On Thursday, September 1st, the Oregon State Beavers travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a contest that should be dubbed “The Battle of the Rodent Mascots.”

Anyway, I’m going with Oregon State +13 for FIVE units in this game. I have three primary reasons as to why I chose the Beavers to cover the spread:

(1). OSU’s offense will be vastly improved.

State is more experienced on the OL, they return 5 of their top 6 leading rushers, and with the addition of Utah State transfer Darrell Garretson, the QB play should be much better than in 2015. This is also the 2nd year under HC Gary Andersen’s scheme; so the offense should flow more smoothly due to his players familiarity and experience with his system.

(2). Minnesota’s margin of victory.

In 2015, Minnesota won six games. The margin of victory in five of six of those games was only 5.2 points. Minnesota defeated Colorado State by three, Kent St by three, Ohio by three, Illinois by ten, and Central Michigan by seven. The lone blow out in Minnesota’s win column was a 41-13 shellacking of hapless Purdue. The Gopher’s smash mouth style of play generally does not lend itself to blow out victories.

(3). Injury.

Minnesota’s leading rusher, Shannon Brooks, will miss the opening game due to injury.

It’s often difficult to gauge how much improvement (or regression) a team will have from one season to the next; but I do expect both teams to be better in ’16 than they were in ’15. My primary concern with this game is the Oregon State defense; which was absolutely abysmal last season. Nevertheless, I expect a hard fought game that will be contested into the 4th quarter. Minnesota will emerge victorious; but won’t cover the 13 point spread.

Special Note: This line opened at 9, but has since jumped to 13; adding value to Oregon State.