Minnesota Betting Odds Preview
Minnesota hasn't posted a winning Big Ten record in 10 years. The Gophers have definitely made some progress in two seasons under head coach Jerry Kill, so now it's a matter of taking the next step; beating some of the bigger dogs of the Big Ten and winning a bowl game. After going 3-9, then 6-7, Minnesota is now in its third season under coach Kill. And college teams often seem to make significant improvements in the third year of new coaching regimes.
Minnesota had six starters back last year for their second season under coach Kill, and the goal was simply to make a bowl, after sitting out the bowl season the previous two years. Thanks to some light early-season scheduling they did make a bowl. The Gophers started 4-0, beating UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, and Syracuse, which meant all they had to do was win two Big Ten games to become bowl-eligible.
They then lost to Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, but picked up that first needed victory over Purdue. They then lost to Michigan but got what they needed with a win at Illinois. UM then lost to Nebraska and Michigan State, but then put in one of their better efforts of the year in losing to Texas Tech 34-31 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl as 13-point underdogs, a game they led late. So the Gophers finished 6-7 overall, 2-6 in the Big Ten, and 6-7 ATS. But while they won six games they were still fairly non-competitive against teams like the Badgers, Wolverines, Huskers, and Spartans, to whom they lost by an average of three touchdowns per game.
This year Minnesota returns 16 starters, second-most in the conference; ten are back on offense, including their starting QB, leading rusher, and all five along the offensive line, while six are back on a defense that ranked seventh in yards allowed in conference play last year. But they will have to replace last year's top two tacklers and DL Wilhite, who led the team in sacks last year.
The Gophers warm up this fall with four winnable non-conference games, although San Jose State might give them a good test. And they better take advantage of every winnable game on the slate, because there are no gimmes on a Big Ten roll that includes home games with Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin and road dates at Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, and Michigan State. Minnesota might be favored in each of its first five games, but might not be favored after that.
Big Ten Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 5
Ohio State -115
Michigan State +800