Minnesota-Northwestern to See Road Dog Cover: College Football Pick

David Lawrence

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 11:39 AM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2015 11:39 AM GMT

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Northwestern Wildcats are very similar teams. The one big difference is that one team failed to win its big season opener while the other did not. What should be expected this weekend? This is a game which could very easily cut in either direction, more so than a lot of other college games on tap for Saturday. Here’s a closer look:

Momentum
The Golden Gophers are coming off three straight wins, so why do they have so little momentum? It’s because they can’t score very consistently. Minnesota’s offense hasn’t yet scored as many as 30 points in any game this season, despite playing two teams from the Mid-American Conference, Kent State and Ohio University. The Golden Gophers have a decent offensive line and a competent running game, but their passing game has really held them back. Veteran quarterback Mitch Leidner has not made the forward strides the coaching staff hoped he would make this season. There is still time for things to change, but after four games and a full month of work, head coach Jerry Kill certainly expected Leidner to be a lot farther ahead in his development. He’s not. Minnesota has played three razor-close games against teams it should beat by more comfortable margins.

Northwestern is also winning games by close margins. Except for a week two game against a lower-tier opponent, the Wildcats have won by no more than 10 points against Stanford, Duke, and Ball State. Stanford has become a very good offense, so the fact that Northwestern held the Cardinal to six points in the season opener represents one of the best defensive performances of the entire season. The Wildcats have a great defense, but their offense, under first-year quarterback Clayton Thorson, is not good enough to win games comfortably.

 

Line Moves
The college football odds started with Northwestern being a six-point favorite, but that line has dropped down to four points. Bettors don’t trust Northwestern’s offense, and they like a very good Minnesota defense. Northwestern has not shown that it can be explosive on offense yet.

Notable Injuries
Minnesota has tight end Duke Anyanwu out indefinitely with a knee injury. Tight end Lincoln Plsek is out indefinitely with a back injury. Offensive lineman Jon Christenson is out with a knee injury. Offensive lineman Nick Connelly is out indefinitely with a concussion. Defensive back Damarius Travis is likely to miss this game with a hamstring injury. Defensive back Antonio Johnson is questionable for this game with a concussion. Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky is also questionable with a concussion. Defensive back KiAnte Hardin is questionable with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Gary Moore is questionable for undisclosed reasons. So is defensive lineman Robert Ndondo-Lay. Defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun is doubtful for this game with a knee injury.

Northwestern has offensive lineman Adam DePietro listed as being out indefinitely with a leg injury. Offensive lineman Geoff Mogus is questionable for this game with a head injury. Defensive back Godwin Igwebuike is questionable with an upper body injury. Defensive back Kyle Queiro is out indefinitely with an arm injury.

 

Handicapping The Game
The Wildcats will probably win, but the Gophers are tough enough on defense to lose by only a field goal. Take the Gophers plus the points with your college football picks, though Northwestern will squeak out the straight-up victory.

Free College Football Pick: Minnesota +4 at 5Dimes

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