This Saturday the Minnesota Golden Gophers will host the Illinois Fighting Illini. Kickoff for this Big Ten showdown is set for 3:30 EST at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Oddsmakers opened up this line at Minnesota -14 and that’s where it still sits at most books, though there are a couple that have them down to only -13.5. The total for this opened at 60.5 and has been bet down a few points to 58 and even 57.5.
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Illinois vs Minnesota Vegas Preview & Game Predictions
Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
The Fighting Illini will be returning from their first bye week of 2019. Last time we saw Illinois, they nearly pulled off a big upset at home against Nebraska as a 13-point dog. Illini jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter and would not trail until midway thru the 4th quarter.
There’s was definitely a lot that went right for Illinois to keep the game as close as they did. Nebraska had a 674 to 299 edge in total yards and 32 to 14 advantage in first downs. It was 4 Cornhusker turnovers that (Illinois +3 turnover margin) allowed the Illini to keep it close.
Either that’s now back-to-back losses after their 2-0 start and one of those wins was by a mere 8-points at UConn. The other loss was a 34-31 setback against Eastern Michigan.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Minnesota is one of five Big Ten teams that enter Week 6 of the college football season undefeated. After racking up 3 non-conference wins over South Dakota State, @ Fresno State and Georgia Southern, they opened up Big Ten play last week with a 38-31 win at Purdue.
While the Gophers are sitting at 4-0 straight up, they just got their first cover of the season in the victory over the Boilermakers, as they went off as a 1.5-point dog.
While all 4 wins have come by a touchdown or less, Minnesota did have a comfortable 38-17 lead going into the 4th quarter against Purdue.
Last year the Fighting Illini upset Minnesota 55-31 as a 9.5-point home dog. Illinois piled on 430 yards and 5 scores on the ground alone. Then junior running back Reggie Corbin had himself a day with 213 yards and 2 scores on just 13 attempts.
Free NCAAF Betting Pick & Prediction: Minnesota -13.5
My early lean here would be to lay the two touchdowns with the Golden Gophers. I know it hasn’t exactly been pretty for Minnesota early on in 2019, but I think they are hands down the better team in this matchup. In fact, I think because the Gophers have won ugly in a lot of their games and last time we saw Illinois they nearly upset Nebraska, the public will have a hard time laying this number with Minnesota.
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I just think it was perfect storm for Illinois to make a game of it against the Cornhuskers. Nebraska was off a blowout win over Northern Illinois and had a massive game on deck at home against Ohio State. If the Cornhuskers simply take care of the football they win that game by 20+. They had a 375 yard edge in total yards.
Keep in mind, that looks a lot worse after how bad Nebraska just looked against Ohio State. Clearly they aren’t as good as we thought and yet they dominated Illinois. The other team the Fighting Illini lost to was Eastern Michigan and they needed a blocked punt return for a TD to beat Central Connecticut State at home last week. Their two wins are against Akron and UConn, who are a combined 1-8 with the only win by UConn 24-21 at home against Wagner.
The other thing to take into account is what happened in this matchup last year. There’s some losses you just brush off and there’s others that stick in the back of your head. I have a hard time believing that P.J. Fleck isn’t going to constantly be reminding his players of how awful they played in last year’s game.
I just think it’s going to be really tough for Illinois to keep this within 14-points. Give me Minnesota -13.5!