Being able to secure a bowl-game bid is a massive deal for college football programs. While the ultimate goal is to make the playoffs and potentially win the National Championship, playing in a bowl game in late December or early January is beneficial for colleges.
In the Guaranteed Rate Bowl that is played at Chase Field, the Minnesota Gophers will face the West Virginia Mountaineers. Minnesota comes into this game with an 8-4 record, while West Virginia finished at 6-6.
Which team will emerge victorious in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl this year? Keep reading below to discover my predictions and best bets for the upcoming tilt between Minnesota and West Virginia.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and updated as of 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 9.
Minnesota vs West Virginia Prediction
Minnesota is led by senior quarterback Tanner Morgan on offense, who struggled to the tune of 1,935 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions this season.
While the aerial attack has been unreliable, the Gophers have been able to gash defenses on the ground despite losing running backs Mohamed Ibrahim and Treyson Potts.
Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving have shared the backfield, combining for 1,250 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns this season. Even though we’ve seen West Virginia defenses perform well against the run in previous years, they’re a middling defense this year against the run, allowing 129.9 yards per game.
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West Virginia is another team that would prefer to lean on their ground game. Leddie Brown, the starting running back for the Mountaineers, scampered for 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Minnesota has the edge on defense, where they limited opposing teams to only 284.9 yards per game (184.7 passing, 100.2 rushing) — the fourth-best in the nation.
This could be a defensive game between Minnesota and West Virginia, with the Gophers having the edge over their Big 12 opponent.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl Prediction: Minnesota 30, West Virginia 20
Guaranteed Rate Bowl Best Bets
CFB Betting Record: 13-5-0
Best Bet: Minnesota -4 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
P.J. Fleck has Minnesota playing inspired football in recent weeks, defeating two Big Ten foes by double-digits in their last two games. A heavy rushing attack with stout defense has become a recipe for success for Fleck’s squad to end the season.
While West Virginia is also coming into this game with two straight wins over conference opponents, the Gophers have the edge in this matchup. Minnesota has a 7-4-1 record against the spread this season while going 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games.
As for the Mountaineers, they are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games, and they hold an 0-9 record against the spread in their last nine games played in December.
Back Minnesota with your NCAAF bet of the day.
Best Bet: Over 45 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
I’m not overly confident that these teams can reach the Over of 45 points, but I believe Minnesota can score 20+ points themselves on the ground alone. There will be a lot of running in this game, which will keep the clock moving and the number of big plays that could take place.
Neither of these teams had a record of over .500 when it came to hitting the Over this season. Minnesota was 6-6, while West Virginia was 5-7.
I believe we see Minnesota deploy a safe game plan to prevent Morgan from shouldering too much through the air. And with West Virginia’s defense not being as strong as previous years, the Gophers do enough on the ground to get us to 45 total points.
West Virginia will have to put the ball in the air more down the stretch, but I’d only bet a half a unit on the Over as this could be a low-scoring affair.
Thanks for reading our Guaranteed Rate Bowl Predictions & Best Bets! For more CFB betting tips, check out our CFB Pick of the Day.