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2021 Guaranteed Rate Bowl -- West Virginia Mountaineers vs Minnesota Golden Gophers

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2021 Guaranteed Rate Bowl College Football Game

Minnesota Golden Gophers Game Plan No Secret In Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

By Charles Jay

The Minnesota Golden Gophers, representatives of the Big Ten, will clash with the West Virginia Mountaineers, from the Big 12, in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, which is scheduled for Tuesday night at 10:15 at Chase Field, which is normally home to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And, frankly, we are grateful to have some NCAA football betting with all of the bowl games that have been canceled already.

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NCAA Football Betting -- Here are the numbers....

At BetOnline, Minnesota is favored in this one:

Minnesota Golden Gophers -5.5 (-113)
West Virginia Mountaineers +5.5 (-107)

Over 44.5 Points -110
Under 44.5 Points -110

NCAA Football Betting -- Where they stand, and what they've done
Minnesota, coached by PJ Fleck, is 8-4, with a 7-4 record against the number. Their biggest wins have come over Purdue and Wisconsin. They were extremely competitive in their season opener against Ohio State, although they lost by 14 points. They have also lost to Iowa, and there are a couple of games they wish they had back, as they suffered defeats to Bowling Green and Illinois.

West Virginia is 6-6, both straight up and against the points, for third-year head coach Neil Brown. They lost to Maryland, which Minnesota defeated in Big Ten play, and also lost to Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas sState within their own Big 12 Conference. Their two biggest wins came over Iowa State and Texas, but we are not sure that's a heavy statement.

NCAA Football Betting -- West Virginia on offense

Quarterback Jared Doege, who transferred over from Bowling Green, was very credible this season, completing 65.4% of his passes and throwing for 2980 yards. The rushing attack was led by Leddie Brown, who had 1065 yards, but he is skipping this bowl game in the hopes of getting a look from the NFL. That's a big blow, because West Virginia did not have a lot of depth in the backfield.

We will say this — the Mountaineers have not lost any games during Brown's tenure in which they have topped 100 yards on the ground.

NCAA Football Betting -- Minnesota on defense

Of course, the problem for West Virginia is to reach 100 yards. Minnesota has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry this season, and has been so good across the defensive front that opponents have run only 29 times per game against them. That is the lowest figure in the country.

The Gophers have been pretty tough against the pass as well, allowing only 55.3% completions. That is seventh in the nation. Overall, the Gophers have allowed 284.8 yards per game, and that ranks them fourth best in the country.

So unquestionably there is a mountain to climb (pardon the pun) for the Mountaineers.

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NCAA Football Betting -- Minnesota on offense

This is a team that absolutely insists on running the football. Minnesota ran it 67.4% of the time this season, and that was the fourth highest rate among all FBS teams. The philosophy works, and you can tell that by the way they have been able to replace injured running backs Mo Ibrahim and Bryce Williams. And the guy who has really stepped up is freshman Ky Thomas, who had 680 yards. He is the head of a "committee" that doesn't have spectacular numbers (Minnesota averages just 4.3 ypc as a team), but keeps the chains moving and the clock ticking, which is just what they want. The Gophers are fourth best in tiome of possession among the 130 FBS teams.

You might call QB Tanner Morgan unproductive; after all, he only had ten TD passes and less than 200 passing yards. But he also averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, which means Minnesota benefited from the element of surprise when he threw it.

NCAA Football Betting -- West Virginia on defense

The Mountaineers would like to force Tanner to throw the ball a lo, and maybe they are equipped to do that. They have allowed just 4.1 yards per rush, and that isn't horrible. They also registered 78 tackles for losses. So maybe they shouldn't be sold short.

NCAA Football Betting -- A twist

Fleck hired his new offensive coordinator, Kirk Ciarocca, away from West Virginia. And it wasn't just for this game; that would be TOO much gamesmanship. No, Ciarocca was on the Minnesota staff from 2017-19 before he went to Penn State and then to the Mountaineers.

He'll work next season with Morgan, who'll be back for a sixth season. But he'll undoubtedly have some things to tell Fleck about this WVU team.

Ciarocca won't be coaching in this one; Matt Simon takes over play-calling after Mike Sanford was fired as the coordinator.

NCAA Football Betting -- Our play

Minnesota is going to do what it does, and they will do it enough to slow the game down and reduce the number of WVU possessions. That's what they want.

And the Mountaineers may be a little too one-dimensional to compete on even terms. We like Minnesota laying the points.

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Posted : 28/12/2021 9:02 pm

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