Featured Video from Scott Reichel
When : November 23, 2019, 12:00 PM ET
Where : Ryan Field
Saturday afternoon features an exciting Big Ten Conference match between the nationally-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Northwestern Wildcats. These two teams boast very similar defenses, both suffocating opposing teams. Their offenses, however, have been polar opposites. Minnesota boasts an exciting, high-powered offense which Northwestern has struggled to move the ball and relies solely on their defense. Last season the Wildcats upset the Golden Gophers on the road in Minnesota 24-14 and also won the previous contest before last year's as well. Minnesota boasts a 53-36-2 record all-time against Northwestern. The Golden Gophers opened as ten point favorites and the total opened at 38 and a half. This game will be view-able nationally on the ABC Network.
Golden Gophers Go DownMinnesota got their first taste of defeat as they dropped a tough road contest against Iowa 23-19. Missed opportunities cost the Golden Gophers their chance for an undefeated season, as they outperformed the Hawkeyes on offense with 431 total yards compared to only 290 from Iowa. Kicker Brock Walker missed a field goal as well as an extra point which, although he doesn't deserve all of the blame, was the difference-maker on the scoreboard. Quarterback Tanner Morgan went down late in the game after back-to-back sacks and is still in team concussion protocols, listed as a game-time decision. Either Jacob Clark or Cole Kramer, both true freshmen, will get the call if Morgan can't be cleared.
"Those young guys have been getting all those reps as true freshmen... I'm really proud of the progress they're making." Coach Fleck, on the work that Cole Kramer and Jacob Clark have put in this season.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 19, 2019
Tanner Morgan is the heart and soul of this offense with 2,468 yards with 22 touchdowns to only four picks. If he is unavailable, it may be a long day for the Golden Gopher offense. Rodney Smith leads the rushing attack with 186 carries for 986 yards and eight touchdowns. He looks to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark Saturday. Minnesota's defense is headed by safety Antoine Winfield Jr. with 62 tackles, seven interceptions and two sacks. The team averages 35.7 points per game while holding opponents to 20.9 points per contest.
Somber Season For WildcatsThis Northwestern team hasn't had a flashy campaign by any means, with only two wins on the year. The good news is the team seems to have been playing better as of late. They followed a two-point loss to Purdue with a win over UMass 45-6. The quarterback position has been a huge set-back for the Wildcats. Aidan Smith only completed seven of his 13 passes for 76 yards with two interceptions against the worst pass defense in the country in the Minutemen's. "We can't have the quarterback play the way it is now and expect to win games consistently," said coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Smith has been less than spectacular since taking over the starting job. He only completes 50.3% of his passes with only three touchdowns to nine interceptions. Drake Anderson leads the rushing attack with 120 carries for 513 yards and three touchdowns, but may lose time to Evan Hull who ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns after Anderson was pulled last game. Linebacker Blake Gallagher heads the defensive unit with 80 tackles and two picks. Northwestern's offense only averages 14.5 points per game but their defense has been good, holding teams to only 23.5 points per game.
Trends for this game provided by oddsshark.com
- Minnesota is 6-1 ATS their last 7 games overall
- Northwestern is 0-4-1 ATS their last 5 games overall
- Northwestern is 2-8 ATS their last 10 home games versus Minnesota
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I believe that the Golden Gophers can get the job done Saturday afternoon and cover this two-touchdown spread. Northwestern's offense isn't going to give anyone a hard time, as they have been downright awful. Minnesota may be without their starting quarterback as he goes through concussion protocols, listed as a game-time decision, but they still boast a very potent rushing attack that is capable of carrying the load. The Wildcats have yet to cover a spread at home in five attempts thus far, and I don't believe that will change here. The Golden Gophers will be extra excited for this "tune-up contest" after tasting defeat for their first time. I have been fading Northwestern all year, and I will continue that here. Minnesota's defense is one of the toughest in the country, and I trust them to carry the team regardless of whether Tanner Morgan plays or not.
Prediction: Minnesota -13.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This total is set low, but rightfully so. Both of these schools boast very good defenses. Minnesota's starting quarterback is listed as a game-time decision while under concussion protocols, and given how team's have handled these types of protocols lately in the past, I would almost guarantee he sits this game out. Also, seven of the past ten meetings between these schools have played to the under. Seven of Northwestern's ten games have played to the under as well. This game has all of the makings to be a hard fought, won-in-the-trenches type of battle. I will ride the trends in this match-up and back the under in this showdown Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Under 39.5