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Minnesota vs West Virginia Guaranteed Rate Bowl Picks & Predictions

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 5 mins

Minnesota vs West Virginia Guaranteed Rate Bowl Picks & Predictions

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Minnesota’s stout defense will face off against West Virginia’s pass-happy offense when the two teams meet under the roof of Chase Field in Phoenix in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 28.

Both the Gophers and Mountaineers have endured terribly uneven seasons, with Minnesota’s 8-4 mark marred by head-scratching losses to Bowling Green and Illinois, while 6-6 West Virginia beat only one team that finished with an over-.500 record. And yet both squads entered bowl season with some momentum after winning their last two games.

The Gophers, who closed the regular season with a quality victory over Wisconsin, are favored. The 10 p.m. ET start will offer a late-night college football betting option on the Wednesday after Christmas. This will be the first bowl game in the Grand Canyon State since Arizona sports betting went live.

Odds subject to change.

Minnesota vs West Virginia Key Matchups

Jarret Doege vs. Tyler Nubin: West Virginia’s quarterback is the third-leading passer in the Big 12, with 2,796 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’ll face a secondary powered by Nubin, a safety who leads all Gophers with three interceptions.

West Virginia’s offensive line against Boye Mafe: The senior defensive lineman is the standout of the Minnesota defense, leading the team with six sacks and nine tackles for loss. He’ll face a vulnerable ’Neers OL that’s given up 33 sacks.

Minnesota’s front seven against Leddie Brown: A 1,000-yard rusher who’s also averaging 6 yards per catch, Brown is a nice complement to WVU’s passing game who can burn opposing defenses if left open.

RELATED: College Football Bowl Games Ultimate Betting Guide

5 Key Minnesota vs West Virginia Stats

9-11: West Virginia’s record against the spread as an underdog in three seasons under coach Neal Brown.

2-0: Minnesota’s record against the spread in bowl games under coach P.J. Fleck.

100.2: Average rushing yards per game allowed by Minnesota’s defense, the program’s lowest since 1962.

4-1: Minnesota’s overall record this season in games away from Minneapolis, the lone loss coming at Iowa .

5-11: West Virginia’s overall record in games outside Morgantown in three years under Brown.

Minnesota vs West Virginia Moneyline

Minnesota is a -170 moneyline favorite, according to sportsbooks, while West Virginia is a +150 underdog. While those Minnesota losses to Bowling Green and Illinois are tough to figure, the Gophers’ defense has been a mainstay even in those upsets, where they were beaten despite allowing a total of 28 points.

Although injuries have decimated Minnesota at running back and QB Tanner Morgan throws too many interceptions, the Big Ten’s second-best defense has been solid. That leads us toward the favorite against a highly inconsistent WVU team whose coach is on the hot seat, and to pass on these college football odds altogether.

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Minnesota vs West Virginia Point Spread

Minnesota is a 4-point favorite, according to betting sites. Minnesota covered in six of its last eight regular-season games, West Virginia one of its last four. For all the Mountaineers’ individual talent, WVU’s offense still ranked eighth in the Big 12, and Doege’s pass efficiency numbers were near the bottom.

Minnesota is hardly loaded with explosive skill position players, and it’s hard to name a Gophers star on either side of the ball. But over its last six games, the Ski U Mah defense is allowing just 12.5 points per outing. It’s the one steady unit on either team, and why we’re backing the Gophers to cover the number.

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Minnesota vs West Virginia Totals

The total is 45, according to betting apps. Did we mention Minnesota’s defense is pretty good? The Gophers went under the total in six of their final 10 games of the regular season, the exception typically being contests when that Jekyll-and-Hyde offense put up lots of points. West Virginia’s offense has gone into hibernation against some better teams, managing just three points against Oklahoma State, 17 against Kansas State and 20 against Baylor.

It may be the lowest total the Mountaineers have faced all season, but our faith in Minnesota’s dependable D leads us to lean toward the under in our college football picks.

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About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.