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How and what to watch for Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe is back on. Can Minnesota take it back from Wisconsin?

Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan is helped up by teammates after being tackled against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten failed its teams on a variety of levels this season, but the conference made some sense this weekend. Instead of its plan to have teams play opposite division opponents on Champions Week, they scrapped that and just said let’s give the people what they want and for some people, they want Wisconsin against Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

What a season it’s been for Wisconsin. The Badgers came out and hit the 40s in two blowout wins to start the season before the offense completely fell apart and hasn’t scored more than seven points in any of their last three games to fall to 2-3. Minnesota has a very bad defense but with injuries to key skill position players, I’m not sure where the Badgers finally find an offense. On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin ranks No. 7 in the country in yards per play allowed.

Minnesota is 3-3 this season, and its defense has been a major failure. The Gophers rank ahead of Vanderbilt and Akron in yards per play allowed. That’s it. Offensively, Minnesota is just about average this season. The Gophers have played just one game since Nov. 20, and it was a 24-17 road victory over Nebraska last Saturday.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Minnesota vs. Wisconsin on Saturday, December 19th at 4:00 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network, or you can stream it via the Fox Sports Go app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin -12.5
Point Total: 47.5
Money line: Minnesota +350, Wisconsin -480

  • Wisconsin is 2-5 straight up in its last seven games overall, and Minnesota is 7-2 straight up in its last nine road games.
  • The over hit in 16 of the last 20 meetings between these two teams.
  • Wisconsin won 15 of the last 16 matchups in this series.

Betting splits

Minnesota: (57% of handle, 66% percent of bets)
Wisconsin: (43% of handle, 34% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

I’m not sure if this is against the rules or not, so don’t go and inform my bosses, but I’m giving out two best bets for this game. Both of them have to do with how bad the Wisconsin offense has been. The Badgers haven’t scored in double digits in any of their last three games and oddsmakers expect them to win a rivalry game by 12 points? As bad as Wisconsin’s offense is, its defense is among the best in the sport, but the over/under is set at 47.5? We’re going Minnesota to cover this number and cheering against points, which is pretty easy to do when Wisconsin takes the field on both sides of the ball.

Pick: Minnesota +12.5, Under 47.5

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