Minnesota vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks, Predictions: Target Total in Big Ten Clash
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Payton Thorne (Michigan State)
Minnesota vs. Michigan State Odds
Michigan State looks to beat the fraud allegations after a 39-28 loss to Washington and returns home to open up Big Ten play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Minnesota enters this game looking to continue its hot start to the season.
The Golden Gophers, through three games, have outscored opponents 149-17. Of course, they've played New Mexico State, FCS Western Illinois and Colorado, so they are still looking to prove themselves.
Both teams have some serious questions that will likely be answered in this game, but only one team can come out of this contest with a 1-0 start in the Big Ten.
On paper, the Golden Gophers look like a College Football Playoff contender. They are second in Defensive Success Rate, second in Rush Play Success Rate Allowed, third in Pass Down Success Rate Allowed, sixth in Pass Play Success Rate and seventh in Offensive Success Rate.
Their quarterback, Tanner Morgan, has a passer rating of 190.8, is completing 71.7% of his passes and has thrown for 618 yards in three games. Three different players have over 100 yards rushing and three others have over 100 yards receiving.
Again, this is all in just three games.
The only problem? Minnesota has earned all of these rankings and stats against two teams who rank outside the top 100 in FBS, one of which is New Mexico State, which ranks second to last.
And the Golden Gophers' third win came against Western Illinois, which ranks 122nd out of 130 FCS schools.
Minnesota ranks 129th in seconds per play and is also 32nd in plays per game, averaging 77 per contest. While I don't expect the 35+ point output to continue for the Gophers, there is one thing I think that'll remain the same, if not improve, against the Spartans.
I expect the number of plays to drop off severely, and if possible, P.J. Fleck will find a way to slow down this game even more and control the time of possession as much as possible.
Michigan State struggled last week against Washington, though some of that can be attributed to the fact that it was without some key players on both sides of the ball.
Linebacker Darius Snow is out for the season, and there's no update yet on whether safety Xavier Henderson, receiver Jayden Reed and defensive tackle Jacob Slade will be available this week.
The Spartans' offense will threaten the Golden Gophers' defense regardless of Reed's status.
In Reed's absence against Washington, quarterback Payton Thorne racked up 323 passing yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Daniel Barker contributed a significant chunk of that production, logging 69 yards on seven catches.
Thorne can also throw to Tre Mosley and Keon Coleman, who each have three touchdowns on the season.
Reed is a talented receiver and there's no doubt this team would be better with him on the field, but I don't expect the offense to fall off considerably without him.
Michigan State's run game was basically shut down against Washington, as two running backs combined for 30 yards on 17 carries. Now facing the seventh-ranked rush defense in the country, I don't expect that number to improve much.
However, it is worth noting that I don't think Minnesota is "truly" the seventh-ranked anything in the nation.
The Spartans' biggest weakness remains the same as last year — the pass defense. In 2021, Michigan State ranked last among all FBS teams in passing yards allowed per game.
Not much seems to have changed, as Washington logged 397 yards and four touchdowns through the air last week. To make matters worse, the Spartans failed to record a single sack or even register a quarterback hurry.
However, the good news for Michigan State is that the Gophers don't pass the ball much and if they tried, I'm not sure they'd have much success. Minnesota ranks fifth in the country in rush rate and opts to run the ball on 70.3% of its plays.
Minnesota vs. Michigan State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Minnesota and Michigan State match up statistically:
Minnesota Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Michigan State Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||31||122|
|Seconds per Play||31.4 (129)||24.4 (31)|
|Rush Rate||70.3% (5)||52.4% (76)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Minnesota vs. Michigan State Betting Pick
Both of these teams are unproven, and I'm not confident enough in either of them to get the win.
However, I am confident in these defenses.
These offenses have yet to be challenged, and that includes Michigan State's loss last week, as the Washington defense struggles in Finishing Drives (ranked 65th).
Now the Spartans are facing a Minnesota defense that, I must admit, hasn't truly been tested either, but ranks among the best in the country in Defensive Success Rates.
Both offenses will likely struggle in their first real tests of the season. And both coaches will be heavily jockeying for an advantage when it comes to time of possession.
Expect a rock fight in East Lansing.
I locked in the under at 51, and I would feel confident in any number better than 49.