Pamela Maldonado gives her best preseason win total for the Big Ten Conference for the 2022 season.
PAMELA MALDONADO: Let's row the boat. I'm Pam Maldonado, and I'm here to talk about the Big Ten Conference looking at one team for a season win total that could actually be a contender for the Big Ten title game. That team for me is the Minnesota Golden Gophers. And the play is over 7 and 1/2 games. Last year, this is a team that went in 9 and 4 in the season with big wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin but random losses to Bowling Green and a rebuilding Illinois, both of which were at home.
The one weakness that this team does have, 115th in passing yards and fourth worst in passing attempts behind only all three service academies. Now this year, however, this is an offense that is getting some key parts back in the lineup. Three running backs back from injury, including Mohamed Ibrahim, who had over a thousand rushing yards and 15 rushing scores back in 2020 injured last year in the season opener.
Trey Potts played only five games, out for the season. And Bryce Williams, who missed the final four games of the year. Now this is important because the strength of this offense comes in the running game. Top 30 in rushing yards last year, and that was without a bulk of its best running backs. Now a second string for this Minnesota team is in the defense. Second in total defense.
Although they do lose a few key parts on that side of the ball, they do return the top three defensive backs. You're talking about a Minnesota team that was plagued by injury last year and still only had four losses. If you look at the schedule, it is a very manageable one with four winnable road games, including at Michigan State, who doesn't have as big as weapon in running back Kenneth Walker, at Penn State who is 11-11 in the last two seasons, at Nebraska who was without the soul of its team in quarterback Adrian Martinez, and at Wisconsin who we all know love to give the ball away.
Now another betting option that I do like is 25 to 1 for the Minnesota team to win the Big Ten title game. It is a bit of a long shot. Absolutely. But it definitely holds some merit if this team can stay healthy, improve in the passing game, which it definitely can. Because PJ Fleck did re-hire former offensive coordinator in Kirk Ciarrocca, who led Minnesota's best offense back in 2019 where the team finished 11 and 2 and was top 40 in passing yards.
Now I'm high on the Minnesota team absolutely every year, but for good reason. They have a capable quarterback in Tanner Morgan, a great head coach, a good defense. And this year, they don't have to face either Ohio State or Michigan. I mean, the Buckeyes have got to face someone in the title game, right? So why not be the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Row the boat. Bet $10 and win $200 in free bets by signing up at betmgm.com/yahoovip. New customers only, must be 21 or older. And terms do apply.