Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 9:30 AM EST
3:30 PM EST. There is a term that tournament poker players use that you may have heard many times before. We’re referring to “all in” and if we were to apply it to a football game, this would be the game we’d move “all in” on. The Gophers are 3-1 and have gotten some positive press under the guidance of former Western Michigan Head Coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck worked wonders at his former school, as he took the Broncos of WMU from rags to riches during his time there. On December 17, 2012, Western Michigan announced the hiring of Fleck as the new head coach, making him the youngest head coach and the first head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of college football to have been born in the 1980s. Fleck's first season as Broncos head coach resulted in a final record of 1–11. In 2016, Fleck and WMU had the highest-rated recruiting class in the MAC for the fourth consecutive year. That same season, WMU was able to complete their undefeated regular season at 12-0 with a win at home against Toledo, 55-35. Fleck was named MAC Coach of the Year and was announced as one of five finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award alongside Colorado's Mike MacIntyre, Washington's Chris Petersen, Alabama's Nick Saban and Penn State's James Franklin. Following Tracy Claeys' firing, he accepted the head football coaching job at the University of Minnesota and here we are after an impressive 3-1 start by the Gophers but we’re strongly suggesting it’s fool’s gold.
Minnesota started the season 3-0, but the Gophers are now a long shot to make a sixth straight postseason appearance. The roster that P.J. Fleck inherited is just not equipped for life in the Big Ten. There was natural attrition as a result of the regime change, and while the players have largely responded to Fleck and embraced the new culture, there's not enough talent or depth on hand. The lineup is full of underclassmen, injuries are mounting and more redshirts were pulled in Saturday's loss to Maryland. Minnesota's extreme youth will continue to wear down as it navigates the rugged conference season. The secondary is the greenest and thinnest unit, which could make a Purdue team that's the only pass-first attack left on the Gophers' schedule a good place to start fading this bunch. Don't be deceived by either the defense's solid pass defense numbers or the shutdown performance versus pass-happy Middle Tennessee, which was missing its record-setting quarterback and All-America wideout. The Gophers are ripe to get whacked and this is precisely the place that it’ll happen.
Purdue is 2-2 but could just as easily be 4-0. The Boilermakers two victories were against Ohio (44-21) and Mizzou (35-3) but we’re going to focus on their two losses. The Boilermakers held a fourth quarter lead over Louisville and last year’s Heisman-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 1 before letting it slip away in a 35-28 loss. It was a similar story against Michigan in Week 4, when Purdue led 10-7 at halftime and appeared poised to pull the Top 10 upset but were shutout in the second half, as the Wolverines pulled away to escape West Lafayette with a hard-fought victory. In summarizing, Purdue’s two losses were against Michigan and Louisville and they held a lead in both games for prolonged stretches. There is renewed optimism in Jeff Brohm’s first year at the helm, as Purdue is loaded with offensive talent that has proven can trade punches with some of the best. This is a massive step down in class for a Boilermakers’ bunch that is not like previous editions. This edition is tough-minded, confident and focused and should have no trouble at all putting away this grossly overvalued visitor.
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#348 PURDUE -3½ -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)