It’s been a down year for P.J. Fleck’s team heading into the Minnesota at Nebraska pick as the Big Ten season winds down. At 2-3 the Golden Gophers have definitely disappointed, but is the team bad enough to be a +10.5 underdog when visiting 2-4 Nebraska on Saturday?
The Cornhuskers did look good last week in a 37-27 win at Purdue as +1 point road underdogs. One of the big reasons oddsmakers are favoring Nebraska (despite playing at home) is because Minnesota has been idle since November 20th due to COVID cancellations. The rusty vs. rested narrative comes into play in this matchup for Minnesota.
Golden Gophers Back in Action
It’s been a rough year to try and build momentum, and Minnesota gets back on the playing field Saturday after games against Wisconsin and Northwestern were cancelled due to positive COVID tests. We don’t know a lot about what we have in this Golden Gophers squad, but they did beat Purdue 34-31 at home as +2.5 home underdogs.
What Fleck’s squad should be able to do in the Minnesota at Nebraska pick (12 PM ET, FS1) is run the ball. Mo Ibrahim has been great when the Golden Gophers do get to play, going for over 100 yards in all five Minnesota tilts this season. Ibrahim had 3 TDs vs. Purdue, and has ran for 4 scores against both Illinois and Maryland this year. Nebraska is 9th in the Big Ten in run defense.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons the line is up to +10.5 is because star receiver Rashod Bateman has opted out the rest of the year for Minnesota. He had put up 139 yards receiving vs. Illinois and 111 in a loss to Iowa, and defenses focusing on him led Chris Autman-Bell to have 129 yards receiving last time out vs. the Boilermakers. That’s a huge loss for the Golden Gophers passing attack.
Nebraska Largely an Unknown
Even as the Big 10 regular season comes to a close on Saturday, we still don’t know a lot about just what this Nebraska team was this year. The Cornhuskers are definitely playing with momentum after playing tough with Iowa in a 26-20 loss the day after Thanksgiving and beating Purdue 37-27 last week on the road. This is also a team that lost 41-23 at home to Illinois in week 12 as -17 favorites however.
One of the bright sides for Scott Frost’s team heading into the meeting with Minnesota is that they seem to have settled on Adrian Martinez at QB. He was 23/30 for 242 yards against Iowa’s #4 ranked passing defense in the Big Ten last week, finally getting a bulk of the snaps after splitting with Luke McCaffrey for a time. Overall Minnesota’s defense is the worst in the Big Ten.
Free Minnesota at Nebraska Pick
This line seems way off in that Nebraska should not be giving that many points, not because Minnesota is that bad but because the Cornhuskers aren’t that good. 63% of the public agrees in liking the Golden Gophers and the points, which is also a red flag considering the line has moved the opposite direction after a +9 open.
Minnesota seems like a no-brainer play, which would actually make Nebraska the pick but thus leading away from a wager on the side. The betting total in this one is sky high at 60.5, but the weather is just 29 degrees in Lincoln, and Minnesota comes in missing their most explosive playmaker in Bateman. Gotta play the ‘under’ here.
Nebraska 31 – Minnesota 21
Free Pick: Under 60.5