Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers – College Football, October 24, 2020
It’s the only Big Ten opening matchup featuring two ranked teams.
The Wolverines are on their way to Minneapolis to try and pin down the Golden Gophers in what represents the first of eight conference games for each school. Now that one of the top betting sites has officially released the odds, let’s take a look at a Michigan vs. Minnesota prediction.
Michigan vs. Minnesota Odds
- Michigan (+2) -110
- Minnesota (-2) -110
In a matchup of No. 19 vs. No. 24, so it’s no surprise the spread is so narrow. Playing this game at TCF Bank Stadium is certainly a boost for the Golden Gophers, but this contest is virtually a toss-up.
As for some against the spread (ATS) number:
Michigan covered the spread 53.8% of the time in 2019, including a 3-2 ATS record in games as a visitor. Minnesota was even more trustworthy, posting a pleasant 8-4-1 ATS mark. Twice the Golden Gophers were a home underdog, once beating Penn State outright, the other time getting bludgeoned by Wisconsin.
Previewing the Wolverines
The Wolverines lost at Wisconsin and at Penn State, ranked 13th and 7th at the time, respectively. Their other two setbacks came at the end of the year versus Ohio State and Alabama.
Four losses on paper make it sound like it was a disastrous year in Ann Arbor, but the fact of the matter is Michigan was a substantial underdog in each of those instances. Perhaps the talent in the “Big House” simply isn’t sufficient when it comes to the upper echelon of the Big Ten.
On the heels of Dylan McCaffrey opting out of the season, RS sophomore Joe Milton is set to take the reins under center. Here’s a 6’5” 243-pound dual-threat gunslinger with a live arm and some serious wheels.
When #Michigan QB Joe Milton steps on the field this season, he will have a whole new understanding of the team’s playbook.— Eric Rutter (@EricRutterWD) October 7, 2020
Oh, and he apparently runs a 4.62 40-yard dash right now. That combo could be lethal this fall. https://t.co/f4MHK1s1FS
As far as Milton’s supporting cast, Michigan is set to employ a four-headed backfield and has plenty of capable pass-catchers on the outside. The defense must replace their three leading tacklers and their top pass rusher, but there are plenty of candidates waiting in the wings.
One of those defenders primed to step up is junior LB Cameron McGrone.
Previewing the Golden Gophers
The Golden Gophers are coming off an 11-win season, capped by a victory over Auburn in a New Year’s Day Bowl Game. Led by rising junior Tanner Morgan at QB, Minnesota is out to prove that their success in 2019 was anything but a fluke.
An offense that lost WR Tyler Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was set to take a major hit when top-10 prospect Rashod Bateman opted-out. However, a change of heart from arguably the top WR in the nation is a massive break for P.J. Fleck.
With the offense in terrific hands, Coach Fleck’s defense is undoubtedly the team’s biggest question mark. Seven of 11 starters are gone – including six members of the Golden Gophers front seven. New faces will assume larger roles in the heart of the UM defense, although Mariano Sori-Marin has breakout potential.
It may take some time to evolve, but Joe Rossi’s unit will be just fine.
Michigan vs. Minnesota Pick
My Michigan vs. Minnesota prediction is that the Golden Gophers cover the 2-point spread. Not only do they have an edge playing this game at home, but Minnesota has a major advantage in the sense that they are returning a big-time quarterback.
Tanner Morgan threw 30 touchdowns (compared to just 7 interceptions) as a full-time starter in the Twin Cities last season. Joe Milton has 11 career pass attempts – two of which resulted in picks.
The Wolverines may pick up steam at some point in the year, but it’s unlikely it happens at the outset.