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Minnesota Boosts National Championship Odds by Handing Penn State First Loss

TCF Bank Stadium - Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota's National Championship odds have improved to +5000 after they upset Penn State in Week 11. Photo by A Syn (Flickr) [CC License].
  • No. 17 Minnesota upset No. 4 Penn State on Saturday
  • The Golden Gophers’ National Championship odds have shortened to +5000
  • Read below to see if the Golden Gophers are a good longshot bet to win the CFP

No. 17 Minnesota remained unbeaten with a 31-26 upset victory over No. 4 Penn State on Saturday. Golden Gophers QB Tanner Morgan continued his impressive season by outduelling Nittany Lions QB Sean Clifford.

While Minnesota is still considered a longshot to win it all, their 2020 National Championship odds improved to +5000 with the huge victory.

Is there value in betting Minnesota to win a National Championship?

2020 National Championship Odds

Team Odds at BetOnline
Ohio State +200
LSU +250
Clemson +300
Georgia +900
Alabama +1000
Oklahoma +1600
Oregon +2500
Utah +4000
Minnesota +5000
Baylor +6600
Penn State +10000
Florida +15000
Cincinnati +50000

*Odds taken Nov. 10

Tanner Morgan Leading the Charge

Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan continued his impressive season on Saturday against Penn State’s fifth-ranked defense. Morgan went 18-of-20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the victory. The Golden Gophers’ QB took just one sack and helped WR Rashod Bateman set a TCF Bank Stadium record for most receiving yards in a game.

Morgan has played a very important role in Minnesota’s success this season. He hasn’t thrown an interception in four of his six Big 10 games and has completed at least 90% of his passes in two games. Morgan previously went 21-for-22 at Purdue in September.

Penn State is the country’s second-best team against the run and rank top-20 in sacks. Morgan’s ability to deliver against an elite defensive line bodes well for Minnesota’s chances moving forward.

Schedule Concern

Minnesota does not have an easy path to making the CFP. They have to face a ranked Iowa team at Kinnick Stadium in Week 12 before travelling to Northwestern to face the Wildcats the following week. They close out the regular season at home against dominant running back Jonathan Taylor and No. 16 Wisconsin.

These three games are winnable, but there’s a good chance Minnesota picks up at least one loss. Iowa (6-3) has only lost to ranked Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin teams this season and have an electric home atmosphere. Minnesota has lost four straight to the the Hawkeyes and have not won in Iowa City since 2000.

The Badgers have the top-ranked defense in the nation and a Heisman candidate at running back. Even if the Golden Gophers do make the Big 10 Championship game, they will likely have to defeat powerhouse Ohio State. The Buckeyes have beat all their opponents by at least 24 points this season and would have a good chance of beating Minnesota.

Does Penn State Still have a Shot?

Penn State’s national title hopes aren’t completely squashed, but they took a major blow with that upset loss to Minnesota. The Nittany Lions will have a chance to get their playoff hopes back on track against Ohio State in Week 13.

The Nittany Lions will be in tough against Ohio State, but they could catch a break with Buckeyes’ top DE Chase Young expected to be handed a suspension by the NCAA. I still don’t like their chances, especially considering that Justin Fields is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and Penn State couldn’t contain Minnesota’s Morgan.

No two-loss team has made the four-team playoff since its inception, and Penn State is likely to pick up a second loss at the hands of Ohio State.

Betting Advice

While the chance is still there, the Golden Gophers and Nittany Lions both aren’t great bets to make the CFP, let alone win a title.

Based on history, the college football playoff committee would likely select a one-loss SEC team over a one-loss Big 10 team. One-loss Oregon, Oklahoma and Utah teams are also building strong cases to make the playoff.

Minnesota’s odds of going undefeated and making the playoff are slim. Based on their remaining schedule and who they would be facing in the conference title game, I don’t see value in betting on them as a longshot to win a National Championship.

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