It’s the Big Ten opener for both teams and the conference debut for Gophers coach P.J Fleck. Minnesota has started the season 3-0 but doesn’t necessarily have a signature win yet with victories coming against Buffalo, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee State. Maryland is 2-1, noted by going on the road to spoil Tom Herman’s Texas Longhorns debut. The Terps have been befuddled by injuries however and it will show for the college football week 5 early game betting.
The main reason Maryland finds themselves as nearly two touchdown favorites is because they’re down to third string quarterback Max Bortenschlager. The opening win at Texas was costly for Maryland as Tyrrell Pilgrome suffered an ACL tear in the fourth quarter. Freshman backup Kasim Hill played admirably – but he himself tore his ACL last week against UCF. Maryland may be less focused on winning today, and moreso just hope the players get out of Minnesota with their legs in tact.
Can Maryland Cover the -13.5 In College Football Week 5 Early Game Betting?
Obviously the big story for Maryland bettors is what type of production they can expect from the QB position – and will he stay healthy? The sophomore was functional at best last week in a 38-10 loss to UCF completing 15 of 26 for 132 but threw 2 INT’s. The healthy part could legitimately be an issue – not because of bad luck but due to the fact that Bortenschlager was sacked five times last week. It’s a sign of taking too long to go through progressions for the youngster – not good against a defensive minded Gopher team.
Getting help from the running game would be the perfect prescription for Bortenschlager to have some success – one problem though, the Minnesota defense is #1 in the nation in rush yards allowed (59). The Golden Gopher passing defense is top 35 as well giving up 180 YPG. It should also be noted, Minnesota is coming off a bye last week for the college football week 5 early game betting.
Any Reasons Why Minnesota May Not Cover the Number?
The Golden Gophers are nearly two touchdown favorites but they are very much a grind-it-out team averaging 214 yards per game. In fact, starting QB Conor Rhoda has thrown only 46 passes through three games, although he has completed 30 of them (65.2%). If Minnesota gets down early somehow can their passing attack bring them back? Leading receiver Tyler Johnson has just 12 catches in 3 games.
Heard great line by PJ Fleck: “You don’t want to be the person that everyone has to motivate.”
— Chris Cobb (@CoachCCobb) September 29, 2017
Something working in the Gophers’ favor for covering the -13.5 is the Maryland defense – or lack there of. The Terps have shown equal-opportunity vulnerability this year, giving up 375 in the air to Texas and 250 on the ground two weeks later to Central Florida. There are two things leading to the Maryland poor defensive start – 1) they can’t get back to the sidelines on third down (opponents convert nearly 50%) which is a byproduct of 2) their own QB can’t keep the offense on the field.
College Football Week 5 Early Game Betting Pick
The “under” looks great in this matchup even though it has dropped 48 at open down to 44.5 current. Maryland has offensive woes while Minnesota is defense oriented and loves to pound the ball on the ground. The Gophers have seen signs of their offense coming to life however, scoring 48 and 34 consecutively the last two games so the total becomes risky.
With all the emotion of Fleck’s Minnesota Big Ten debut in front of the home crowd and the fact that the Maryland defense has struggled – and their QB is only out there of necessity – means the Gophers could be in a blowout spot in this one.
Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers -13.5