Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#131 Minnesota vs.
#132 Colorado
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will visit the Colorado Buffaloes in a non-conference showdown on Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field. Minnesota avoided an upset bid last weekend with a 31-26 victory over the Miami Ohio RedHawks as a 19-point home favorite and is now 1-1 (0-1 Big Ten) for the season. Colorado is also 1-1 overall after losing a heartbreaker to the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday by a 10-7 scoreline as a 17-point underdog at a neutral site in Denver.

These teams have not met since all the way back in 1992, when Colorado improved to 3-0 all-time against Minnesota with a 21-20 win on the road.

Minnesota holds on to get in the win column

After playing the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes tough to open the season, Minnesota's contest against Miami Ohio was far more difficult than most envisioned, but the Golden Gophers managed to hang on for their first victory in 2021. Things went well enough in the first half as Minnesota built a 21-3 lead on touchdown passes from Tanner Morgan to Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson in the second quarter, yet the RedHawks kept battling with 17 straight points to cut the deficit to one early in the fourth. Treyson Potts' opener up some breathing room with 10 minutes to go on his second touchdown run of the game, and Minnesota managed to string together a couple of first downs to run out the clock following another RedHawks score.

Potts, who is filling in for injured star running back Mohammed Ibrahim, keyed the victory with 34 carries for 178 yards and the two scores. Morgan only completed eight of his 17 pass attempts, but made them count with 112 yards and two scores. Winning the turnover battle 2-0 was critical for the Golden Gophers, as they were outgained 341-287 overall.

"Gutsy. That's Trey Potts,' head coach P.J.' Fleck said to The Star Tribune. "… You don't know how somebody's going to react when it's that type of situation in that type of game. You know what Mo [Ibrahim] is going to do, but Mo's done that for years. Now Trey is showing what he can do.''

Minnesota is off to a 0-1-1 start against the spread, as it was able to push as a 14-point underdog against Ohio State in the opener. Both of Minnesota's game have gone over the betting total after Saturday's game narrowly cleared 55 points on the late RedHawks touchdown.

The Golden Gophers are off to a good start offensively with 31 points per game while racking up an average of 191.5 yards on the ground. A defense that struggled in 2020 has a lot of work to do this year, as the Golden Gophers are allowing 35.5 points and 418 yards per game.

Morgan has not been featured heavily, completing 22 of his 42 pass attempts for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Wright, a transfer from Texas A&M, is the top target with eight catches for 130 yards and two scores. Mariano Sori-Marin leads the Minnesota defense with 16.5 tackles including 1.5 for loss while also breaking up a pass.

Ibrahim, who has 3,003 yards and three touchdowns in his career, was lost for the year with a lower leg injury suffered in the third quarter of the Ohio State game. Top wideout Chris Autman-Bell has not played yet this year due to a leg injury, but it sounds like he will return for this weekend's game. Safety Jordan Howden also suffered a leg injury in the Ohio State game and it is unclear when he will return.

Colorado falters in final moments in Denver

The Buffaloes looked like they were headed for a signature win over a top-five team early in year two under head coach Karl Dorrell, but took a heartbreaking loss instead after leading Texas A&M for the majority of the game. Jarek Broussard ran it in from two yards out late in the first quarter for Colorado's only score of the game, and the defense couldn't quite hold on as the Aggies took it 77 yards down the field on 11 plays for the game-winner with under three minutes to go.

Quarterback Brendon Lewis struggled to move the ball down the field, completing 13 of his 25 passes for 86 yards while also leading the team in rushing with nine carries for 76 yards. Nate Landman led a stellar defensive effort with 10 tackles including two for a loss and two pass breakups. The Buffaloes held Texas A&M to just 280 yards of total offense, yet it wasn't enough as they gained only 260 yards themselves.

“There’s no reason to hang our head low for anything,” Dorrell said to the Associated Press. “We had a chance to win a game, a significant game, and our locker room is more disappointed about not finishing the game. I thought defensively we played really well, but offensively we had some good moments but struggled at times, couldn’t put anything together in the second half.”

Colorado is now 1-1 against the spread after failing to cover as a huge 37.5-point favorite in the win over FCS Northern Colorado to begin the year. Both of Colorado's games have gone well under the betting total, as the two teams got nowhere close to 51 points on Saturday afternoon in Denver.

The early season questions are all on offense, as Colorado is averaging just 21 points and 95.5 passing yards per game despite playing an FCS team in the opener. Colorado's defense has looked fantastic, allowing just 8.5 points and 275 yards per contest in the early going.

Lewis, who got a crack at the starting job as a redshirt freshman, has completed 23 of 40 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception while running the ball 17 times for 120 yards. Broussard is the focal point offensively with 27 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while Daniel Arias leads the team with 37 receiving yards on three catches. Na'im Rodman has been disruptive early on with two tackles for loss and two sacks.

Quarterback J.T. Shrout, who was expected to be the starter, suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Safety Chris Miller didn't play against Texas A&M for undisclosed reasons and is questionable for Saturday. Key defensive end Terrance Lang also suffered a soft tissue injury last weekend, but at least has returned to practice. Wide receiver La'Vontae Shenault is suspended indefinitely.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Colorado has performed better than anyone expected in the eight games since Dorrell took over what looked like a tough situation, and there were a lot of positives last week even in a losing effort against a great Texas A&M team. The Buffaloes will control this game with their physicality while scratching out just enough offense against a bad Minnesota defense.

It looks like the same old story for a Golden Gophers defense that ranked in the bottom five a year ago with 6.8 yards allowed per play, as even a MAC opponent in Miami Ohio generated plenty of big plays last weekend. That means the offense has to be really good to make up for it, and losing Ibrahim is a huge deal as Morgan hasn't shown the ability to push the ball downfield the last two seasons.

Minnesota's run-heavy gameplan plays right into Colorado's strengths, as the Buffaloes looked great in the trenches last weekend while holding Texas A&M to 3.91 yards per rush attempt. Throw in the fact that this is a difficult road environment to play in with the elevation, and Minnesota is in trouble against a Colorado team that looks ready to exceed expectations for the second straight season.

Prediction: Colorado -2.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rating:

While Minnesota is a team that tends to play more high-scoring games than this total indicates, both teams are too run-heavy with limited quarterback play for this over to hit. Morgan has fallen to just 7.5 yards per pass attempt over the last two years, and it still isn't clear which Minnesota wideouts will step up in 2021 after high-level talents like Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman left for the NFL since the end of 2019.

Lewis almost has as many designed rush attempts as pass completions in the first two weeks, and Colorado's offense is going to lean heavily on Broussard all season long. The Minnesota run game remained impressive last week without Ibrahim, but Colorado is a huge step up defensively from Miami Ohio, and neither team will generate enough passing yards for this to go over.

Prediction: Under 48.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.