Minnesota vs Wisconsin Odds, Picks and Predictions: Things Stay Quiet in the First Half

Minnesota and Wisconsin will add another chapter to their historic rivalry, but which side will come out on top this time? Our college football picks will be avoiding a side bet, and instead will be focusing on the first-half total— find out why below!

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2022 8:00 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
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With all due respect to the Iron Bowl, to Army-Navy, to Notre Dame-USC, there is only one Paul Bunyan’s Axe. No FBS opponents have met more times than the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers — having played quite literally every year since 1890 except for 1906.

After the Badgers won 14 straight from 2004 to 2017, the Gophers have restored some competitiveness to the border battle, splitting the last four games.

Here are our free college football betting picks and predictions for Minnesota vs Wisconsin on November 26.

Minnesota vs Wisconsin best odds

Minnesota vs Wisconsin picks and predictions

The Big Ten West is gonna Big Ten West.

After Minnesota started the season explosively, scoring 34 or more points in each of its first four games, things fell apart miserably. The Gophers have averaged just 19 points in their last seven games. Remove 31-point showings against Rutgers and Northwestern — those should be pretty self-explanatory — and that average plummets to 14.2 points per game across five games.

Some of that was due to quarterback Tanner Morgan suffering a concussion. Some of it tied to running back Mo Ibrahim battling his own lower-leg injury. But most of it was just the Big Ten West being the Big Ten West.

The Gophers’ last four games have all gone Under their totals, even last week against Iowa when the total was merely 31.5 points.

All of that can be said for Wisconsin, too, though not as dramatically. The Badgers did not start off the year as impressively, which obviously played a key role in Paul Chryst’s dismissal. But Wisconsin’s offense has not kicked into high gear since Jim Leonhard took over.

In their last three games, the Badgers have averaged 16 points. Yet, they won two of them.

Those recent sample sizes — four games from Minnesota and three from Wisconsin — underscore these offensive troubles. All seven of them went Under their totals, even with two of them lower than this 36. But more pointedly, their first halves plodded.

Only one of those seven first halves saw more than 17 points, and that required an Iowa defensive touchdown.

A second half in a rivalry game may get odd. Exhibit A: the 16-point fourth quarter in Thursday night’s Egg Bowl.

But betting on these offenses to start slow fits in with all of their recent trends as well as common rivalry coaching, a conservative approach leading to later tense moments. That has been the M.O. in this series of late, as well. The Gophers and Badgers have split their last four games, and three of those four first halves featured 17 or fewer points. The exception required a punt return touchdown to top that low tally.

My best bet: First half Under 17.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

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Minnesota vs Wisconsin spread analysis

Wisconsin is required to list its head coaching job for all applicants for a full week. It stood out, then, the Badgers officially listed the vacancy last weekend. Timing-wise, if Wisconsin wins back the Axe, it could quickly be followed by an official announcement that Leonhard has been promoted from interim head coach to full-time.

The Badgers probably do not need added motivation in this rivalry, a genuine one given the two rosters boast a combined 91 players from either Minnesota or Wisconsin, but Leonhard’s pending promotion may provide it.

The spread has thus ticked up to a field goal in favor of the Badgers after opening at -2. A tense game that could come down to a last-minute coaching decision, maybe the money line is preferable if thinking about betting on Wisconsin.

Minnesota vs Wisconsin Over/Under analysis

That best bet on the first half Under is entirely separate from the full game thoughts, or at least as much as a first-half bet can be from the game as a whole. In this scenario, it just feels much more likely the first half goes Under 17.5 than the game does 36, even if both are more likely than not.

Pressure-packed scores will not dial up the first-half tally, but they might in the fourth quarter.

That said, both offenses are so dependent on star running backs, it is hard to envision any successful two-minute drill.

Minnesota vs Wisconsin betting trend to know

The Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Find more NCAA betting trends for Minnesota vs. Wisconsin.

Minnesota vs Wisconsin game info

Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
Date: Saturday, November 26, 2022
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

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