing 35 of 42 passes for 367 yards with three touchdowns. Purdue racked up almost 500 total yards of offense against Minnesota’s maligned defense, as Rondale Moore returned to register 136 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches. J.D. Dellinger made just one of his three field goal attempts though, and that cost the Boilermakers big time.
P.J. Fleck continues to use Ibrahim as a battering ram, allowing Ibrahim to carry the ball 25 times for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Minnesota ended the game with just 41 carries for 130 yards though, highlighting some of the issues on offense. Morgan was efficient, completing 15 of 22 passes for 264 yards, but it’s clear the Golden Gophers don’t trust him.
2020 Minnesota Golden Gophers Schedule
||L 44-45 (OT)
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