The Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans as both teams kick off the Big Ten portion of their schedules. The Golden Gophers roll in with three straight wins, all at home, vs. non-conference opponents. The Spartans dropped from 11th in the rankings down to 22nd following a 39-28 loss at Washington. The opening kick is set for 3:30pm EST.
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This is SpartansAfter three non-conference game in which the Golden Gophers outscored the opposition 149-17, Minnesota will get a real test this Saturday at Michigan State. Last Saturday, Minnesota enjoyed its final tuneup before Big Ten play begins with a 49-7 home win over Colorado.
"I think we're deeper than we've ever been. When you look at, you know, athletes and playmakers, we might not just have that one or two, maybe in past years, but when you look collectively at how we're running our offense, there's a lot of people involved." Minnesota head coach said after the blowout win.
Minnesota racked up 500 yards of total offense in the win, including 349 yards by halftime. The Golden Gophers led the game 35-0 at halftime and the game was all but over. Quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 11 of his 16 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Mo Ibrahim ran for three touchdowns and a total of 202 yards in the runaway win. The only blemish for the Minnesota offense was an apparent injury suffered by wideout Chris Autumn-Bell, who left the game in the second quarter after hurting his knee going for a pass.
The Gophers haven't been tested yet but they have a litany of skill position players this season. They are scoring 50 points per game thus far while allowing just over five points per game. They are averaging 5.8 yards per game on the ground and nearly 11 yards per completion. The Golden Gophers are pouring in 554 yards per game in total offense while allowing just 170 yards per game. They have a +1 turnover differential thus far, have an insane 78% conversion rate on third downs and are 18-of-19 in the red zone. The Golden Gophers dominant statistical edge will be put to the test in the team's first Big Ten game.
Spartans Looking to ReboundThe Michigan State Spartans are coming off a tough road loss in Washington, 39-28. The Spartans were done in by a 20-point Huskies' second quarter and were never able to completely come back. MSU is now 2-1 as they kick off the Big Ten portion of their schedule against the high-powered Minnesota Golden Gophers offense.
"We had a lot of support out here today and we really appreciate that. It's just a shame that we weren't able to come out here and play well today. There are no excuses or no explanations. We give Washington credit. They're very well coached and they outplayed us today in all three phases. We're going to learn a lot from it. We're going to show up tomorrow ready to work and we're going to have a better response next weekend." MSU head coach Mel Tucker said of the tough road loss.
MSU quarterback Payton Thorne was 30-of-42 for 323 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. He led the Spartans to 20 second-half points but couldn't complete the comeback. Wide receiver Keon Coleman had a career-day with career-highs with nine catches and 116 yards while also adding his first-ever two-touchdown game. Tight end Daniel Barker also had a big day with seven catches for 69 yards. The Spartans had 323 total yards of offense but just 42 on the ground against the Huskies as they were forced to play catch-up for most of the second half.
The Spartans defense has been stout against the run this season, allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. Overall, MSU is allowing an average of 354 yards of total offense per game this season. Teams are converting third downs at just a 33% average this season and Michigan State has a +1 turnover differential on the season. The Spartans have allowed 264 yards per game through the air and four touchdowns without picking off a pass. They were exposed by the Washington passing attack on Saturday and will look to rebound against a Minnesota passing game that has looked very good, albeit against inferior competition. If the game is close late, the Spartans may have the advantage as they have outscored the opposition 28-3 in the 4th quarter this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Minnesota hasn't played anybody but...they are #2 in total offense, #1 in time of possession, #2 in rushing offense, #1 in 3rd down conversions, #7 in scoring and #4 in first downs. I know, I know, they haven't played anyone yet but...the defense is #2 in total defense, #4 in scoring defense, #4 in passing defense, and #1 in third down stops. They are on the road in a huge prove-it-to-me game in East Lansing. They have two quality running backs and a slew of talented wide receivers even though they're without #1 receiver Autumn-Bell for the season. They are well coached, rarely make mistakes and haven't turned the ball over much at all this season. They haven't played anybody but...Michigan State's secondary was exposed by an admittedly great passing attack in Washington. Michigan State had one of the worst secondaries in football last season and last week's effort has to have them second guessing themselves. Michigan State has not been great at converting on third downs and now faces a team that is nearly the best in the country in doing so. While I don't think Michigan State's running game is as bad as it played last week, it is probably not as good as it was the previous week. If Michigan State can't pound the Golden Gophers with the rock, they could be in big trouble. My guess is that the Golden Gophers come into this game with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove and the Spartans will suffer through a bit of a hangover after being dominated by Washington's offense.
Lay the points and go with the Golden Gophers.
Full-Game Total Pick
The loss of Autumn-Bell hurts but Minnesota still has a ton of weapons on offense and top numbers across the board. They come into this one against a MSU defense that just gave up over 400 yards passing and now have to hear grumblings about its awful secondary once again. Last season, the Spartans were able to mask the deficiencies of their secondary with a ground and pound offense that controlled the clock. In this matchup, they face a team that specializes in controlling the clock, to the tune of nearly 40 minutes per game. Minnesota's defense has the numbers but hasn't been really tested yet so I think the Spartans will put up points. Expect a game in the mid 50s in this one, likely decided by a final possession.
Take the over, 51.5 points.