Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-8 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. No. 14 Michigan State
Spartans (8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS), Week 10 NCAA Football, 12:00 p.m. EST,
Saturday, November 6, 2010, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich., TV:
Big Ten Network
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Min +24/MSU -24
Over/Under Total: 57
The 14th-ranked Michigan State Spartans will try and get momentum back in the right direction on Saturday when the host the last-place Minnesota Gophers in a Big Ten Conference matchup at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State suffered their first loss of the season with a dud of a performance at Iowa last weekend, losing in lopsided fashion, 37-6. Nothing went right for the Spartans at Iowa as reliable quarterback Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, the power running attack only mustered 31 yards rushing, and the defense gave up too many big plays and fell behind 30-0 before halftime in a crushing defeat.
Most importantly, the crucial loss dropped Sparty from No. 5 all the way down to No. 14 in the BCS standings, so now they will need other teams to stumble in order to get back into the BCS bowl game hunt.
The good news for Michigan State is that the Gophers are coming to town, just the elixir the Spartans need to get back on the winning track. Minnesota continued their season-long sleepwalk session with another snoozer, losing 52-10 at home to Ohio State. The Gophers struggled on offense (232 total yards), gave the ball away (two fumbles, one interception) and couldn’t stop the Buckeyes offense at all (gave up 507 total yards) with the Big Ten’s worst defense and it all added up to another mammoth loss by 42 points.
It may get worse yet, since now the Gophers have to go on the road and face a determined Spartan team eager to reclaim their spot among the top of the Big Ten and slip back into the BCS picture too.
The oddsmakers out in Las Vegas are predicting a Spartan stomp on Saturday, opening the game with Michigan State as large 24-point favorites at home. The point spread has only gone up the hook to 24.5 at a few of the online sportsbooks, with the rest of them yet to move the number at all.
The over/under total is up on the board at a few bookies, with it starting at 57 at the few that are taking wagers on the total already.
Offensively the Spartans will try and get back to their power running game that had carried them for the first eight weeks of the season. Running backs Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker were held to 1.6 yards per carry against the Hawkeyes last week, and with the running game going nowhere the pressure on Cousins to win the game passing was too much for him to handle.
On paper it looks like they should be able to turn things around and get back to their 175.4 yards per game average, especially since the Minnesota defense allows over 200 yards per game on the ground (201.8 ypg – 107th). The Gophers defense also allows an almost unfathomable 34.1 points per game, so the Spartans offense should benefit and rebound from last week’s disappointing finish.
Minnesota’s offense is sort of an enigma because they certainly have talent along the perimeter. Quarterback Adam Weber is a potential pro prospect and has had a good year (2,123 yds., 17 TD, 8 INT) throwing to Da’Jon McKnight (578 yds., 9 TD). But when you’re constantly behind and forced to throw the ball to catch up, and forced to play catch up to the tune of 34.1 points per game allowed, there really are not too many offenses in the country that can overcome those obstacles.
The good news for fans of the Gophers is that they seem to have the Spartans number of late.
Minnesota won last year’s game in a shootout at home in TFC Bank Stadium, 42-34, to notch their third straight victory in the head-to- head series and their sixth win in the last eight meetings. The win (as 3.5-point underdogs at home) also gave them their third straight cover and seventh in their last nine tries.
Minnesota also plays well on the road, going 4-1 ATS in their last five visits to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
The underdog in this series is a strong 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings, the Gophers are 7-2 ATS in those games, so that explains the way the Gophers have played against the Spartans over the years.
The over wager also has some very strong betting trends to consider. The over is 12-3 in Minnesota’s last 15 Big Ten games (4-1 this season). The over is also 7-2 in Michigan State’s last nine games against an opponent with a losing record and it’s also 5-2 in their last seven game played in Spartan Stadium.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I usually don’t like to lay 24 points in any game, yet alone a Big Ten Conference game, but the way the Gophers are playing combined with the fact this is a bounce-back game for the Spartans makes me strongly consider it. I’m taking Michigan State minus the 24-points.
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