Minnesota Golden Gophers College Football Betting
Paul Bunyan’s Axe will be up for grabs after all this year. Minnesota was originally supposed to travel to Madison to face Wisconsin on Thanksgiving weekend, but that game was canceled due to COVID-19. Rather than play cross-divisional foes on Champions Week, the Big Ten decided to have the Badgers host the Golden Gophers in order to ensure that one of the longest running rivalries in college football takes place.
Wisconsin leads this series all-time 61-60-8. Minnesota has won just one time since 2003, but P.J. Fleck has this team playing well despite injuries, illness, and opt-outs. This game is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 19, with Big Ten Network on the broadcast.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Odds
Minnesota Golden Gophers +11.5
Wisconsin Badgers -11.5
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Matchup
The Badgers are reeling ahead of Saturday’s game. Wisconsin has lost three straight games after a 2-0 start, as the offense has completely gone off the rails. After scoring 45 points against Illinois and 49 points against Michigan, the Badgers have scored a total of 20 points in their last three games.
Perhaps no player’s stock has fallen further than Graham Mertz. Mertz had a debut for the ages against Illinois. He completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdown passes in that game, but he has not had anywhere near the same success since that point. He has yet to complete more than 60 percent of his passes or average better than 6.0 YPA in Wisconsin’s last four games while throwing five interceptions in his last three starts.
Jalen Berger didn’t play last week against Iowa, and he appears unlikely to be available this week. That’s a big blow to the Badgers’ run game. The freshman is Wisconsin’s one reliable back, running for 267 yards (5.9 YPC) in three games. Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek are averaging just 3.6 YPC, so this offense might have a tough time moving the football without Berger.
That’s potentially great news for Minnesota’s defense. The Golden Gophers have not been great on defense this season, allowing 31.8 PPG and 431.0 YPG. Their front seven has been particularly dreadful, conceding an FBS worst 6.6 YPC and 212.0 YPG.
Minnesota’s offense took a big hit when Rashod Bateman opted out a few weeks ago to focus on the NFL Draft. Bateman was one of the best receivers in the Big Ten with 36 receptions for 472 yards and two touchdowns. In his stead, Tanner Morgan has leaned on Chris Autman-Bell even more, and CAB has delivered with a 20.9 YPR average. No other Minnesota player has more than eight receptions or 100 receiving yards though.
Morgan has taken a big step back this season, so the Golden Gophers have asked a lot from Mohamed Ibrahim. Ibrahim has probably been used too much with a whopping 175 carries in five games, but Fleck has lightened the workload recently. Still, he has 925 yards (5.3 YPC) and 15 touchdowns, making him a shoo-in for all-conference honors.
Wisconsin is fourth in defensive SP+, so it won’t be easy to move the ball on the Badgers. They are allowing 15.4 PPG and 254.4 YPG, and this secondary has been one of the best in the conference. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 51.4 percent of their passes against Wisconsin.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Weekly Recap
Although the Golden Gophers were missing over 30 players due to COVID-19 or injuries, they managed to upset Nebraska 24-17 as a double-digit underdog last week. Minnesota took a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and the defense stood tall for one of the few times all year. The Cornhuskers finished the day with just 308 total yards with two turnovers.
Ibrahim carried the ball 20 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, while Morgan found Autman-Bell five times for 82 yards on the day.
2020 Minnesota Golden Gophers Schedule
||L 44-45 (OT)
NCAA Football Teams
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