The NCAAF week 4 Big Ten free pick is a sneaky good one as the 3-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to the 2-1 Maryland Terrapins. Oddsmakers are giving Maryland the edge at home (MD -2.5) despite the fact they dropped a 14-35 contest to Temple at College Park last week. The Terrapins were -15 point favorites in that game, does that loss give Minnesota the momentum they need to get the W today?
— Tom Ritchie (@TRFiftyFive) September 21, 2018
Golden Gophers Thriving on Defense
Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has built an impressive defense unit in his 2nd year with the team. Through three games the Golden Gophers have allowed just 27 total points and their 9ppg average is 9th in the country. The Terrapins strength is their rushing game which racks up nearly 240 ypg on the ground. For Minnesota backers, that presents a great challenge as their rush defense is the 6th best in the nation giving up just 72 ypg. Last week Miami (OH) ran the ball 31 times but for just 91 yards and the Gophers defense only allowed 108 yards through the air. The Minnesota defense will be amped up today after giving up 416 yards in last year’s 24-31 home loss to Maryland as -13.5 favorites.
Freshman QB Zack Annexstad continues to be a great game manager as he’s thrown for 537 yards with 4TD and a more impressive 0 INT through his first 3 college contests. It will be interesting to see how the youngster fares in his 1st conference game especially against a very underrated Maryland defense. Annexstad does have the benefit of hometown WR Tyler Johnson from Minneapolis who caught 9 balls for 133 yards and 3TD last week. Fleck couldn’t get much of a ground game going in last year’s game vs. the Terrapins as Minnesota ran the ball 31 times but for just 80 yards. That could change in the The NCAAF week 4 Big Ten free pick as Bryce Williams ran the ball 33 times for 141 yards last week.
Maryland Playing Angry After Last Week’s Crushing Loss
The Terrapins had a great start to the season with a 34-29 home win over Texas but all that good karma was washed away in last week’s loss to Temple. The Maryland defense gave up 429 total yards to the Owls led by 165 on the ground. The biggest concern for interim coach Matt Canada is if that game was an enigma or a sign? Prior to last week the Terrapin defense had been pretty stout as they rank 26th in the country in rushing yards allowed.
Speaking of the interim coach, how big of a distraction is it to the players that this week an NCAA finding stated that Maryland was culpable in the heat stroke death of Jordan McNair this Spring? It will be QB Kasim Hill’s job to put the team at ease and to bounce back from his own 7/17 for 56 yards performance last week. In the loss to Temple, Maryland gained just 195 total yards. The M.O today is going to definitely be trying to get the running game going as the Terrapins have 3 backs with 130+ yards on the season and boast the nations #26 rushing offense.
NCAAF Week 4 Big Ten Free Pick Betting
PJ Fleck teams always improve in his 2nd (and especially 3rd) season at the helm so you have to take last year’s Minnesota loss to Maryland with a grain of salt. The wrong team seems favored today after the Terrapins looked so horrible in a loss to Temple last week. Are the distractions starting to get to the team? How does interim coach Matt Canada rally his troops in just his 4th game as head coach? It’s pointing to Fleck and the Gophers in this one.
Big Ten Free Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers +2.5