Minnesota (10-1) and Wisconsin (9-2) will be competing for Paul Bunyan’s Axe this Saturday. This will be the 129th meeting between the Gophers and Badgers. Not only are they competing for the Axe, they’re also competing to play in the Big Ten championship game. The winner will be heading to Indianapolis next week to take on Ohio State. Weather will be a factor this Saturday, as Minneapolis is expected to be hit with snow and strong winds this weekend, which will affect how these teams play. AS of writing this, 51 percent of the tickets are backing the Badgers, and 74 percent are taking the under.
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
There’s no confusion on how the Badgers move the football on offense. Jonathan Taylor is rock to this offense as he has rushed for 1,685 yards and averages 6.5 yards per carry. Wisconsin ranks ninth in rushing success, 10th in power success, and 11th in stuff rate. Minnesota doesn’t matchup well in either of those categories, and are completely mismatched by the Badgers offensive line. Quarterback Jack Coan is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football as they rank 14th in passing efficiency. However, given the weather that is expected on Saturday, he might not be used as much in the pass game. Badger fans shouldn’t be concerned as they have relied on Taylor’s production all season.
People have forgotten how good the Wisconsin defense is since their mid-season losses. They still rank ninth in efficiency, sixth in points per game, and eighth in yards per play. The Badgers have the edge over Minnesota’s rushing attack, and should be able to slow down Tanner Morgan. Wisconsin can limit an opponents pass game, and the explosive plays. Also, they rank second in the country in sack rate, and havoc created. If Morgan does drop back to pass, then the Badgers defensive line should be able to wreak havoc in the backfield. The Badgers have an edge over the Minnesota offense across the board. PJ Fleck is going to need to create some magic if they want to move the football.
Tanner Morgan has been one of the big surprises at quarterback this year as he’s thrown for 2,679 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was a big reason for their upset win over Penn State a few weeks ago. Their offense this week is at a big disadvantage. They do rely on Morgan to move the ball through the air, but with a winter storm warning looming over Minneapolis this weekend, it could cause problems for Morgan. Minnesota is at a disadvantage on the line this week, as they Badgers line exceeds them in most categories. They also rank 102nd in sack rate, so if they do drop back to pass, Morgan might not have much time. The Gophers are going to need to find ways to move the ball on the ground if they want a chance.
Minnesota’s defense ranks 47th in success rate. If the Gophers can slow down Jonathan Taylor, then they’ll have a chance to win, but that’s easier said than done. Their defense is great at stopping explosive plays, but that isn’t Wisconsin’s forte. They’re going to slowly drive the ball downfield, and Minnesota could struggle to defend it. Their defensive line ranks 123rd in power success and 113th in stuff rate, so this will give a huge advantage to Wisconsin’s running game. Minnesota has held opponents to 118.8 rushing yards per game, but Wisconsin averaging 251.2 yards per game is a different beast. This matchup is what will decide this game.
Betting Pick: Wisconsin -2.5
Wisconsin should edge out Minnesota on Saturday. There is a winter storm warning for Minnesota all day Saturday, and winds should be between 15-20 miles per hour during the game. This will be mostly a ground and pound game, which give the Badgers a huge edge over the Gophers. Wisconsin has the edge in the trenched on both sides of the ball, and will most likely dictate the game. Minnesota doesn’t really have an answer for what Jonathan Taylor will be able to do against their defense. Also, expect a typical low-scoring game in Minneapolis with Wisconsin going to the Big Ten championship game.