Line on Gophers vs Illini Has Surpassed Point of Disrespectful

Photo: Matt Blewett - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Saturday, the Minnesota Gophers will take the football field in Champaign vs a ranked (#24) Illinois Fighting Illini team that’s beaten Wisconsin and Iowa in back to back weeks. The Gophers, on the other hand, are coming off of a bye that was preceded by an ugly 20-10 loss vs Purdue.

The oddsmakers and millions of gamblers pushing the line on this weekend’s game, however, have no interest in such context. What started as Minnesota (-3.5) earlier this week, has now moved all the way to Minnesota (-7), at certain sportsbooks. That’s right. Touchdown favorites ON THE ROAD.

Covers.com

Not only are the Gophers playing a ranked team on the road. But that ranked team’s 2nd-year head coach, Bret Bielema, is 8-0 in his career vs Minnesota. That includes an upset win over the Gophers last season. A loss that cost Minnesota a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship. Earlier in his coaching career (2006-2012), Bielema was 7-0 vs the U of M as Wisconsin’s head coach.

What do the sportsbooks know?

Really, I cannot justify what’s transpiring in Vegas, regarding the ridiculous lines/spreads on this game. I do believe the Gophers will win on Saturday and I’ll tell you why in the paragraphs below. Still, there’s no justifiable reason for Minnesota to be a touchdown favorite going into this game. It’s straight-up disrespect against Bielema’s Illini.

Illini starting QB, Tommy DeVito is questionable to play. That’s part of it. DeVito (1163 YD, 9 TD, 2 INT) has been a great compliment to Illinois’ dominant rushing attack.

It’s possible that bettors and oddsmakers see the Illini defense, which has been the team’s biggest strength so far, as built on a house of cards. They’ve held opponents to just 8 PPG on the season but 2/3 of their big ten schedule, so far, has consisted of teams that suck at offense (Wisconsin, Iowa).

Slow Chase Brown

And if the Fighting Illini aren’t fighting out a close game or playing with a lead, they could be in trouble because their offense revolves around star running back, Chase Brown, who has already amassed 879 yards and 4 TDs on the season.

If the Minnesota Gophers defense can slow Brown and the offense can expose Illinois’ defense as statistically overrated… then Vegas might end up right. But that’s a lot of if’s for a spread like what we’re seeing in this game.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan