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Northwestern comes into the week ranked at No. 22 in the AP Top-25 Polls after clinching a spot in the Big Ten Championship last week. Meanwhile, Minnesota is fresh off of its best game of the season after stunning Purdue at home to improve to 5-5 on the season.
Northwestern headed to Big Ten Championship Game
Northwestern won its third game against a ranked opponent this year, defeating the No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes 14-10 in a gritty defensive battle. Isaiah Bowser ran for 165 yards and a touchdown, while the Wildcats defense limited Iowa to just 64 rush yards and forced two fumbles to help Northwestern secure its first-ever Big Ten division title. Clayton Thorson finished 15 of 30 passing for 122 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on the day, but his lone touchdown was a near-perfect 33-yard pass to Skowronek, who made a beautiful diving catch to secure the go-ahead score and propel Northwestern to the Big Ten championship game. The victory, along with Northwestern’s 7-1 conference record, also put the Wildcats on the national radar, as they enter the week ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll for the first time all season. Northwestern has won 13 of its past 14 conference games with 10 straight wins against West Division opponents. They’ve also won seven straight road games and three straight games against Iowa during that span.
— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) November 11, 2018
The Wildcats come into the week scoring 23.6 points per game, while allowing 23.0 points per game on the defensive side of the ball. Despite their 6-1 conference record, the Wildcats have actually been outgained 373 to 352.5 in terms of yards per game this year. Part of their struggles on offense has to do with the lackluster play of senior quarterback Clayton Thorson, who is having arguably his worst year since his freshman season in 2015. Thorson has thrown as many touchdowns (12) as he has interceptions (12) so far this season.
Gophers put together dominant defensive performance after firing coordinator
Minnesota got back on the winning track last week, dismantling Purdue 41-10 in a dominant defensive performance. The Golden Gophers’ maligned defense held the Boilermakers to season-lows in yards and points, while holding Purdue to 0-for-12 on third down conversions and adding a fumble return for a touchdown on the day. Redshirt freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 156 yards, while Seth Green added a passing and rushing touchdown to help Minnesota win its first game under interim defensive coordinator Joe Rossi. The Gophers came into the game against Purdue allowing 43.2 points and 507.7 yards per game during the Big Ten season, but limited Purdue to just 10 points and 233 yards of total offense in the win.
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 14, 2018
Minnesota enters the week scoring 29.1 points per game this season and averaging 391 yards of total offense per game. On defense, Golden Gophers are allowing 29.6 points and 405 yards of total offense per contest.The Golden Gophers are still without freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad, who suffered an internal midsection injury late in the first half against Nebraska and was eventually hospitalized for evaluation. Instead, they’ve turned to redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan, who has shown flashes of brilliance over the past three weeks, throwing for six touchdowns and two interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Seth Green has also seen some time at quarterback lately, providing a dual threat for the Golden Gophers under center.
- Golden Gophers are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games following an ATS win.
- Golden Gophers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Wildcats are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Wildcats are 24-4-1 ATS in their last 29 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Its surprising enough that the Wildcats clinched the Big Ten West and even more shocking that they’ve wrapped up a division title with two conference games left to go. The home team has covered the spread in each of the last four meetings in this series and the Golden Gophers have covered the spread in 9 of their last 13 meetings against Northwestern coming into this game. With little left to play for, I expect the Wildcats to have a tough time getting up for this one. Take the Golden Gophers to pull off the upset at home after new defensive coordinator Joe Rossi pushed all the right buttons last week.
Prediction: Pick: Minnesota +2
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have stayed under the projected total in each of their last seven meetings and and five of their last six games in Minnesota. The Golden Gophers’ defense is coming off of its best game of the season at home against Purdue and they run into a Northwestern team that hasn’t exactly featured a high-powered offense this season. The Wildcats have scored 21 points or less in three of their last four games and they are fresh off of holding Iowa to just 10 points on the road last week. Look for this game to stay under the projected total at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Under 48