Quick Lane Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Minnesota Expert Pick and Prediction – December 23, 2023
QUICK LANE BOWL: BOWLING GREEN VS. MINNESOTA EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – December 26, 2023 — It’s hard to find a more disappointing team than Minnesota. The Golden Gophers finished bottom of the Big Ten West at 3-6, and it probably should have been 1-8 if Iowa hadn’t screwed up a punt return and Nebraska hadn’t screwed up everything related to offense.
Meanwhile, Bowling Green’s also flat-out lucky to be here. The Falcons are a darn sight better than where they’ve been in previous years, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. The five teams they beat in MAC play finished a combined 14-46, and against the league’s three best teams (Miami, Ohio and Toledo), the Falcons got outscored 97-38.
In short, this might be one of the worst matchups of the bowl season. Its lone saving grace is that it’s got the benefit of a lower-level team getting to take a shot at a Power 5 squad. But there’s really not much intrigue about the MAC’s fifth-place team against a team that finished 12th in the Big Ten. That said, it’s still football and there’s not much else going on once the Premier League finishes its Boxing Day festivities, so at least there’s a bet to make here.
(7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS)
(5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS)
When: Tuesday, December 26th at 2 p.m. EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Public Bets: 54% on Minnesota
Public Money: 78% on Minnesota
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of December 20th, 2023.
Bowling Green vs. Minnesota In-Season Trends
Bowling Green might have played a soft schedule, but the Falcons did what they needed to do. The Falcons closed by winning five of six, and they also went 5-1 ATS in that stretch. Against weak teams, they tended to play solid defense, holding their opponent to 20 or less in four of their five league wins. But don’t mistake that for an under squad: four of their final five games went over.
Minnesota spent the final 10 games of the season doing exactly what you’d expect: matching their game result to the spread. The Gophers went 3-7 SU and 3-7 ATS over the final 10 games, and their last cover came against a disinterested Michigan State. The Gophers are exactly what you want as a bettor: they cover when they win and fail to cover when they lose.
The weather might be unpleasant in Detroit in December, but it won’t matter inside the Lions’ dome.
Will Terion Stewart actually play? If he does, it really helps Bowling Green’s chances. Minnesota couldn’t stop the run very well during the regular season, and Stewart makes a big difference for the Falcons’ rushing attack. Taron Keith was acceptable, but not great in the lead running back role against Toledo and Western Michigan. If he takes the lion’s share of the carries, Minnesota has the edge.
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If Darius Taylor was healthy, the Detroit native would have been in line for a big performance. But he’s out, so this likely falls to running back Jordan Nubin. Wide receiver Daniel Jackson will play, but with Athan Kaliakmanias transferring, it’s questionable how much of an impact Jackson will have.
It’s tough to see which team wants this game more. Bowling Green does seem to have more to play for, given that the Falcons have gone 1-6 in their past seven bowl appearances. Minnesota isn’t going to be jazzed about playing in Michigan against a lesser MAC opponent, and the passing game is a mess right now.
There’s not a ton to go on here, but this seems to be a case of talent vs. desire. Minnesota hasn’t been able to coax much out of its roster all season, and I don’t think that changes in this game.
Bowling Green +3.5