Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Gophers Week 13 Pick ATS

by | Nov 24, 2021 | cfb

Wisconsin Badgers (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Minnesota Gophers (7-4 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)

NCAA Week 13

When: Saturday, Nov. 27 at 4 pm ET

Where: Huntington Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, MN

TV: FOX

Point Spread: WIS -6.5/MINN +6.5 (GTBets - Offers Predictem readers a 100% bonus up to $500 on your first deposit!)

Over/Under Total: 38.5

The Ohio State-Michigan game is the main course on the Big Ten menu this weekend, but there is also a nice dessert to be served up in Minneapolis as Wisconsin looks to win the West against Minnesota. It is rivalry week in the Big Ten, and the UW-Minn series has the distinction of being the most-played rivalry in the NCAA, with Saturday marking the 131st meeting between the schools. Wisconsin has won 17-of-18 since the 2004 season and has won each of the last eight contests at Minnesota. Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on the line, but Wisconsin is likely more interested in making their seventh trip to Indianapolis in the eleven-year history of the Big Ten Championship game.

Trend Watch

Wisconsin failed to cover last week against Nebraska but still maintain a 5-1 ATS mark in their last six conference games. The Badgers have a nice long-term trend with 20 ATS wins in their previous 29 road games but are just 3-7 against the spread in the last ten against teams with a winning record. Minnesota has won eight of the previous eleven against the spread when playing inside the Big Ten, and the dog has won 9-of-14 in this series. The OVER is seeing success as Wisconsin’s offense improves, hitting in four of the last five games overall, and the OVER has paid six of the previous seven times Minnesota is a home underdog. The OVER is 16-5 over the last 21 meetings, including 7-3 in the last ten in Minneapolis.

On a Roll

Wisconsin looked lost after a 1-3 start, and simply making a bowl game was going to be a difficult task, but they have won seven straight with a potential New Year’s Six game over the horizon. The defense has done most of the heavy lifting over the win streak, but the offense came to play last week and scored 35 to beat Nebraska behind Braelon Allen’s 228 rushing yards and three scores. Allen reclassified to graduate early and won’t turn 18 until January, but that has not stopped the freshman from racking up 1,062 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the team in both categories. The Wisconsin passing game is just 118th, but Graham Mertz has improved his decision-making and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in four straight games. Tight end Jake Ferguson leads the receiver group with 39 receptions as Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis have taken turns in making big plays over the last handful of weeks. The defense fell to #2 in total yards allowed but still leads the NCAA in rushing yards allowed and is giving up 15.8 points per game. Wisconsin allows just 25.9% conversions on third down and ranks fifth in total QBR allowed. Nebraska was able to pass successfully against Wisconsin, but that is not a strength for the Minnesota offense as they rank 117th in passing offense.

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Rowing Nowhere?

P.J. Fleck is one of the most uniquely likable coaches in all of NCAA Football, but Minnesota has struggled to elevate itself inside the Big Ten with a 20-22 overall conference record. The Gophers had a clear path to Indy, but losses to Illinois and Iowa dashed any title game hopes, and while a bowl game is ahead, this is the biggest game of the season. Tanner Morgan’s play has been a good predictor of Minnesota’s overall success, and they have won five of six games where the senior QB has thrown for at least one touchdown pass. The ground game is the strength, and the Gophers are averaging 205 rushing yards per game despite several injuries in the backfield. Ky Thomas leads the team with 625 rushing yards, and he has hit the 100-yard mark in four of the last five games. Thomas will see the majority of the carries on Saturday but faces a Wisconsin defense that is allowing an NCAA-best 2.2 yards per carry. Chris Autman-Bell is the standout playmaker among the receivers and leads the team in receptions (33) yards (453) and touchdowns (5). Boye Mafe leads the team with six sacks, and the defensive front has allowed the 13th fewest rushing yards. The secondary has held up its end as well by allowing just 185 passing yards per game, and the Gophers rank 4th in total yards allowed to enter the week.

The Axe Stays in Madison and Wisconsin Covers

Minnesota has had a successful season by many measures, but their preseason goal to win the West was largely based on a relatively soft schedule, and they haven’t been able to capitalize on that fully. The Gophers have really only looked good against the likes of Indiana and Northwestern while having a much tougher time against teams like Purdue and Nebraska. In short, Minnesota has only won when they are the better team on paper, and they aren’t that this weekend. Wisconsin had one of its worst defensive efforts of the season last week and still won, so I think their margin for error is much larger than Minnesota’s. No one is stopping Braelon Allen at the moment, and the play-action game is working for the Badgers as a result. I think the respective QBs effectively cancel each other out, but the remaining playmakers on both sides of the ball provide a net-positive for Wisconsin. The 2019 game in Minneapolis was a back-and-forth contest before Wisconsin pulled away in the second half, and I’m predicting a similar scenario as the Badgers dominate the second half and secure a 29-17 win.

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