Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#143 Nebraska vs.
#144 Minnesota
Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Chris King

A pair of teams from the West Division of the Big Ten do battle in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on the gridiron. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are on the road as they make the trip to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday afternoon. Nebraska comes in off a 32-29 home loss to #9 Michigan, failing to cover as a 2.5-point underdog, in their most recent contest last Saturday. Minnesota edged Purdue 20-13 on the road as a 1.5-point underdog in their most recent game on October 2: they were off last week. In the all-time series between the teams, the Golden Gophers own a 34-25-2 advantage and have won the last two meetings. That includes a 24-17 road win as a nine-point underdog in the last matchup on December 12, 2020.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Looking for Road Victory

Nebraska was unable to build off their win over Northwestern as they went to the wire against #9 Michigan only to fall short at home. The Cornhuskers fell to 3-4 overall and stand 1-3 in the Big Ten West Division, with their last two conference defeats coming to teams from the Great Lakes State. Against Michigan, Nebraska was down 13-0 at the half and 19-7 with under four minutes to play in the third quarter before rallying to lead 22-19 after three quarters. The Cornhuskers led 29-26 with 7:08 to go but couldn’t stop the Wolverines, who kicked a pair of field goals in the final three minutes to wind up on the short end of the scoreboard. Nebraska was outgained 459-431 in total offense, lost the first down battle 26-19 and the time of possession by a 34:24 to 25:36 margin. The Cornhuskers committed a pair of turnovers while forcing one takeaway: one turnover set up the winning points with 1:24 to play.

On the season, the Cornhuskers are 37th in the nation in passing offense with 270 yards per game while they are 18th in the nation with 223.6 yards per contest when it comes to rushing offense. Nebraska is 47th in the FBS in scoring offense with 31.9 points per game while they are 22nd in scoring defense by holding opposing teams to 17.9 points per contest. Adrian Martinez continues to be a force as a dual-threat quarterback. He has completed 118 of 178 passes for 1,754 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Martinez also leads the team on the ground with 88 carries for 450 yards and 10 scores. Logan Smothers is seven of 11 for 119 yards while adding 69 yards on the ground while Matt Masker is three of three for 17 yards. Rahmir Johnson (72 carries, 298 yards, two TD), Jaquez Yant (22 carries, 166 yards), Markese Stepp (36 carries, 159 yards, TD), Gabe Ervin Jr. (31 carries, 107 yards, two TD) and Sevion Morrison (26 carries, 97 yards, three TD) are all sharing the load in the ground game. Samori Toure leads the team with 26 receptions for 520 yards plus three scores. Austin Allen (19 grabs, 222 yards, TD), Oliver Martin (nine catches, 147 yards, TD) and Omar Manning (14 receptions, 196 yards, TD), Zavier Betts (13 receptions, 187 yards) and Johnson (12 catches, 169 yards, TD) all have at least 125 yards receiving this season. Connor Culp has struggled in the kicking game, hitting 26 of 29 extra point attempts and five of 10 field goal attempts with a long of 51 this season.

Minnesota Golden Gophers Try to Prevail at Home

Minnesota came up with the road win over Purdue last week in their previous game. The Golden Gophers improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten: they look to shake off a homecoming loss to Bowling Green in their previous home contest. Against Purdue, Minnesota led 7-3 after one quarter and trailed 13-10 at the half before taking the lead with a three-play, 75-yard drive on the opening drive of the third quarter. That gave the Golden Gophers a 17-13 lead and they led the rest of the way. Minnesota was outgained 448-294 in total offense, gave up 28 first downs while picking up 12 and lost the time of possession 33:22 to 26:38 in the contest. The Golden Gophers forced a pair of turnovers while not committing any in the contest.

On the year, the Golden Gophers are 124th in the nation in passing offense with 141.8 yards per game while they are 38th in rushing offense as they grind out 192.4 yards per contest. Minnesota stands 95th in the FBS in scoring offense with 24.4 points per contest and 28th in scoring defense by allowing an average of 19.6 points per game. Tanner Morgan has completed 47 of 90 passes for 709 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He has 21 rushing yards on the ground this season. Trey Potts leads the team in rushing with 112 carries for 552 yards and six scores but is done for the season after sustaining an injury against Purdue that required hospitalization. Mohamed Ibrahim (30 carries, 163 yards, two TD) remains out as well, so Mar’Keise Irving (25 carries, 112 yards) will have to step up and contribute on the ground. Daniel Jackson leads the team with 14 receptions for 155 yards plus a score on the year. Dylan Wright (nine catches, 169 yards, two TD), Mike Brown-Stephens (four catches, 139 yards) and Chris Autman-Bell (seven grabs, 128 yards, TD) are over the century mark in receiving yards. Matthew Trickett has hit 14 of 15 extra point attempts and six of nine field goal attempts with a long of 50 on the year.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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We’re looking at a couple of stiff defenses in this contest so offense could come at a premium. Nebraska has scored 223 points in seven games but 108 of those came in wins over Fordham and Northwestern. The Cornhuskers have totaled 87 points in their four losses, though all have come by eight points or less. With that said, Nebraska has to contend with a Minnesota defense that has forced nine turnovers in five games. The Golden Gophers hold the opposition to 77 yards a game and 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. That’s Nebraska’s bread and butter offensively: Martinez isn’t as effective if the run game is sputtering. This is going to be a close game: with home field advantage, take the points and the Golden Gophers in this contest.

Prediction: Minnesota Golden Gophers +3.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Both teams are inconsistent when it comes to generating offense this season. Nebraska rolls up plenty of yards but they don’t always turn those into points. For the season, the Cornhuskers have seen the over go 3-3-1 in their seven games this season. The Cornhuskers have seen the under go 9-1-1 in their last 11 on the road. Minnesota has struggled offensively the last couple of weeks. After scoring 31, 31 and 30 points in their first three games, the Golden Gophers have totaled 30 points in their last two contests. Minnesota has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four after allowing less than 20 points, 4-0 in their last four after an ATS win and 5-0 in their last five after a straight up win. Look for this one to end up falling short of the total.

Prediction: Under 48

Written By Chris King , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.