Nebraska vs. Minnesota kicks off this Thursday at 8:00pm EST in Minnesota as a home game for the Gophers. Minnesota is currently a -7.5 favorite and -285 on the moneyline while the total is set at 43.5. Read on for more Nebraska vs. Minnesota best bets and predictions as this game may be a low scoring slugfest.
Nebraska Vs. Minnesota Prediction & Best Bet
After coming up short in their division and missing out on the Big Ten conference championship last season, Minnesota now re-tools their offense with a new quarterback under center. Gone are the days of Tanner Morgan, who seemed like he would never leave, and now comes in Athan Kaliakmanis.
There are question marks for if he can lead this team down the field as Athan has issues in taking care of the ball. He finished his 2022 campaign throwing for three touchdowns and four interceptions. In an offense that relies on consistency over explosiveness, Athan’s turnover worthy throws will grind their momentum to a halt should he continue to struggle taking care of the ball.
Athan’s turnover issues lead me to believe the Gophers will continue to implement their game plan from last year and that plan involves abusing the run. Minnesota ran the ball at one of the highest rates in the nation last year and now brings in star transfer running back Sean Tyler. During his time at Western Michigan, Tyler ran for 2,830 yards and 23 touchdowns. He now gets the chance to run wild against a Nebraska defense that ranked 129th in Def Rush Success Rate.
With Minnesota’s tendency to abuse the run at one of the slowest rates in the nation, the under immediately stuck out for how this game should go. Minnesota runs at a snail’s pace, running 66.5 plays a game per TeamRankings. Like their pass attack, their ground game revolves around their ability to keep the chains moving instead of explosiveness.
While Nebraska didn’t do many things well last year, they did excel at limiting explosiveness by ranking top-20 in Def Rush Explosiveness. Factor in the new clock rules and this game should fly by with minimal big play gains.
Nebraska Vs. Minnesota Odds
Even under a new regime under center, oddsmakers still like the Gophers chances of starting their year off on the right foot by opening them as a -6.5 favorite. Bettors are under the same sentiment, taking Minnesota up to as high as -8 in some shops. With a run first mentality, Athan will have an easier time at settling in the offense. This helps limit early season mistakes, giving them higher quality possessions against a bottom ranked defense.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a slow pace as they opened the number at 46. Bettors have been quick to back the under, taking the number down to as low as 43.5 as of writing. While the Cornhuskers defense is less to be desired, their ability to negate Rush Explosiveness gives our under ticket a chance as the clock continues to drain.
Nebraska Vs. Minnesota Key Matchups
Will Minnesota struggle to contain Jeff Sims? Can Nebraska generate a rush against Minnesota’s new offensive line?
A New Face Under Center
After seeing his production dip for three years straight at Georgia Tech, Jeff Sims hit the transfer portal. He is a dual threat quarterback who can give opposing defenses fits with his ability to burn secondaries in the open field.
Matt Rhule has spoken highly of Georgia Tech transfer QB Jeff Sims this offseason calling him an “NFL player.”
He flashed potential with the Yellow Jackets, but had 30 TDs and 23 INTs through 3 seasons.
In year one of the Rhule-era, the Cornhuskers have plenty of questions… pic.twitter.com/U7s0DKjpb5
— Mercury (@CollegeSportsCo) August 18, 2023
Nebraska’s pass game was average at best last season, ranking 57th in Pass Success Rate. His ability to force opposing linebackers to sit in space allows his wideouts to take advantage of singular coverage. An interesting battle as the Gophers secondary ranked near top-20 in Def Pass Success Rate.
Nebraska Front Seven vs Minnesota’s O-line
A good offensive line complements the ground game by creating gaps at the line and generating a push back into the second level. That is exactly what Minnesota has built their offensive identity on, but now need to replace their interior big three.
Any sort of turnover in the starting lineup can create hiccups during a drive and that is exactly what Nebraska’s defense needs as they struggle to get opposing offenses off the field. With Minnesota relying on consistency over the big gain, Nebraska can drastically halt their offense by generating a rush in the middle. This disrupts their interior ground game as well as forcing the inconsistent Athan to scramble.