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Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Free Pick 10/5/13

Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-1) at Michigan Wolverines (4-0)

College Football: Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm (Michigan Stadium)

The Line: Michigan Wolverines -20.5 See the Latest Odds


The Minnesota Golden Gophers are still licking their wounds, and now have the tough task of facing the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Wolverines are sitting at 4-0 this season, and while it hasn’t always been pretty for UM, wins are wins.  The Wolverines are coming off another unimpressive win as the Wolverines defeated the UConn Huskies 24-21 back on September 21st.  The Wolverines, after their impressive home defeated of the Fighting Irish, needed a comeback win against Akron, and now the Wolverines appeared to sleepwalk through their game against the Huskies.  Michigan once again trailed in this game, down 21-7 to the Huskies in the third quarter, then finally the Wolverine offense got on track late in the third quarter, scoring 17 unanswered, stealing the win from the Huskies.  Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner really struggled against the Huskies, completing just 13/25 for 111 yards and two picks.  Gardner was effective on the ground, but Brady Hoke has made it known that he wants to limit Gardner’s carries, and so far, that strategy is not panning out for Big Blue.  The Wolverine offense managed just 284 total yards against the Huskies, and if it weren’t for their strong defense, more than likely the Wolverines would have at least two losses on the season thus far.

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Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Free Pick 10/5/13

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers fired out of the gates this season, going 4-0 through their first four games.  Like I said about the Wolverines, wins are wins, but the Gophers opponents were far from impressive.  Minnesota beat up on UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois and finally San Jose State before finally meeting the Iowa Hawkeyes this past weekend.  The Gophers never really contended against the Hawkeyes, and even though it took awhile for Iowa to get their first score, and finally their first touchdown, I think that says more about the nature of the Hawkeye offense, rather than the strength of the Gopher defense.  Minnesota gained just 165 yards on the day against the Hawkeyes, while giving up 464 yards of offense to Iowa.  Under center for the Gophers was Phillip Nelson.  Nelson has had troubles through the air for the Gophers this season, and on Saturday against Iowa, those troubles continued.  The Minnesota signal caller threw for just 135 yards on 24 attempts, completing one touchdown while throwing two picks.  This Gopher ground game has looked decent at times this season, but unless Minny can get something going through the air, the Gophers will have a tough time in conference play.

In their last seven games in the month of October, the Gophers are just 2-5 overall, and 2-5 against the spread.  The past three seasons against Big Ten conference opponents, the Gophers are just 4-13 overall and 7-10 against the spread.  The Wolverines are 4-9 against the spread the past three seasons after two or more SU wins, and in their last five games as home favorites between 10.5 and 21 points, the Wolverines are 4-1 against the spread.

I look for the Wolverines to be improved on Saturday, but I have to take the points here with the Gophers.  The Wolverines have had an extra week off to prepare for the Gophers, and while I’m sure plenty of preparation was done for Minnesota, I have to think that some preparations were made for the Penn State game, in Happy Valley the following week.  The Gophers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Hawkeyes, and will be prepared to face a Wolverine team that doesn’t seem to be hitting on all cylinders.  Wolverines win, probably by double digits, but I’ll take nearly three touchdowns with the Gophers on the road in this spot. 

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