Minnesota 2018 Betting Preview: Will Gophers Improve In Fleck’s Second Season?

Minnesota 2018 Betting Preview: Will Gophers Improve In Fleck’s Second Season? article feature image

Minnesota 2018 Betting Odds

  • To win the National Title: +100000
  • To win the Big Ten: +6000
  • To win the Big Ten West: +1450
  • Win Total: 6 (over -125, under +105)

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Minnesota 2018 Schedule, Betting Odds

The Action Network Projected Wins: 5.7

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Minnesota Win Total Over 6

Minnesota will be a watch-and-learn team in 2018. The Gophers rank in the middle of the FBS pack in returning production, but four redshirt freshman quarterbacks keep the future cloudy. The Minnesota faithful will give head coach P.J. Fleck as much slack as possible in Year 2, as he should boast one of the most experienced teams in 2019 to keep rowing the boat.

The schedule doesn’t provide much clarity either, with two games the Gophers almost certainly can’t win (Wisconsin, Ohio State) and one game they should win (Illinois). Everything else will be tight. The schedule sets up nicely next year, since the Gophers avoid Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State, while hosting Wisconsin to end the year … but that is 2019.

Minnesota should have plenty of motivation to get to six wins and a bowl game, as that would give Fleck extra practices for 2019. Not only are both November home games at frigid TCF Bank Stadium, but the Gophers have the easier portion of the schedule leading up to that point. Minnesota plays Nebraska, Indiana and Illinois before Nov. 4, while Purdue and Northwestern have brutal stretches leading into trips to the Twin Cities.

There are seven games on the Gophers’ docket with a projected spread within a field goal. A five-game stint in the middle of the schedule from Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern will determine the season win total. Illinois and Nebraska are road games and round out a fairly light schedule (ranked 62nd by ESPN FPI). Fleck improved from 1-11 to 8-5 in his second year at Western Michigan, and I’m looking for that same kind of improvement by betting Over 6 wins.

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What else you need to know about Minnesota

The Gophers start 2018 with New Mexico State, which enjoyed a terrific 2017 season and should not be overlooked as it ranks 16th in returning production on defense, and did a decent job stopping explosive plays last season. Fleck did not have success getting the ball down the field in chunks, ranking 124th in offensive explosiveness.  There’s a good possibility that this game features a depleted New Mexico State offense (122nd in returning production on offense) against an incompetent, freshman-led Gophers attack in 90-degree heat. That should lend some value to the under, and my projections have this spread at 10.5, so there’s plenty of value New Mexico State +18.

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