Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:40 AM EST.
7:00 PM EST. For decades, the reputation of this Gophers’ program was to ground and pound while grinding out games. No more. With the hiring of former Western Michigan head coach and offensive guru, PJ Fleck, it's safe to say that the culture in Minnesota is about to change. With Fleck bringing his high-powered offensive philosophy to Minnesota, there's an excitement that hasn't been felt on campus in quite some time. Fleck brings a bushel of intensity to this Gopher program after leading WMU to a 13-1 record in 2016 with the Mustangs only loss coming to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Senior defensive tackle Steven Richardson summed it up best, “He (Fleck) brings the juice every single day in practice. If he turns it up a little bit more for a game, that's just a forbidden energy”. Flecks attention to detail during spring practices and fall camps was noticeable and we expect the Gophers to be in high intensity mode here. Fleck has something to prove now that he’s taken a big step up in conference class. He’s a Big-10 coach now.
The 2016 Bulls were about as bad as it gets and we don’t see any improvement this season. They averaged less than 17 points per game and generated 354 yards per game of total offense, which ranked 126th in the nation out of 128 teams. That's not positive. Not only did head coach Lance Leipold not get fired, but he didn't even fire the offensive coordinator. Instead he moved him over to coach the quarterbacks and running backs. That doesn't bode well for QB Tyree Jackson, who is 6'7” and looks like he should be clanging and banging with the defense instead of taking snaps. It doesn't help that Jackson has zero offensive weapons around him. Jackson lost his top three targets from a year ago. The Bulls offense is going to rely heavily on the ground game but they also lost their 1000 yard rusher from a year ago and replaced him with their third best RB last season.
For reasons we'll try to explain, the Bulls are receiving some attention in this game and we’re attributing it to the Gophers style of play not being conducive to spotting big points. That was the past but this is a new and exciting era in Minnesota Gophers football that the market has not yet embraced. The general feeling in this market is not really about getting behind the Bulls but more about taking back three TD’s and a FG against what is perceived as a ball-control Gophers team without much explosiveness. That’s enough to induce a lot of bettors to nibble on the dog right out of the gate, especially with a total of 50. Well, if the final score is anywhere near that 50 posted, expect 40 or more out of the Gophers and an easy cover. The Bulls defense is in no condition to slow the Gophers' playmakers, and the Buffalo organization is generally ill-equipped to compete in a decent Big-10 school's stadium in its first game of the year when the program itself is in such disarray. Gophers roll.
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MINNESOTA -24 +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)