After a fantastic victory over in-state rival the Michigan Wolverines, the Michigan State Spartans head out on the road to battle against a feisty Minnesota Golden Gophers team. The #21 ranked Spartans look to continue their ascension in the conference and the AP Top 25, while the Golden Gophers are hoping to break their 2 game losing streak. Kickoff inside TCF Bank Stadium is at 8 PM ET.
The Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big 10) went into Ann Arbor last weekend and soundly defeated their bitter rival the Michigan Wolverines 14-10. It was an impressive defensive performance that saw the Spartans hold Michigan to 300 total yards and force 5 turnovers. This week they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who they have beaten 4 straight times. MSU last lost to the Golden Gophers in 2009. Can the Spartans continue their Big-10 success this week against a solid Minnesota team?
The Golden Gophers (3-2, 0-2 Big 10) started off the season 3-0. But, since they began conference play, Minnesota has dropped two straight. Surprisingly, they have lost to two teams that they were supposed to beat: Purdue and Maryland. The Golden Gophers are going to be in for a fight this weekend as they take on a very good MSU team with one of the conference’s best defenses.
The spread opened at +4 for Minnesota and it has remained unchanged. The Over/Under has also remained unchanged at 40.5 total points.
The Michigan State Spartans come into this game riding an emotional high. For some teams, this is a bad thing as they end up losing. But, for the Spartans, I don’t see this being a problem since they are well coached and a disciplined program.
MSU’s only loss on the season was against Notre Dame 3 weeks ago. Despite their one loss, MSU has some impressive wins on the season so far: Michigan, Iowa and Western Michigan. They bring into this weekend’s game one of the best defenses in the conference that only allows 16 points per game, 258 total yards per game and just 97 rushing yards per game. This defense held Michigan, Iowa and Western Michigan to 14 points or less. Other than Notre Dame, nobody has scored more than 14 points against the Spartans. I don’t see Minnesota accomplishing this either.
The Golden Gophers had a pretty easy non-conference schedule as they beat Buffalo, Oregon State and Middle Tennessee. They loaded up their stats during that cupcake portion of their schedule. Since they started playing Big 10 games, they have lost the last two weeks and only average 20.5 points per game.
Minnesota averages 190 rushing yards per game, which is their main weapon on offense. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this weekend against a stout MSU run defense. Minnesota quarterback Conor Rhoda will be forced to make plays against a solid MSU pass defense, and that doesn’t look good for the Golden Gophers. Rhoda has only 786 passing yards in 5 games and has thrown 4 interceptions to 5 touchdowns. I honestly don’t see this Golden Gophers team being able to move the ball against the Spartans.
For the MSU offense, Brian Lewerke is the field general and he will lead this team to victory. His favorite target Fred Davis III should have a big game against the Golden Gophers this week. Lewerke will make plays from the pocket and run all over Minnesota when he gets the chance. The Golden Gophers won’t be able to stop Lewerke this week.
MSU is 4-1 ATS this season. They’re also 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games after a win against a conference opponent, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Big Ten games, and 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games against a team with a winning record. Minnesota is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games. The Road Team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 head-to-head meetings.
MSU has won 4 straight against Minnesota and I expect it to be 5 straight after this weekend. I’m actually surprised at how low the spread is considering how much better MSU is than Minnesota. I expect this defense to force at least 2 turnovers this weekend and hold the Golden Gophers to 14 points or less. Look for Lewerke to move the MSU offense up and down the field as they put up more points than their season average of 22 ppg. I see this game being a route due to the strong defensive performance by the Spartans. MSU 27 – Minn 9