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This may not look like a huge matchup just by looking at the team names, but it is in fact a Top 25 game between two Big Ten schools. In addition, Wisconsin still has a slim chance of making a BCS bowl. As for Minnesota, no one envisioned its current 8-2 record. With all that said, the Badgers are still -16 point favorites on the road at betonline.
The Badgers don't really have a good win this year, which is why their BCS ranking (19) is so low. Their win against BYU a couple weeks ago is probably the best one considering Northwestern has fallen off the map. A road win over Minnesota would take spot as their best win and that's not saying much. Road losses at Arizona State and Ohio State tell the story of Wisconsin's season.
A lot of people are pointing to head coach Jerry Kill for Minnesota's inspiration this season and for good reason. Kill suffered a seizure in the third game and then was forced to take a leave from the team to get treatment for epilepsy. Since returning to the team and coaching (in the press box), Minnesota has won four straight games, three of them as underdogs.
The Gophers are led by quarterback Philip Nelson, who isn't posting eye-popping numbers, but is getting the job done. In those last four wins, Nelson has 10 total touchdowns and zero interceptions. Running back David Cobb has been just as good, reaching 100 yards in four straight. Overall, the team is playing better than what was seen in the first six weeks. After scoring 20 total points in back-to-back games against Iowa and Michigan, the Gophers had a bye and have looked different since then.
That goes for the Minnesota defense as well, that has stopped Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State all to respectable point totals. While the Badgers are huge favorites, you can't deny how well Minnesota is playing.
The Badgers, of course, are carving through defenses almost every week. They already have two 1,000-yard rushers which says it all. Melvin Gordon (1,306 yards) and James White (1,156 yards) both have 12 touchdowns a piece and haven't really been contained. Ohio State was the only team that truly stopped Wisconsin's rushing attack. That running game then opens up lanes for quarterback Joel Stave to operate and find guys like Jared Abbrederis.
Wisconsin hasn't been as good on the road this year so there is a chance for Minnesota to get another upset. The Gophers will have to contain the Badgers to less than 30 points, which can be done. Wisconsin managed 28 points at Iowa and 27 points against BYU. If that's the case in this game, Minnesota will surely cover because it's hard seeing them being stopped to single digits.
It's hard to look at previous years of this matchup to get an idea of how this will go because Minnesota hasn't been this good in a while. The last time they won in this matchup was back in 2003.
The Badgers are 6-0-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a bye week. The Golden Gophers have covered in four straight and are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 home games. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these schools and the over has hit 12 times in the last 13 meetings.
The betting trends at sportsbook.com show 68% of the wagers taken thus far have come in on Wisconsin.
It's easy enough to make a case for Wisconsin here statistically and our model agrees that Wisconsin should win this game, likely by 17 to 20 points. But there's some value with the Gophers here as the line has moved from +14.5 to +17 and it may keep rising. The Gophers can score some points which makes them a live dog here and the bottom line is, you don't get to be 8-2 by accident, regardless of who you have or haven't played. An 8-2 team getting 17 points at home? Worth a shot. Minnesota +17
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