MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 14: Demry Croft #11 and Tyler Johnson #6 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrate a touchdown against the Michigan State Spartans during the fourth quarter of the game on October 14, 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Spartans defeated the Gophers 30-27. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Gopher Football BIG Favorites at Home vs Illinois…

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It’s Homecoming on the Minnesota campus this weekend. Do you want to know what scares me about their opponent, the Illinois Fighting Illini?

The 13.5 point favorites Vegas is making the Gophers.

It has nothing to do with the Illini themselves. Honestly, nothing scares me about that state. For me, this is a rivalry game. It’s not Vikings-Packers but it still runs deep.

I lived in Illinois for 2.5 years because that’s where my wife is from (girlfriend but we have kids so it’s the same thing). When our daughter was born, I was a young, dumb 21 year-old who just knocked up my long-distance girlfriend (we now have another on the way) who happened to live in Illinois. Illinois sucks. They’re government is poor and half of their state roots for teams from Missouri….. Late-summer in southern Illinois might as well be Alabama + nightly tornadoes. If your team isn’t the Cubs in the north and the Cardinals in the south, nobody cares. The Rams played in the basement of some high school before moving to LA, I think.

Streaming live sports 7-8 years ago wasn’t nearly as easy as it is now. I was forced to scrounge the internet and buy random subscriptions to try and watch my Minnesota teams. Meanwhile, the Rams are playing to an empty basement on my TV. I hated it there. I love my wife and my daughter and my future child but outside of those early memories as a family, I try to block those years out.

St. Louis and Joe Buck also stole our ’91 Game 6 walk-off call, while I was there, deepening my hatred for him, but that is an article and story for another day. To me, this is a big game. That state should just annex into its surrounding states. So, that’s my rivalry.

The Gophers should be able to mop the turf with the Fighting Illini. Minnesota hasn’t looked very good to start the B1G season, losing to Maryland, Purdue, and Michigan State. Yet, they’re 13.5 point favorites. Should be easy, right? Is it ever?

Demry Croft will be the QB. Fleck won’t announce that but I might be off the boat if he puts Rhoda in to start this game. He better have a damn good reason, if not. Croft proved in 1 quarter, last week, what Rhoda hasn’t been able to prove in half a season. Demry’s mobile threat that, combined with his beautiful ball, can make defenses think twice before stacking up to stop our top-end running backs. Croft throws a great ball but needs to stay accurate. He isn’t what you dream of as a B1G QB, but he is many things that Rhoda’s not.

It will again be important for the defensive line to get pressure with the rush. Illinois sucks on offense, in general. If you can stop the run, and make them throw, you will be successful. The Illini seem to be relying on Jeff George Jr’s NFL bloodlines because he was only recruited as a 2-star QB (not that Illinois football can get much better than that) but was handed the job as a Sophomore and even got some playing time as a Freshman. He has thrown just 3 TD’s to go with 7 INT’s this season, and totals at 7 TD’s and 12 INT’s in his college career… not ideal.

This game should be an easy win but it looks like it will be wet conditions and this is Minnesota where nothing seems to come easy.

Start Croft
Stop the Run/Make George Throw
Run the Ball with RB’s and Croft
Don’t Turn Ball Over
Win Game

Simple right?

Eric Strack (Founder/Editor)
Minnesota Sports Fan
MinnesotaSportsFan.com @RealMNSportsFan

Sources: ESPN, 247Sports

Photos: (Featured – by Hannah Foslien/Getty), @GopherFootball

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