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Minnesota Football Game Predictions: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Predictions and probabilities for the Gophers versus Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Also, whiskey!

Mark Runnacles

So far, so good. Nothing has blown up yet, but that means I'm not trying hard enough!


The final Vegas Insider line for last week's game settled in at -17, which either confirmed your suspicions of Eastern Illinois' strength as an FCS team or it didn't. Remember, some offshores opened the game at -26.5. That too feels right on the money given the absolute garbage time nature of EIU's last touchdown that dropped the final margin from 28 to 22. Doesn't matter for modeling purposes since I went conservative and picked -17, more food for thought.

Transitioning, let's do some rankings because why should pollsters and the playoff committee be the only ones to produce a way too early and non-contextual top 25!

Rank Team Log5Prob Change
1 Florida State .945 0
2 Baylor .900 3
3 Alabama .896 -1
4 Oregon .892 -1
5 Auburn .889 1
6 UCLA .864 -2
7 Stanford .859 2
8 Michigan State .855 3
9 USC .855 7
10 LSU .850 4
11 Mississippi .844 7
12 Georgia .842 9
13 Ohio State .842 0
14 Wisconsin .839 -4
15 Oklahoma State .834 4
16 Texas .833 4
17 Texas A&M .828 9
18 Oklahoma .828 -1
19 Mississippi State .828 5
20 Michigan .827 3
21 Arizona State .824 -14
22 Florida .811 0
23 Arizona .810 7
24 Notre Dame .802 7
25 BYU .791 4
33 Minnesota .732 7
74 Middle Tennessee .454 24

These are only through week one, so expect Arizona to drop out of the top 25 after a scare against UTSA. The Roadrunners are one of the fastest rising teams right out of the gate. Our Golden Gophers are sitting comfortably on the fringes as a top quartile squad, while this week's opponent is somewhere near the great unwashed FBS middle. The Blue Raiders experienced quite a large ratings jump themselves by thrashing a team they were supposed to beat by 41 points. They did so by 54, so the upward adjustment here is more a correction on a low preseason prediction than anything else.

Now, as for the game itself:

Gopher Win Probability 76.6%
Predicted Margin of Victory +12
Current Vegas Spread Gophers -16
Current Vegas Over/Under 50.5

Right about now is when I reveal my Log5 methodology doesn't perform any home/neutral adjustments (the reason why is pretty boring and technical), so feel free to add 3 points on that predicted margin and voila! - look at how closely it matches the spread! I don't have Kill's ATS record as a double digit favorite handy, but if you're spotted that many points chances are you're going to win comfortably -- especially at home.

Models and Bottles Refreshers!

The beauty of a margin-only based model is you don't have to focus on the details. M&B model don't care that MTU put up a face melting 14.55 yards per passing attempt last week, nor does it consider the 4.14 yards per rush allowed to one of the worst D1 teams ever. All that matters is the projected versus actual margin, since really, scoreboard pointing is what it's all about.

Because of all that, I think we'll see a moderated game plan from our coaching staff but it will remain a "preseason" strategy. I'm fully confident Limegrover and Kill could whitewash this team -- and they still might -- if they did nothing but feed Maxx Williams and hand it off to Cobb and Edwards. In reality, the coaches will use it as an opportunity to work on what needs fixing, namely Mitch and the passing game. Best of both worlds would be to come out hot, go up 3 scores and start working on the more difficult throws Leidner needs to make if he's gonna kick the offense up a notch.

Fully expecting an uncomfortable halftime margin that fades away into an easy second half victory though.


Even though there was little to get nervous about last Thursday night, I pounded some fear beers anyway. I'm not proud of it, because it was an FCS team after all, but it was still beer and I'll chalk it up to the anxious but excited energy surrounding the return of football. Week 2 has little of that anxiety, since the biggest known unknown of any preseason worries have already been addressed: namely, is my favorite team a collection of corpse meat adorned in bright colors? Thankfully, no.

The same can not be said of Wisconsin's quarterback depth chart.

This game will be an exercise of enjoying the moment and/or savoring the finest of the day. For those of you lucky enough to attend the game, the forecast calls for perfect September afternoon weather. The rest of us, we can get away with sipping on some of the good stuff while taking in the game as calmly possible befitting a sports fan's temperament. Enjoy that while it lasts, since it'll give way to various HATE WEEKS, gnashing of teeth and eventual gut punches. Such is life during Fall.

In honor of our frienemies visiting from the edge of the Appalachian Plateau, the bottle de jour hails roughly 40 miles down I-24 from Murfreesboro: George Dickel Barrel Select. Here's what Whiskey Advocate has to say about it:

The star of the portfolio. A true sipping whisky with elegance and grace. Perhaps the best Tennessee whisky on the market. Honey-soaked corn bread, rhum agricole, ripe nectarine, and glazed citrus. Hint of mint, green tea, and cinnamon. Very polished.

Like I said, it's all about savoring this week.