Pac-12 vs Big 10: Oregon State Visits MinnesotaBy David A.
On Thursday, the Big 10 hosts the Pac-12 when the Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Oregon State Beavers for the first game of the regular season for both teams. The current line has Minnesota favored by 13 points with the over/under point total sitting on 55.5 in this free pick.
Gary Anderson returns to face the Big 10 as coach of the Beavers and was successful against Minnesota while coaching Wisconsin defeating the Golden Gophers on two occasions before heading west to coach Oregon State.
However, last season against a Big 10 opponent, Oregon State was routed by Michigan 35-7. The Beavers were also routed in Pac-12 play losing all 9 conference games by an average of 24.5 points.
Minnesota has a great deal of work in the Big 10 West after going 2-6 in conference games last season prior to winning the Quick Lane Bowl over Central Michigan. Last year Tracy Claeys was 2-4 while the interim head coach. He will begin his first season as the head coach on Thursday for Minnesota.
Darell Garretson, a transfer quarterback from Utah State will lead the Beavers offense. The Beavers are deep at wide receiver with Jordan Villamin leading the way with 43 catches and 660 yards last season. Paul Lucas can play four positions on offense, including wide receiver.
Elu Aydon a nose tackled for Oregon State is expected to improve a rush defense that was the worst in the Pac-12 last season giving up 270 yards or more in six games during its losing streak to end the season.
Minnesota will have Jay Johnson play calling for the offense. The offense should be unpredictable and up tempo with running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks sharing the load on the ground and Mitch Leidner a senior under center. Leidner is healthy after offseason surgery on his foot.
Leidner has 23 touchdowns on the ground, which is second in Golden Gophers history for quarterbacks and just two away from Reggie Foggie’s record of 25.
Oregon State sacked the quarterback just 17 times last season for the fewest in the Pac-12 and No. 106 in the nation.
Minnesota lost nine of its top 13 tacklers on a defense that was ranked No. 24 overall in the nation last season.
Prediction: Minnesota looks better on paper, but Oregon State starting its second season under Anderson should be much stronger. Lean toward the points here and Oregon State.