Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Date and Time: Saturday, November 25, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Opening College Football Odds: Wisconsin -16
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota TV Coverage: ABC
The Badgers could potentially need to score some style points to get into the College Football Playoff. They're going to be the No. 5 team in America when the new CFP rankings come out on Tuesday night, and though they'll theoretically surpass the Miami/Clemson loser of the ACC Championship Game, there are a slew of possibilities that could play out.
The Badgers could ultimately get hopped by the SEC champion and still left behind Alabama. Plus, there's no guarantee Miami or Clemson will absolutely finish behind Wisconsin. Or USC could win the Pac-12 and hop over Wisconsin, too. Though you'd like to think that 13-0 would be good enough to put any Power Five team into the CFP, nothing is guaranteed this year.
Minnesota is sitting on five wins with one game left to play, and its life in a bowl game comes down to this game on Saturday. The Golden Gophers have dropped three of their last four and six of their last eight after starting at 3-0, and this is their last shot to have success.
There have been times that P.J. Fleck's team has been excellent this season. In a 54-21 win over Nebraska, all three of Kobe McCrary, Demry Croft and Rodney Smith had awesome days on the ground. The three combined for six rushing scores and 409 yards, and that doesn't include Smith's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that started the game.
However, the raw stats for Minnesota are far from special. The team is playing well defensively, allowing 336.7 yards per game. That said, the offense is again suspect at best, ranking No. 121 in yardage and No. 96 in scoring.
Betting Trends of Note
Considering the fact that this is a huge rivalry game, you might benefit from the thought that the Gophers can at least cover this game at all of the top online sportsbooks. That said, Minnesota hasn't claimed Paul Bunyan's Axe in 13 seasons, and it largely hasn't come all that close either.
Granted, Minnesota has stuck within 16 in four straight seasons in this series, but none of those games were decided by single-digits. At least theoretically, this is the best Wisconsin team we've seen in years, though, and the Golden Gophers have reached a bowl game in most of those seasons.
Minnesota has played three games this year in which it was a dog of at least seven points. In those games, it lost 17-10 to Iowa, was blown out 33-10 to Michigan and destroyed 39-0 last week by Northwestern.
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Free Picks
Throwing the ball isn't exactly Croft's strength. When he can run all over the field, he's fine at what he does, but we're also talking about a man who went just 2-for-11 last week with three interceptions. Croft is only completing 42.5 percent of his passes, and he isn't going to magically start to evolve a strong passing arm overnight in time for this game.
The Badgers have managed to play sound defense against every type of unit they've faced this year. This isn't going to be anything new to go against a team that has a mobile quarterback and is going to try to keep the ball in the hands of running backs as much as possible; ask Michigan how well that worked last week when Big Blue came into Camp Randall and rushed the ball 37 times for 58 yards.
If the Badgers are going to play like that in this game, this won't be close. Once things start to get out of hand for Minnesota, we see an avalanche opening up.
College Football ATS Pick: Wisconsin -16 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 10