The Minnesota Golden Gophers football program is listed at odds of 50 to 1 to win the Big 10 conference, making them long shots in 2019.
But football bettors see something they like with the 2019 Gophers. Minnesota’s season win total betting number is listed at over or under 6.5 wins. Bettors have been betting the over as the money line attached to the over prop is now -165.
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Minnesota made and won a bowl game last year, which is what the goal was in the second season under P.J. Fleck. The Golden Gophers will look to improve yet again, especially after winning only three conference games last year.
That means competing for the Big Ten West title, something that will likely be a toss up most of the season.
Ground Game Likely to Improve
The question all summer and going into the fall is who will start at quarterback. Zack Annexstad won the position last year, but then got hurt and Tanner Morgan took over. Neither had overwhelming stats, but it’s likely Annexstad will get the call early in the season again.
Either way, this offense is built on a ground game that should improve given the bodies available. Mohamed Ibrahim (1,160 yards, 9 TDs) was stout last season, but will likely be the third option behind previously injured Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks.
That trio will be one of the best in the conference, but it won’t work unless the line continues to improve. That unit was a work in progress in the spring and probably will be throughout the season.
Replacing two starters isn’t easy, but the Gophers have the bodies to do it. Rounding out the offense is the return of top wide outs Tyler Johnson (1,169 yards, 12 TDs) and Rashod Bateman (704 yards, 6 TDs), who were a big help to the quarterback last year.
Defense Looks too Build on Strong Finish
Even if the offense improves, the defense still has to go up another level to compete consistently with the best teams in the conference after allowing 27.9 points and 170.7 rushing yards per contest.
The Gophers turned things around late last year, culminating in the 34-10 win over Georgia Tech, so if they can build on that, it’d be huge.
Playmakers like Carter Coughlin (9.5 sacks) and Antoine Winfield give this defense an edge, but senior linebackers Thomas Barber and Kamal Martin are reasons to believe that improvement is possible.
There are questions in the middle of the line, but if they can get by in that area, the Gophers should be a defense with upside, even with new coaches at a few position groups.
Non Conference Wins Key to Over Bettors
It’ll be important for the Gophers to escape non-conference play unscathed again, which means winning at Fresno State. To surpass six regular season wins, they’ll likely need a couple road wins, with any of their trips a possibility for an upset.
It helps that they have five home games in the Big Ten, but winning three of those will be key. If they want to take the next step under Fleck, that’ll likely mean getting a huge win against a team like Penn State or Wisconsin late in the season, or even on the road at Iowa.
They have the tools, but if Morgan and Annexstad are simply OK at quarterback, that won’t be enough to compete near the top of the standings in the West.
2019 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Schedule
Aug. 29 vs. South Dakota State
Sept. 7 at Fresno State
Sept. 14 vs. Georgia Southern
Sept. 28 at Purdue
Oct. 5 vs. Illinois
Oct. 12 vs. Nebraska (opened +1)
Oct. 19 at Rutgers
Oct. 26 vs. Maryland
Nov. 9 vs. Penn State
Nov. 16 at Iowa
Nov. 23 at Northwestern
Nov. 30 vs. Wisconsin