B1G Bets: Quick Lane Bowl Preview & Pick Minnesota vs. Bowling Green


Dec 25, 2023

Despite a 5-7 season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are one of nine Big Ten teams going bowling, and on December 26, they look to capture the conference’s second bowl victory following Northwestern’s 14-7 upset over Utah on Saturday. The Gophers will take on the Bowling Green Falcons out of the MAC in the Quick Lane Bowl.B1GBets Big Ten 2023 Season

Record: 49-27-1 overall (+24.5 units) | ATS: 28-14-1 | Team Totals: 16-12 | Game Totals: 5-1

B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units): Season: 6-1 (+7.5 Units)

B1GGER Bets (1 Units): Season: 24-7 (+17 Units)

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit): 19-19-1 (Even)

Scared money, don’t make money. Let’s eat!

Quick Lane Bowl Preview: Minnesota vs. Bowling Green

Money Line: Minnesota -172 | Bowling Green +142 | Total: 39.5

Time: 2:00 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN | Location: Ford Field | Detroit, MI

Minnesota: CFP: NR | SP+: 1 | PFF: 43

Bowling Green: CFP: NR | SP+: 84 | PFF: 78

Minnesota -3.5 Bowling Green (Consensus)

The Gophers will be without starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (transfer portal), but is that really that much of a bad thing? He completed just 53.1 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per pass with nine interceptions. Minnesota finished 125th in passing offense and 123rd in pass attempts with him. How much worse can they be without him?

Stepping in will be senior Cole Kramer, who has done more rushing than passing when he’s seen the field as a Gopher.

Minnesota ranked a solid 48th in rushing success rate, and if they can run every play, P.J. Fleck will have a big smile on his face at the end of the game.

There’s no reason to expect they won’t be able to. Bowling Green’s defense is ranked 105th in rushing success rate and 80th in EPA per rush. That’s against a MAC schedule. Even in a down season, the Gophers have big boys up front and the ability to run the ball.

It would be a significant boost if leading rusher and freshman sensation Darius Taylor (5.7 yards per carry) returns. Taylor has rushed for at least 138 yards in three of the four games this season (not counting one carry vs. Nebraska). There’s a decent chance he will play; if not, the Gophers have several experienced options in the backfield.

Minnesota’s defense has taken a step back this season, but they can still hang depending on the opponent. Against the worst five offenses they faced this season, they’ve held their opponent to 12 points or less four times. Take out the anomaly against Northwestern, and the Gophers held Eastern Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan State to an average of 9.5 PPG.

The Falcons are 109th in offensive EPA and 80th in offensive success rate. The type of offense that is Minnesota’s speed.

The Gophers also have a considerable edge in special teams, ranked 19th nationally by SP+, compared to Bowling Green, near the bottom at 125th.

Finally, we have the motivation factor, and while you might typically side with the MAC team being more motivated to upset a Big Ten opponent, this isn’t a typical matchup.

Bowling Green has more critical players in the transfer portal, with their All-MAC CB Jalen Huskey (committed to Maryland), edge rusher Cashius Howell (MAC-leading 9.5 sacks), running back Ta’ron Keith (second-leading rusher and receiver), and backup CB Deshawn Jones Jr. all in the portal. Keith’s departure hurts as leading rusher Terion Stewart isn’t expected to play due to injury.

Fleck knows how to motivate his team, and so many players, such as breakout freshman Taylor, are returning for 2024, which bodes well for their buy-in. In his seventh season as Gophers headman, Fleck is 4-0 in bowl games.

Sure, they went 5-7, but that should mean they won’t take Bowling Green lightly after losing their final four games. They didn’t have to accept the bowl bid and will look to turn the page on what was a disappointing regular season. There is no reason to expect Minnesota won’t show up. This game is expected to be a rock fight between teams who want to run the football…so give me the Big Ten team against the MAC every time.

Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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