This Saturday the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-5) will host the Northwestern Wildcats (6-4). Kickoff for this Big Ten West showdown is set for 12:00 EST at TCF Bank Stadium and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Oddsmakers currently have the Wildcats listed as a slim 2.5-point home favorite with the total set for 50 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 12 betting schedule and for more links to our game previews.
Minnesota vs Northwestern Betting Preview & Game Odds
The Wildcats come into this one off a 14-10 win and cover as a 11.5-point road dog at Iowa this past Saturday. A win that locked up the Big Ten West title and a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. It’s crazy to think that a team that lost back-to-back home games to Duke and Akron has a shot to win the conference.
The Gophers enter off a surprising 40-10 blowout win at home over Purdue as an 11-point underdog. Only the second conference win for Minnesota this season, as they are tied with with Illinois and Nebraska in the basement of the West at 2-5. That win moved the Gophers one step closer to bowl eligibility. All they need to do is win this week at home over Northwestern or next week on the road against Wisconsin.
Last year’s meeting wasn’t all that competitive, as Northwestern won 39-0 at home as a 7-point favorite. It was the second straight time the Gophers were held scoreless in Evanston, as they lost 27-0 back in 2015. The good news for Minnesota is they haven’t lost at home to the Wildcats since 2012.
Vegas Free NCAA Football Betting Pick: Minnesota +2.5
I would have to lean towards playing the Gophers as a home dog in this one. I just think Minnesota will be the more motivated and focused team for this matchup.
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Northwestern is in an usual spot for a team that has a division title wrapped up in a Power 5 conference with two games to play. Usually that team has at least an outside shot at making the playoffs if they were to win the conference title game. That’s simply not the case for the Wildcats. They got zero chance of making the playoffs.
What that means is there’s really no incentive here for them in this game against Minnesota. A loss here changes nothing for this team and they got a cupcake on deck at home against Illinois to get right before the title game.
As for the Gophers, they need one more win to become bowl eligible. It was understandable that they didn’t make one in P.J. Fleck’s first season, but to miss out in year two would be a major disappointment. Seeing how motivated this team played last week against Purdue, I would be shocked if we didn’t see them play with that same fire on senior day, as the veterans on this team play their final home game.
I know the game last week against Purdue was played in the cold and snow, but they held Purdue’s offense to a season-low in yards the very first game after firing defensive coordinator Robb Smith. While there’s no snow in the forecast, it’s going to be well below freezing with game-time temperatures expected in the low to mid 20’s.
It’s also worth noting that Minnesota has responded well from an upset win, as they are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 off a conference win as a double-digit underdog. Gophers are also a strong 24-9-2 in their last 35 games played in November and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 at home. Give me Minnesota +2.5!