Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-4 SU, 2-3ATS) vs. No. 20 Wisconsin
Badgers (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS), Week 6 NCAA Football, 12:00 p.m. EST,
Saturday, October 9, 2010, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis., TV:
Big Ten Network
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Betting Odds: University of Minnesota +22/UW -22
Over/Under Total: 57
The oldest rivalry in college football will write another chapter
Saturday in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, when the 20th-ranked
Wisconsin Badgers host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in their annual
battle for Paul Bunyans Axe.
The Badgers dropped nine spots in the AP Top 25 poll after last
weeks loss at Michigan State, 34-24, thanks to a porous defense that
allowed the Spartans 444 yards of total offense. Now the Badgers are
in need of a bounce-back game at home against a big rival, with the
hopes of continuing their recent dominance of the series and the axe
by going for their seventh straight win over the Gophers.
Minnesota on the other hand has nowhere to go but up, and a huge
victory on the road in the battle for the axe would help Gophers fans
and alums off of coach Tim Brewsters back for his teams second
consecutive season with a 1-4 start.
After holding a rare halftime lead against Northwestern last week
(21-14), the Gophers gave up the lead late in the fourth quarter and
then watched as their rally ended on an Adam Weber interception on
4th-and-11 with just 17 seconds on the clock. But the Gophers defense
also had its problems stopping Northwestern (486 yards allowed), so
this Big Ten Conference matchup with Wisconsin could get real ugly
before its all over.
Oddsmakers dont seem to believe the Gopher stand a chance, listing
the opening point spread with Wisconsin as rather large 21-point
favorites at home in Camp Randall. With most of the early action on
Wisconsin, the number has already moved up quickly to 21.5- and 22-
points at most of the online sportsbooks.
The over/under total is only currently listed at a few sportsbooks
(Pinnacle, 5Dimes), with an opening number of 57.
Offensively the Badgers must get better production on third down from
quarterback Scott Tolzien and company because their failure to
convert on 3rd down (3-for-11) last week cost them dearly in a stat
they usually own, time of possession, as the Spartans held the ball
for nearly a full quarter more on offense (36 min.-to-23 min.).
Part of the reason the Badgers had such a hard time converting to
move the chains was the lingering ankle issues of starting running
back John Clay. Clay, who had ankle surgeries in the offseason, was
held to 80 yards by Michigan State. But Minnesota will have to game-
plan for freshman James White, who came in for Clay and ran for 98
yards and two scores on just 10 carries.
Wisconsin will try and get its offense going again against a
Minnesota defense thats allowed over 400 yards per game all season
long (406.8 ypg 92nd). I mentioned before that this game could get
ugly, well it could get especially ugly for Gopher fans if their
defense continues to allow 185 yards per game on the ground. As the
Spartans proved last week, if you can stop the Badgers running game
and make Tolzien beat you, you stand a better chance at upsetting the
Minnesota will need to try and duplicate the versatile attack the Spartans used against the Badgers defense, and with talent like
senior quarterback Adam Weber (1,199 yards 9 TD) and Duane Bennett
and DeLeon Eskridge the Gophers have the horses to do it. The Gophers
also struggle on third downs from time to time (3-of-11 vs.
Northwestern), and Weber has not been nearly as accurate (62.3 comp.
%) or efficient (4 INT) as you would expect from a senior signal caller.
But with a 26.8 points per game average, scoring points on offense
hasnt been the problem with the Gophers. It been their average of
30.6 points allowed per game that has them at 1-4 this season again.
Wisconsins defense showed some cracks and how thin they are at
linebacker last week against the Spartans. Without their best pass
rusher playing (Chris Borland is out for the season) the Badgers
couldnt get much pressure on Michigan State Kirk Cousins, and the
result was a solid 268-yard 2-touchdown performance from Cousins
against them despite a few early interceptions.
If Weber can get a rhythm going early, he could play the biggest role
of spoiler for the Gophers in this game. Last year he threw for 271
yards and a score against the Badgers, so hes had some success
versus them in the past.
The problem for Minnesota was that their defense could not stop the
Badger running game last year, as they racked up 295 yards on the
ground with a 6.0 yard per carry average in what turned into a 31-28
victory for Wisconsin on the road at TFC Bank Stadium.
As mentioned, the win was the sixth in a row for the Badgers in the
series straight up (and 8-2 L10). The Badgers have done nearly as
well for bettors in the series as well, going 7-3 ATS in the last 10
overall but just 1-2 ATS in the last three years. Both times the
Gophers covered were as large underdogs (13.5-points in both games) too.
The strongest betting trend in this game is the over wager. The over
is 10-1 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings and its also a perfect
5-0 in the last five at Camp Randall.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know Minnesota is bad this year, but this is a
perfect spot for the Gophers to save Brewsters job (or prevent him
from losing it before the seasons over). Plus, this is a rivalry game
that hasnt produced a blowout win for either team since 2006. The
Badgers are due for a big game, but I still think theyre way
overrated. Im taking Minnesota plus the 22-points in this game.