Big Ten College Football Betting Picks: Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats
Ryan Field – Evanston, Illinois
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Northwestern -12 1/2
Current Line: Northwestern -12
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Northwestern -500 / Minnesota +390
Current Money Line: Northwestern -475 / Minnesota +370
Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Northwestern Wildcats went 4-0 to start the 2013 season, but both have since gone 0-2 in the Big Ten. Both teams are desperate for their first conference win as they meet in Evanston Saturday. They join Illinois and Purdue as the only winless teams in the conference. Minnesota leads the series 50-33-5 but Northwestern has won 3 straight in the series, including a 21-13 victory last season in Minneapolis.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill announced last week that he would take an indefinite leave of absence from the team to treat his epilepsy. Kill has been taken to the hospital several times during his tenure as the Gophers’ coach because of epileptic seizures including twice this season. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as the acting coach until Kill returns. Minnesota has home wins over UNLV 51-23, Western Illinois 29-12, and San Jose State 43-24, along with a road win at New Mexico State 44-21. The Golden Gophers lost at home to Iowa 23-7 and at Michigan two weeks ago 42-13. Minnesota is 3-3 ATS and the total is 4-2 this season. The Gophers were 18.5 point underdogs at Michigan and the total was 50.5.
The Wolverines would take a 14-7 halftime lead against the Gophers. However, Michigan blew open a close game in the second half by outscoring Minnesota 28-6 in the third to make the final 42-13 and claiming the Little Brown Jug. Minnesota had 281 total yards including 145 passing and 136 rushing yards. Michigan had 348 total yards including 235 passing. The Gophers had the only two turnovers in the game including a pick six late in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota is outscoring teams 31-24 this season. The Golden Gophers are averaging 332.7 yards per game on offense, including 116.8 passing and 215.8 rushing yards. The rushing attack is #26 in the country, but the Gophers are #121 out of 125 teams in passing. The Golden Gophers are #109 in total offense. Minnesota is allowing 383.8 total yards per game, including 255.5 passing yards and 128.3 rushing yards. The Gophers are #93 in pass defense and #28 in rush defense. Minnesota is even in turnovers with 7 takeaways. Minnesota is averaging less than 30 penalty yards per game and so are their opponents. The Gophers are 40/82 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 44/96. Minnesota has forced 7 sacks and allowed 10. The Gophers are 21/22 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns, and opponents are 15/21 with 12 touchdowns. Minnesota has 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed one pick six.
Minnesota quarterback Phillip Nelson has thrown for 380 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 42 carries, 203 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was benched in the Iowa game, and back-up Mitch Leidner took over. Leidner started the Michigan game and will start against Northwestern. Leidner has thrown for 321 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and has 64 carries for 317 yards and 5 touchdowns. Running back David Cobb has 68 carries for 374 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Rodrick Williams, Jr. has 60 carries, 332 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Receiver Derrick Engel has 14 catches, 182 yards and a touchdown. Maxx Williams has 10 catches for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Three defensive players are listed on the injury report including 2 defensive backs.
Northwestern is coached by Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats started off the season 4-0 with a road win at California 44-30 and home wins over Syracuse 48-27, Western Michigan 38-17, and Maine 35-21. Northwestern opened Big Ten play with a home loss to Ohio State 40-30 and last week at Wisconsin 35-6. The Wildcats are 2-4 ATS and the total is 3-3 this season. Northwestern was an 11 point underdog at Wisconsin and the total was 58.5.
The Wildcats took a 3-0 lead early in the first, but the Badgers scored 21 unanswered points. Northwestern would add another field goal just before halftime to make it 21-6. Wisconsin added 2 second half touchdowns to complete the 29 point rout. Northwestern had 241 total yards and just 10 first downs. Wisconsin had 527 total yards including 286 rushing yards. The Badgers were able to overcome 3 turnovers and the Wildcats had one.
Northwestern is outscoring teams 34-28 this season. The Wildcats are averaging 435.2 yards per game including 245.8 passing and 189.3 rushing yards. On defense, Northwestern is allowing 447.3 total yards per game including 279 passing and 168.3 rushing yards. The Wildcats are #100 in total defense and #109 against the pass nationally. Northwestern is +7 in turnovers with 17 takeaways. The Wildcats average 45 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 36. Northwestern is 39/94 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 48/104. The Wildcats have forced 11 sacks and allowed 19 this season. Northwestern is 25/26 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns, and opponents are 21/24 with 15 touchdowns. The Wildcats have forced 4 pick sixes this season and have allowed a punt return and a fumble return both for touchdowns.
Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemien has completed 59.8% of his passes for 1,079 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 24 carries. He normally splits snaps with Kain Colter, but Colter is questionable with an ankle injury. Colter has thrown for 396 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 picks, along with 53 carries, 263 yards and 4 touchdowns. Colter also has a touchdown reception. Running back Treyvon Green has 66 carries for 429 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 3 catches and a touchdown. Mike Trumpy has 45 carries, 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. Venric Mark is doubtful with an ankle injury. He has 31 carries for 97 yards along with 5 catches for 48 yards. Receiver Tony Jones has 29 catches, 404 yards and 3 touchdowns. Christian Jones has 21 catches for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rashad Lawrence has 15 catches for 252 yards. Dan Vitale has 18 catches for 205 yards and a touchdown. Three defensive players are out Saturday.
Minnesota is 4-0 ATS on grass, 3-7 after allowing more than 40 points, 2-5 against teams with winning home records, 2-9 in October, 1-7 against teams with winning records, and 0-4 in Big Ten games. The road team is 12-2 ATS in this series recently. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six between Minnesota and Northwestern. The Gophers are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 against the Wildcats and Minnesota has covered their last 7 trips to Evanston.
Northwestern is 6-0 ATS after gaining less than 275 total yards, 12-3 after a straight up loss of 20 points or more, 6-2 in Big Ten games, 9-3 at home, 11-4 after allowing more than 450 total yards, 8-3 after scoring less than 20 points, 10-4 on grass, 4-9 against teams with winning road records, 5-12 in October, 1-5 after failing to cover, and 0-4 overall.
Minnesota struggles on offense, especially passing but Northwestern struggles on defense, especially against the pass. The Wildcats couldn’t do anything against a suffocating Wisconsin defense but should find it much easier against a mediocre Minnesota defense. I think Northwestern gets back on the winning track at home, but keep an eye on the health of Colter and Mark.
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