NCAA Football Odds and Predictions: Western Michigan at Minnesota
Thursday, September 13, 2012
by Frank Martin
Beating up on an FCS opponent barely merits mention for most major college football programs, but it was a cause for celebration for Minnesota Golden Gophers, whose 44-7 thrashing of New Hampshire last week ended a two-year losing streak against foes from college football's lower division.
The Golden Gophers can match their win total from each of the past two seasons when they host Western Michigan Broncos of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday.
It will be the second consecutive foray into Big Ten territory for the Broncos, who struggled offensively in a season-opening 24-7 loss at Illinois.
Western Michigan Broncos (1-1): It's hard to get a true gauge on the Broncos' offense, which floundered against Illinois before rolling up 631 yards of offense in a 52-21 romp over Eastern Illinois - the alma mater of Tony Romo. Alex Carder rebounded from a three-interception performance to throw for 364 yards and five touchdowns, including four in a 28-point, game-breaking second quarter. Wide receiver Jaime Wilson, a true freshman, had a monster performance, hauling in 11 receptions for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns to give him 19 catches on the season.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-0): The FCS has been a minefield for the Gophers, so such a convincing victory over New Hampshire was uplifting following a wobbly effort in a three-overtime victory over Nevada-Las Vegas in the season opener. Minnesota also got a big game from its quarterback as MarQueis Gray accounted for four touchdowns - two passing and two rushing - in the first half alone. Gray amassed more yards on the ground (109) than through the air (100), attempting only eight passes. Defensive tackle RaShede Hageman had a pair of sacks last week and has eclipsed last season's total of two.
1. Minnesota hasn't started 3-0 since winning its first four games in 2008.
2. Western Michigan rushed for 229 yards last week after being limited to minus-6 yards in its opener.
3. The Golden Gophers are 26-4-1 against MAC opponents and 3-0 all time vs. the Broncos, but the schools haven't played since 1977.
NCAA Football Prediction: Minnesota 27, Western Michigan 24.
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