Minnesota has come out swinging this season, and Michigan State might not have what it takes to slow it down. Our college football betting picks break down just how badly the Gophers will beat down the Spartans.
Going on the road to a traditional Big Ten power as a field-goal favorite is unfamiliar territory for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but there is good reason to side with PJ Fleck & Co. against the Michigan State Spartans.
Minnesota has utterly dominated its opponents this season, winning three games by an average score of 50 to 6 while Michigan State just had all its weaknesses exploited by Washington in an 11-point loss.
Can Mel Tucker get his squad to bounce back in just a week? The college football odds do not think so.
Here are our free college football betting picks and predictions for Minnesota at Michigan State on September 24, with kickoff set for 3:30 ET.
Minnesota vs Michigan State best odds
Minnesota vs Michigan State picks and predictions
Do you have decent hands, with the ability to catch a remote thrown to you from across the room? If the crosswalk is blinking “Don’t Walk,” are you able to hustle across the street without getting hit by a car? Then you, too, may be able to gash Michigan State’s secondary for a chunk gain through the air.
That is obviously an exaggeration, but the Spartans are that vulnerable against a solid passing game. To make matters worse, they produce little pressure on the quarterback to help that secondary. At Washington on Saturday night, they bothered Huskies’ QB Michael Penix on only 12.5% of snaps, per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, while blitzing him 15% of the time.
Opposing QBs enjoying their time against Michigan State has become a theme. In its final five regular-season games last year, that defense gave up an average of 411 passing yards per game and 10.3 yards per pass attempt. Those opponents threw for 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Penix, the first viable opponent to face the Spartans this season, continuing that with such ease makes it clear, MSU did not fix its defense in the offseason.
Gophers sixth-year senior QB Tanner Morgan should be able to take ample advantage of that. He has averaged 11.7 yards per attempt this season — not yet fully opening it up simply because Minnesota has routed its opponents — but his previous season starting under offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca underscores how dangerous this Gophers’ offense should be Saturday.
Ciarraocca spent two seasons elsewhere, but in 2019, he and Morgan schemed their way to 30 touchdowns against just seven interceptions with 10.2 yards per pass attempt — averaging 250.2 passing yards per game.
This downfield offense is back and it will now face a secondary simply begging to be ravaged. This mismatch is so strong, it overrules any thought of Michigan State mounting its own scoring attack. The Spartans have an adequate offense, but nowhere near enough of one to compensate for this lapsed secondary.
A mismatch like this should lead to higher variance on Saturday afternoon. The analytics that lead to this spread assume a typical game, but if Minnesota & Morgan get humming, they should win easily. A field-goal edge will not reflect that. An alternate line may be more appropriate.
My best bet: Minnesota -6.5 (+158 at FanDuel)
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Minnesota vs Michigan State betting preview
•Spread analysis •Over/Under analysis •Trend to know •Game information •Injuries •Weather
Perhaps the biggest concern for Michigan State is that it cannot sit back and try to keep Morgan’s passes underneath. That would play into Minnesota’s greatest individual strength, sixth-year running back Mohamed Ibrahim. Coming off an Achilles injury less than 13 months ago, Ibrahim has already rushed for 464 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
The Gophers would be delighted to hand off to him 22 times for 150 yards and two scores.
Few opponents have lived like that against the Spartans, partly because the greatest defensive weakness is that downfield availability, but Michigan, Maryland, and Ohio State all rushed for more than four yards per carry against MSU late last season.
Notably, this spread has moved towards Minnesota all week. Some books opened with the Gophers a short underdog before quickly positioning them as one-point favorites. That expected edge then grew early in the week, establishing itself at three points.
Covers college football betting analysis
When Michigan State loses, games tend to lean towards the Over. The same might be said if Minnesota wins.
At only 50.5 points, this Over/Under does not seem to properly account for the Gophers’ return to that 2019-era offense. When Morgan has license to open things up, he has shown success, and Ciarrocca gives him that license.
A 27-24 result may be very Big Ten-esque, but in addition to all three games this season, Minnesota scored 30 or more points in seven of 12 regular-season games last year, and that was without Ibrahim and Ciarrocca. With them in 2019 (skipping the 2020 season for obvious reasons), the Gophers cracked 30 in 10 of 13 games, averaging 34.1 points per game.
If that Minnesota has returned, and it seems it has, this total feels too low by at least a touchdown.
Minnesota vs Michigan State betting trend to know
Golden Gophers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win. Find more NCAA betting trends for Minnesota vs. Michigan State.
Minnesota vs Michigan State game info
• Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
• Date: Saturday, September 24, 2022
• Kick-off: 3:30 p.m. ET
• TV: Big Ten Network
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