Michigan’s offense finally showed some life last week and it came via the backup quarterback. At the Big House again this weekend, the Wolverines have another favorable matchup against a Minnesota team that continues to disappoint. The Wolverines were -15.5 point favorites early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Michigan still has one of the best defenses in the nation and that’s not going to help Minnesota’s ineffective offense. The Gophers have scraped by in every Big Ten Game this season, most recently falling 17-10 at Iowa. While they’ve been competitive, they don’t have the extra level to pull out wins and that’s why they’re 1-4 in the conference. After scoring 10 points at Iowa last week, not much more is expected in this one.
Covering this Game will come down to what sophomore quarterback Brandon Peters can do for Michigan. The fan base already has Peters slated as the future after leading the team to an easy win against Rutgers when John O’Korn was benched. Of course, it was against Rutgers so going 10-of-14 can only go so far. And it’s not like Minnesota has a bad defense so that’s something to consider here. again, the Gophers have been competitive in every Game this season and that can’t be ignored.
If you believe in Peters, then this is a great spot to back Michigan. His experience is still limited so that’s not an easy thing to bet on. Karan Higdon has powered the running attack in recent Games and will likely do the same with help from former starter Ty Isaac. Minnesota’s rush defense is fine, giving up 133 yards per Game and if they can limit Higdon just a little bit, that will put some pressure on Peters after getting none last week.
But scoring will be difficult for Minnesota, which is why 24 or 27 points may be enough for Michigan to cover. The Gophers have turned to Demry Croft at quarterback the last couple Games and he hasn’t done any better than Conor Rhoda. Croft is a combined 14-of-44 for three interceptions in the last two Games. Needless to say, the Gophers will try and run as much as possible behind Rodney Smith with Shannon Brooks dealing with a shoulder injury. If Smith can’t find any room against a rush defense that’s allowing slightly more than 100 yards per Game, Minnesota will be in trouble.
Expect this one to be lower scoring with both teams going to the ground with hopes of establishing the run. Michigan has the better chance of doing that, but winning by two touchdowns in a low-scoring Game that’s dominated by mediocre rushing attacks isn’t an easy thing.
The Golden Gophers are 7-1-4 ATS in their last 12 road Games, but 1-3-1 ATS in their last five overall. The Wolverines have failed to cover in their last Four home Games and are 1-4 ATS in their last five following a straight-up win. Jim Harbaugh won this matchup the last time these teams met, 29-26 back in 2015, and the Wolverines are 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings.
Our Pick – Minnesota +15.5