Thursday Night College Football: Nebraska At Minnesota Week 1 Betting Preview

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
nebraska at minnesota odds

Enough of the appetizers. This Saturday, we get the full entree. College football returns this weekend beginning Thursday, where the Nebraska Cornhuskers square off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The best college football betting sites line Minnesota as a home favorite while visiting Nebraska is a underdog on moneyline odds. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on FOX from Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

This preseason, the market favored Minnesota, bumping them up from a -6 favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook’s opening college football odds. However, not all of the value has been drained from this line just yet. Let’s dive into why that may be.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers Odds

Compare Nebraska at Minnesota odds from the best sports betting sites below. Click on odds anywhere in this post to bet on the game.

Nebraska at Minnesota Quick Look

1.74 (96th)PPD (2022)2.43 (50th)
2.43 (96th)PPD/A (2022)1.39 (8th)
5.1 (88th)YPP (2022)5.5 (54th)
5.5 (64th)YPP/A (2022)4.9 (28th)
1-5Big Ten West (2022)3-3

Table Key: Power (TheLines aggregate power rating); KFord (KFord Power Rating); PPD (Points per drive); PPD/A (Points per drive allowed); YPP (Yards per play) YPP/A (Yards per play allowed)

Minnesota Preview

For the first time since 2018, the Golden Gophers will have a new face begin the season at quarterback. Redshirt sophomore Athan Kaliakamanis suits up after making six starts last season. He works with a revamped receiving room, led by Charlotte transfer and Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year Elijah Spencer. Western Michigan transfers Sean Tyler (1,000-yard rusher in 2022) and Cory Crooms (57-814-5) also transfer to Minneapolis.

Up front is where the Gophers need to rebuild. They lose All-America center John Michael-Schmitz to the NFL and return just 15 starts from players on the team last year – Aireontae Ersery, Nathan Boe, and All-Big Ten selection Quinn Carroll. However, two of the projected starters are sophomores, so the unit will need time to gel.

Defensively again is where Minnesota hangs its hat. According to Kelley Ford’s KFord Power Ratings, the Gophers project for a top-10 defense nationally. Safety Tyler Nubin returns after earning All-Big Ten honors last year alongside five other starters. Although the Big Ten West is far from an offensive powerhouse division, Minnesota allowed no more than 20 points in a game against divisional opponents last season.

The Golden Gophers defense finished top 10 in points per drive and rush EPA, and 13th in total EPA per play in 2022.

Nebraska Preview

The Scott Frost era ended as one of the biggest disappointments in modern college football. The Huskers have hired Matt Rhule, a proven coach with a track record of turning programs around quickly. While the Rhule hire was widely lauded, his choice at offensive coordinator was not. Nebraska hired Marcus Satterfield from South Carolina, who promises to huddle before plays and utilize heavier packages with multiple tight ends and fullbacks. Although Satterfield may fit into the Big Ten West, his slower-paced offense promises plenty of low totals and fewer scoring opportunities.

Gone is Casey Thompson, instead Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims gets the start this season. Already, Sims’ skill corps are thin. Georgia transfer Arik Gilbert was awaiting a ruling on his NCAA eligibility when he was arrested on burglary charges just before the season began. Running back Anthony Grant was suspended from the team for the season and third down back Rahmir Johnson will not play in Thursday’s game due to an injury. Top receiver Marcus Washington will play, but he dealt with a hand injury in camp.

Defensively, Nebraska has more promise. They hired on Syracuse’s Tony White and brought in key transfers like linebacker MJ Sherman (Georgia) and safety Corey Collier (Florida). Ford projects Nebraska to field a top-50 defense nationally.

Week 1: Nebraska at Minnesota Preview

Minnesota took most of the market’s attention this offseason, although there was buy-back closer to the start of the year. The Gophers climbed to as high as -8 home favorites in July. Then the buy on the under began and Minnesota fell back to -7 favorites after Week 0. Some combination of reaction from the new clock rules and the expectation that neither team will field a dynamic offense crashed the total from 46.5 to its current line.

Injury curbed Sims’ 2022 season early in Atlanta. However, he posted the single-lowest EPA among QBs (min. 100 snaps) in his limited time. He managed just five touchdowns on 188 attempts (2.7% TD rate!) and rushed for a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Perhaps the more conservative offense under Satterfield will help protect him and improve his numbers, although it’s admittedly a strange fit.

If there’s a game for Sims to rejuvenate and find his playmaking ability again, this game probably isn’t it. During the regular season, the Gophers didn’t allow 15 or more rushing yards to any opposing quarterback, although Syracuse’s Garrett Schrader found 38 yards and a pair of scores on the ground in the Pinstripe Bowl.

According to Phil Steele, Nebraska comes into 2023 with the 11th-ranked defensive line unit and 10th-ranked linebacking corps in the Big Ten. I fully expect Minnesota to line up and successfully run the ball on Nebraska’s front.

Fading Change Early

Not just is Nebraska changing their entire offensive system, but their defensive system, too. Last year, they ran a traditional 4-3 front. This season, White brings a complex 3-3-5 system that utilizes multiple fronts and coverages. While it works eventually, its implementation takes time. In his first year with Syracuse (2020), the Orange finished 88th in points per drive allowed; by Year 3, they improved 27 spots to 61st.

Out of the gate, the Huskers will be dealing with a lot of new – a new head coach, program culture, two new systems, and a new quarterback.

I’ll be fading Nebraska as long as the Huskers are feeling out the new.

KFord Rating Nebraska at Minnesota assessment

Find Kelley Ford’s work here at TheLines all college football season long!

I have Minnesota rated No. 32 overall, with the No. 10 projected defense in the country. Despite being 10th nationally in defense, that’s good enough for only third-best in the Big Ten West. They also have the No. 52 projected defense, which is also third-best in the Big Ten West. Nebraska is power rated No. 51, with the No. 48 projected defense and the No. 68 projected offense.

I expect a very even matchup between the Nebraska defense and Minnesota offense. The difference for me is the No. 10 Minnesota defense against the No. 68 Nebraska offense, not to mention the home field advantage for the Gophers.

Bottom line, my numbers have Minnesota -7 at home, which equates to a 70% win expectancy for the Gophers.

Kelley Ford

Nebraska at Minnesota Odds: Best Bets

Since this number sits on one of the biggest key numbers in football betting (-7), bettors for this game are especially wise to shop for the best line. Historically, 14% of college football games end with a seven-point differential. Although the best number is likely gone, -7 represents a 14% move. Should -6.5 flash again, Minnesta backers might be savvy to grab that number. Should the number climb back to +7.5, that would be Nebraska backers’ best opportunity to bet the Huskers.

I don’t anticipate Minnesota falling shorter than their current -7 favorite number. So, I grabbed Minnesota -7 for this game.

My aggregated power ratings make the Gophers -8 favorites. Although just a one-point difference, that -7 key figure makes -8 an 18% difference between the two numbers. As Kelley mentioned, Minnesota’s defense is the vastly superior unit in this game, fully capable of applying the breaks to the new Nebraska offense under Satterfield. Early in the season, I’ll be fading the Huskers.

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