Penn State vs. Minnesota Odds & Picks: Can Gophers Survive First True Challenge?

Penn State vs. Minnesota Odds & Picks: Can Gophers Survive First True Challenge? article feature image

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Garrett Taylor

  • The latest Penn State vs. Minnesota odds have the Nittany Lions as a 6.5-point favorite, with the over/under at 48.
  • The unbeaten Gophers struggled in non-conference play but have rolled through their Big Ten slate, albeit against five teams with backup quarterbacks.
  • Action EDGE members can get all our picks on this game, including a first-half spread and game total.

Penn State vs. Minnesota Odds, Picks

  • Odds: Penn State -6.5
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: ABC
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minn.

Odds as of Saturday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Not all undefeated teams are created equal.

Minnesota has a strength of schedule outside the top 80, while Penn State is just inside the top 20. And that creates uncertainty about just how good the Gophers are.

With the exception of Michigan, no team has scored more than 13 points on the Nittany Lions. Minnesota allowed more than 30 points to Purdue, Georgia Southern and Fresno State, and won all four of its non-conference games by single digits.

Can the Gophers handle the step up in class, or will Penn State flex its muscles on Saturday to remain unbeaten.

How PSU-Minnesota Odds Have Moved

Public bettors have been on the Nittany Lions — who opened at -6.5 — since this line opened, but oddsmakers have had trouble keeping the line at a touchdown.

On each occasion PSU went to -7, bigger bettors have slammed Minnesota at the key number, sending the line back to its opener. The 36% of Gopher bettors have accounted for 45% of money being wagered on the spread.

The total hasn’t seen a whole lot of movement despite a 73% backing of the under. Perhaps the more balanced money percentages (58% on the under) have kept the movement under control, as the number has only fallen from 48 to 47.5. — Danny Donahue

Wilson: One Key Edge for Penn State

Every offensive advanced statistic is countered by a better defensive rating for both sides (except one, which I’ll get to).

Minnesota is 25th in rush and 10th in passing success rate, but will have issues against a Penn State defense that is No. 1 and No. 8 in the same categories. Minnesota ranks No. 2 in defensive pass explosiveness, which should come into play against Sean Clifford and the Penn State passing attack.

But that one is in the trenches, with Line Yards and Stuff Rate. Minnesota ranks outside the top 70 in those categories while Penn State is top 5. The Nittany Lions ground attack (which hasn’t been great, for what it’s worth) should control the game.

Our Action Network power ratings make this game Penn State -9 with a total of 56, as the low over/under oddsmakers have posted may be influenced by the terrible offenses Minnesota has faced.

But the one constant we know is Penn State’s defense, which ranks No. 3 in yards per play allowed against a much tougher schedule.

Since the Buffalo game, Penn State has yet to trail entering halftime. In the past five games, Penn State has allowed 20 points total in the first half. Collin Wilson

Collin’s Pick: Penn State -3.5 1H [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Stuckey: Gophers Offense Is For Real

This is a really tough game for me to handicap for two primary reasons:

  1. Penn State has owned me all season
  2. Minnesota hasn’t played anybody

I’m convinced that Minnesota has an extremely good offense, led by the three-headed monster of QB Tanner Morgan, RB Rodney Smith and WR Tyler Johnson (who you will see on Sundays eventually). Rashod Bateman is also a very nice complementary wideout on the outside. I can confidently say that this is a top 20 offense and it might be even be a top 10 offense in the country.

The primary question I do have about Minnesota is on the other side of the ball. The Gophers do have talent in the secondary, which I believe is the strength of their defense, but I still question how stout they are in the trenches.

Remember, this is a team that allowed almost 30 points per game over their first four contests against Georgia Southern, Fresno State, Purdue and South Dakota State. Not exactly a murderer’s row — and all four wins came by single digits.

Now, the defense has played better of late (and the offense has continued to roll over the past four games) but against who? Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland with only one of those four coming on the road (Rutgers).

And if that path wasn’t easy enough, they faced a second or third-string quarterback in all five Big Ten victories.

So, again, how good is this team, and specifically the defense? We don’t really know, but we do know this is a huge step up in competition.

Penn State also has a perfect record on the season but unlike Minnesota, the Nittany Lions have a number of quality wins (at Iowa, Michigan, at Michigan State).

I love their defense, which features a ferocious front seven that can get in the backfield as well as any team in the country. But I do still have questions about quarterback Sean Clifford and the offense.

It seems that Clifford, as you see sometimes with young quarterbacks, excels early on in the game during the scripted portion and then starts to tail off from an efficiency standpoint.

Against five Power 5 opponents they’ve faced this year, the Nittany Lions have a cumulative first quarter score of 59-3. It feels like they jump out to a touchdown lead in every contest.

I do think the offense will have some success on the ground against Minnesota’s questionable rush defense. And you can also expect some shots downfield and some explosive plays when they get the ball to KJ Hamler in space.

You know I have to mention special teams, where Penn State should have a big advantage as the Gophers have struggled in this department throughout 2019. Minnesota really misses kicker Emmitt Carpenter as his replacement, freshman Michael Lantz, is just 5-8 on field goal attempts this season with two of the misses coming from under 40 yards.

PSU has also been better in the punting department. Per SP+, Penn State’s special teams rank in the top 20 while Minnesota ranks 91st.

I make this game Penn State -4 and that’s after recently bumping the Nittany Lions up two more points for how off I’ve been on them this year.

I do still have questions about PSU, but have those same doubts about Minnesota’s start.

Therefore, I want a flat Minnesota +7 or better. But, if I can’t get it, I’ll look to play the Gophers live and hope Penn State continues its trend of hopping out to big leads early.

And in regards to the total at 47.5/48, I think it’s too low. As I mentioned before, I think this Gopher offense is legit but the defense may get exposed by Penn State. — Stuckey

Stuckey’s Pick: Minnesota +7 or better [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Miller: Matchups Leading Me to Under

This is the biggest game in the history of Minnesota football, and it’s shaping up to be a slugfest on Saturday afternoon. Penn State comes in ranked fourth in the college football play off rankings while the undefeated Gophers were slotted in at No. 17. The committee’s reason for that ranking also has a lot to do with my pick in this game.

As I’m sure you’ve read by now, Minnesota squeaked by an easy non-conference slate and has since notched wins over basement dwelling Big Ten teams with backup quarterbacks. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad football team, it just means that they aren’t what you’d expect from an 8-0 Big Ten team.

The Gophers’ offense in particular is going to have trouble moving the ball against an elite Penn State defense. In addition, they rank seventh in percentage of run plays so the clock will be ticking. Even if they are able to move the ball a little bit, Minnesota is one of the slowest moving offenses in the nation.

Penn State has found most of its success in 2019 through the air. Receiver K.J. Hamler is one of the most explosive players in the league, but he’s matched up with some talented defensive backs this week. While I’m leery of the schedule Minnesota has faced, the secondary has completely dominated everyone they’ve faced.

I expect Penn State to cover this game, but I’d rather play the under. The total opened at 48 and took some under money as it sits at 47.5. I’m holding out for a possible 49 but I’ll take anything at 48 or better. Kyle Miller

Pick: Under 48 or better [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

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