Big Ten Football Picks: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 10/25/14, 12:00 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Minnesota -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Minnesota -5.5
Opening Total:  56.5
Current Total:  56
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Minnesota Golden Gophers try to control the football with a punishing ground attack
The Minnesota Golden Gophers try to control the football with a punishing ground attack

Minnesota has won four games in a row, including a 39-38 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers as 12.5-point home favorites last Saturday, but it lost the statistical battle for a second consecutive affair.  The Golden Gophers hold a 35-28-3 SU advantage in this series, which can’t be ignored when making your Week 9 college football betting picks, as they’ve won three straight overall and four straight on the road.  It’s important to point out that the program has captured seven of its last nine Big Ten Conference games.  Minnesota is 6-5 SU and 5-6 ATS in Weeks 5 through 9 the last two-plus seasons.

The Golden Gophers are bowl eligible for a third straight year under head coach Jerry Kill, which is important to consider when looking over the college football betting lines, as they’ll likely play in the postseason for the 17th time in school history.  Minnesota’s success depends on its ground game, as it ran the ball 325 times and passed it just 121 times.  Quarterback Mitch Leidner has rushed for 13 career touchdowns in 16 games, with the squad compiling a 12-4 record when he participates, while posting an 8-2 mark as a starter.

Illinois is suffering through a three-game losing streak, which includes a 38-28 defeat to the Wisconsin Badgers as 27-point road underdogs on Oct. 11, while it has lost the statistical battle in all of those affairs.  The Fighting Illini are dependent on making big plays offensively, as they rank 15th nationally with 45 plays from scrimmage of 20 or more yards thus far.  Freshman wide receiver Mike Dudek is one of the main players to handicap, as he has 593 receiving yards on 37 catches.  Illinois is 1-18 SU and 5-14 ATS against conference opponents the last two-plus seasons.

The Fighting Illini have put together a 44-57-2 SU all-time record on Homecoming, which includes an 8-7-1 mark when hosting the Golden Gophers in that situation.  Illinois has dropped 11 of its last 12 games following a bye week, but it did manage to snap a streak of 10 consecutive losses by defeating Miami Ohio in 2013.

Sports bettors will likely back the Fighting Illini due to the underdog going 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.

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