The Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-1) will head to Ryan Field to face the Northwestern Wildcats (2-8) Saturday.
The Gophers are coming off their first and only loss of the season, a 23-19 defeat at the hands of Iowa. The Wildcats ended their seven-game losing streak last week, beating Massachusetts, 45-6. So how is this one shaping up? Here’s a breakdown of the game, followed by trends and our prediction.
Head coach P.J. Fleck and Company could be without their starting quarterback against the Wildcats. Tanner Morgan is in the concussion protocol and the Gophers will likely be looking to either Jacob Clark or Cole Kramer, both of whom are true freshman, and Fleck said this week that the competition between the two is still open:
“Whoever plays better in practice this week, if it comes down to it. It’s a competition between Jacob and Cole, and they’re both getting better. They’re both working really hard, they’ve both made a ton of progress.”
The Gophers are in first place in the Big 10 West, and they’ll likely be looking to rebound after last week’s disappointing loss. On defense, Minnesota is giving up 20.9 points a game, which is 28th overall in the nation, and they’re allowing 307.8 total yards per contest, which is 15th in the country. They may need to rely more heavily on their defense in this one if Morgan is out.
Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald has seen his team go from winning the Big 10 West last year to failing to win a game in the conference this year. Fitzgerald will have to lead the Wildcats without starting quarterback Aiden Smith, who is doubtful to play. Andrew Marty is on schedule for his first career start under center, and he will be the third quarterback to start this season for Northwestern, who has been saddled with injuries at the position.
Northwestern is bad this year, but their defense has been stout at times, all things considered. They’re giving up 23.5 points a contest, and they should keep the game from turning into a blowout at home–especially if they play against a backup quarterback.
Trends, Pick and Prediction
Spread: Northwestern +13.5
Odds Shark currently have the Golden Gophers projected to win by a score of 38-10, with Minnesota winning, covering the spread and the total score going over.
The following relevant trends surrounding the game are courtesy of Odds Shark:
• The Golden Gophers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games.
• The total has gone OVER in 6 of Minnesota’s last 9 games.
• Minnesota is 11-1 SU in their last 12 games.
• Minnesota is 4-8 SU in their last 12 games against Northwestern.
• Northwestern is 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
• The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Northwestern’s last 7 games.
• Northwestern is 1-7 SU in their last 8 games.
• The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Northwestern’s last 8 games against Minnesota.
The Gophers are averaging just under 36 points a game, and even if their starting quarterback doesn’t play, they should handle their business here. Look for the Gophers to win and cover the spread, with the total just going over.
Final Prediction: Minnesota 27, Northwestern 13