Can the Golden Gophers Prove they’re for Real Against Penn State?

By in NCAAF on

On Saturday, November 9th, a surprising matchup of two unbeaten teams will highlight Big Ten play this weekend as the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Minneapolis, MN, to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. At the beginning of the year, nobody would’ve predicted that these two teams would be undefeated at this point in the season.

The 5th ranked Nittany Lions have flexed their muscles on both sides of the ball with a strong offense and one of the conference’s best defenses. The Golden Gophers feature a balanced attack on offense and have quietly climbed up to 13th in the country.

However, there are plenty of critics questioning how legit the Golden Gophers are. This will be their first real test of the season. Can Minnesota prove their legitimacy by knocking off Penn State? Kickoff inside TCF Bank Stadium is at 12 PM ET.

Penn State vs Minnesota Betting Preview

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Money Lines Totals
Penn State Nittany Lions -6.5 (-110) -250 Over 47 (-108)
Minnesota Golden Gophers +6.5 (-110) +210 Under 47 (-112)

Penn State and Minnesota have played against each other just 14 times. The Nittany Lions hold the advantage with a 9-5 record. The last time these two teams faced each other was in 2016 and Penn State edged out Minnesota at home by a score of 29 to 26.

The last time these teams played in Minneapolis was in 2013 and the Golden Gophers won 24 to 10. Penn State is 5-1 in the last six head to head meetings. The Golden Gophers are 3-4 all-time at home against the Nittany Lions.

Head to Head Betting Trends

The following trends are for the last 10 head to head meetings:

  • Minnesota is 5-4-1 ATS over the last 10 meetings.
  • The Over/Under is even at 5-5.
  • Penn State is 2-4 ATS in their last six games at Minnesota.

Penn State Nittany Lions Betting Trends

  • Penn State is 8-0 SU in their last eight games.
  • PSU is 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points.
  • PSU is 10-1 SU and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 games as a road favorite.
  • PSU is 4-0 ATS as a road favorite of 3.5 to 7 points.
  • The Under is 5-0 in PSU’s last five road games.
  • The Under is 4-1 in Penn State’s last five November games.

Minnesota Golden Gophers Betting Trends

  • Minnesota is 5-0 ATS in their last five games.
  • Minnesota is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games.
  • Minnesota is 6-0 ATS in their last six Big Ten games.
  • Minnesota is 2-4 ATS when an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points.
  • Minnesota is 3-5 SU and 3-5 ATS in their last eight November games.
  • The Under is 4-1 in their last five November games.
  • The Under is 9-4 in their last 13 Week 11 games.

Free Big Ten Betting Prediction: Penn State -6.5 points (-110)

The Golden Gophers have had a nice season so far, but we have to take a serious look at the teams they have played this year. It does make a huge difference in whether or not you believe Minnesota is for real.

In out of conference play, the Golden Gophers defeated South Dakota State, Georgia Southern and Fresno State. None of those teams will be mistaken for a tough opponent. But, things get worse for Minnesota’s 5-0 conference record.

The Golden Gophers have an inflated Big Ten record as they defeated the worse teams in the conference: Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland. Those five teams have a combined conference record of 8-24.

In comparison, Penn State played against Buffalo and Pitt in their out of conference schedule. In Big Ten play, they have already defeated a ranked Iowa, a ranked Michigan, and a tough Michigan State team. Two of those three games were on the road. These three teams have a combined record of 9-7.

Add Purdue and Maryland to the PSU record, and they’ve faced opponents with a combined Big Ten record of 12-16.

The PSU Defense Will Be Key to Victory

Penn State is the toughest challenge for Minnesota so far. The Nittany Lion defense is going to be very difficult for the Golden Gophers to have success against as they’re arguably the best in the Big Ten.

Penn State is only allowing 9.6 ppg on the season. In Big Ten play, they’re allowing just 9.4 ppg. PSU has held opponents to 13 points or less in seven of their eight games this season. Only Michigan has scored more than 13 points. However, PSU was up 28-14 halfway through the 4th quarter and allowed a late TD to close the gap to 28-21.

The PSU rush defense is one of the best in the nation as they only allow 68.4 ypg. Minnesota averages 204.5 rushing ypg. This will be a huge factor on Saturday. If Minnesota gets behind in the chains then that aggressive PSU defense will bring the pressure and force turnovers or get sacks.

PSU Will Score a Lot of Points, Minnesota Won’t

In addition to the huge advantage that PSU has on defense, their offense is very dangerous as well. Keep in mind, they put up 73 total points against three of the Big Ten’s top defenses in Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State.

Quarterback Sean Clifford has thrown for 1,931 yards, 20 TDs, and just 3 INTs. He has a solid running game to lean on as well with three running backs that all contribute to the offense. Noah Cain is the team’s sledgehammer as he typically wears down defenses and punishes them late in the games.

Perhaps, the most electric player on either team is PSU’s playmaker KJ Hamler. Not only is he a dangerous receiver with 620 receiving yards and 8 touchdown grabs, he’s also one of the most explosive returners in the league. Hamler is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

PSU just has too much firepower on both sides of the ball for Minnesota to handle. I expect the Penn State defense to shutdown Minnesota as the PSU offense eventually pulls away. Even if the Nittany Lions start off slow on offense their defense will never let them get down by too many points.

Like at Iowa, PSU’s offense will wake up and make plays. Clifford has proven to be a winning QB who can lead the offense in pressure packed moments. I’m taking Penn State to win by more than a touchdown and possibly blow out the Golden Gophers this Saturday.

Will the real Minnesota Golden Gophers please stand up?

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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