P.J. Fleck may have the quietest 4-0 team in the country. His Golden Gophers have knocked down every obstacle put in front of them so far this season, and appear to finally be getting some respect. Fleck’s team is a 2 TD favorite in the NCAA week 6 Illinois at Minnesota free pick. Lovie Smith and the Illini may be up against it on Saturday, playing just their 2nd road game of the season. Illinois kept it close last week vs. Nebraska, can they do the same here?
Illinois Looked Decent Last Week
The Illini are +14 underdogs heading into the NCAA week 6 Illinois at Minnesota free pick. That’s very similar to last week when Illinois was listed at +13, but held their own against Nebraska ultimately dropping a 38-42 contest. One big difference was that the week 5 game was in Champaign but Illinois travels Saturday for the 1st time in nearly a month when they won a 31-23 game at UCONN but as -21 point favorites.
It’s no secret what Illinois is going to try to do vs. Minnesota and that’s run the ball. Reggie Corbin toted the rock 20 times for 134 yards vs. the Cornhuskers last week, following up a 144 yard output the game before. The Illini are very one-dimensional though, averaging less than 200 yards passing per game. In last week’s close loss, Illinois QB Brandon Peters was just 9/21 for 78 yards.
Don’t let last week’s close contest vs. Nebraska fool you, the Fighting Illini are still pretty bad. The Cornhuskers outgained Illinois 690 to 299, but shot themselves in the foot with 4 fumbles lost. The Golden Gophers are starting to develop a very versatile offense that should be in for a huge day Saturday.
Minnesota Needs to Keep Rowing the Boat
Having the Golden Gophers be undefeated helps their cause for the blowout win in the NCAA week 6 Illinois at Minnesota free pick. Fleck and his squad need to rack up as many wins in this part of their schedule with Illinois, Rutgets, and Maryland on the docket in 3 of the next 4 weeks. Minnesota can’t look ahead to Nebraska next week, and definitely wants as many W’s as possible with Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin looming as their last 3 games.
What Minnesota did do is pass their first real test of the year in a 38-31 conference opening win over Purdue last week. The Gophers were helped immensely by Boilers veteran QB Elijah Sindelar and standout WR Rondale Moore getting hurt on the same play. The Gophers defense has also allowed 31+ points in three straight games, but have been stout with a top 40 unit vs. the run as the ground game is Illinois’ only strength.
The O/U for Saturday is 57 which has actually dropped 3 points considering there is a 100% chance of showers. The ‘over’ might still look like a strong play though the way the Golden Gophers offense played last week. QB Tanner Morgan shredded Purdue to the tune of 21/22 for 398 and 4 TDs. Rodney Smith had a great game on the ground with 22 carries for 115 yards and Rashod Bateman continues to impress with 6 catches for 177 and 2 TD. It was Bateman’s 3rd game over 100 yards receiving in 2019 and if you double him good luck dealing with All Big-Ten receiver Tyler Johnson who had 10 catches for 143 yards and 3 TDs in Minnesota’s week 3 win.
NCAA Week 6 Illinois at Minnesota Free Pick
Morgan and the Minnesota offense will be able to do whatever they want again this week vs. the Illinois defense. It’s the Gophers own defense that puts this game in jeopardy of being closer than a 2 TD spread. The two teams played to a 55-31 Illinois win in Champaign a year ago as the Illini ran the ball for 430 yards. Minnesota’s defense should be better Saturday at home, but they still give up a lot of points.
Pick: Illinois / Minnesota *Over* 57