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Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Betting Picks and Predictions

23 October 2020

NCAAF Picks Austyn Varney
Date:Saturday, October 24th
Time:7:30 PM ET
Network:ABC
Venue:TCF Bank Stadium
Spread:MICH -3.5
O/U:54.5

The 0-0 Michigan Wolverines will go on the road Saturday afternoon to face off with the 0-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers at 7:30 PM ET in TCF Bank Stadium. You can watch the game on ABC as the game of the night. The Wolverines come in as 3.5-point road favorites and we’re looking at a 54.5 over/under. This is week one for both of these teams, so we don’t know exactly what to expect on either side. Let’s dive right in and figure out who will win this game and cover the spread in the process. 

When The Michigan Wolverines Have The Ball

The Wolverines enter as the 18th ranked team in the country and are one of the biggest unknowns remaining in College Football. They have all the talent in the world for what seems like the fifth season in a row, but the disappointment can’t seem to escape Michigan football. They get a big test right off the bat against Minnesota and the winner of this game could find themselves in the top 12. 

With the departure of Shea Patterson, Harbaugh all but confirmed Joe Milton will be getting the start at QB. He has the most experience with eight games under his belt and has a ton of upside in his arm. He’s far from a sure thing, however, and Michigan fans will be holding their breath to see how he looks under center. Youngster Cade McNamara will be in the wings and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play it Milton struggles. With that said, I actually like Milton quite a bit and expect him to impress against the Gophers. 

In the backfield, Zach Charbonnet will lead the unit for the second consecutive season. He rushed for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019. Chris Evans and Hassan Haskins will both see plenty of time as change-of-pace backs and don’t be surprised if the backfield belongs to Evans by season end. While Charbonnet is a monster near the goal line, he’s not very explosive in the open field. Evans is extremely talented and has a lot more long-term upside than Charbonnet. 

With Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Nico Collins leaving, Michigan is without their three leading pass-catchers from a season ago. Ronnie Bell remains after catching 48 balls for 756 yards and a score. He’s the teams top threat, but it remains to be seen if he stays in the slot or heads outside. Tight end Nick Eubanks was great in 2019 with 243 yards and four touchdowns and he’ll be joined in 12 sets by another monster in Erick All. All is more of a pass-catcher. Mike Sainristil and Giles Jackson will start at WR opposite Bell and both are talented guys with a huge ceiling. It just comes down to the chemistry they have with Milton after a shortened camp. 

When The Minnesota Golden Gophers Have The Ball

The Minnesota Gophers are always a hard-nosed team and come off as a squad that might not be affected as most are by the pandemic. They have their built in identity and every player on the roster knows their goals game in and game out. Especially with Junior QB Tanner Morgan back under the helm, who threw for 3,253 yards in 2019 with 30 touchdowns. He has two of his top receivers back and I don’t expect the offense to miss much of a beat. 

They did lose leading-rusher Rodney Smith, but Mohamed Ibrahim will step in and I think he’s a better back. He averaged nearly .5 yards more per carry in 2019 and ran for just one less touchdown with seven of them. Treyson Potts will back him up and he redshirted a season ago after rushing the ball just seven times for 51 yards and a score. 

Leading-receiver Tyler Johnson has gone to the NFL, but Rashod Bateman is one of the best receivers in College Football and he is coming off 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns a season ago. Chris Autman-Bell will step into the WR2 role next to Bateman and he’s more than capable. Clay Geary will get his first shot to start and he’ll be more of a safe option on third downs for Morgan when all else is covered up. 

The Golden Gophers know what they want to do with the ball, but Michigan is talented enough to slow them down as a unit if they play together. Look for the Gophers to run the ball early as they attempt to get the respect of the Wolverines. This is going to be a phenomenal game, no matter who prevails. 

Spread Prediction

This is a tough number as I do think the Wolverines win, but it’ll be close. The Michigan Wolverines are the most talented team in the conference and it seems like a perfect time for them to strike when everyone is sleeping on them. The defense is elite and I expect the Gophers to struggle to move the ball. There isn’t much tape on this Michigan offense and I have a lot of belief in them this season. The offensive line is packed full of upperclassmen and they’re going to push the Gophers defensive line around. Give me the Wolverines to win this game by a touchdown, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s by a field goal. See if you can buy this number down to 2.5 and I would love Michigan. 

The Pick: Michigan -3.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Total Prediction

The Gophers offense is carrying this total after throwing for 30 touchdowns in 2019. They had a lot of their damage against weak defenses and I see them having some growing pains with Tyler Johnson out of the mix. Michigan is stout defensively and experienced in the trenches. The Gophers can pass the ball, but they also don’t have a great line and the Wolverines are going to give Morgan much time. The under is my favorite bet in this game and I’ll be laying two units. 

The Pick: Under 54.5

Final Score Prediction: Michigan 31, Minnesota 21

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers
  • Michigan is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games.
  • Minnesota is 2-11 ATS in their last 13 games played in week 8.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Michigan’s last 17 games played in week 8.

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