College Football Picks Against the Spread: Minnesota vs Indiana

Two Big Ten teams chasing a bowl birth have an important matchup this week when the Indiana Hoosiers visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Game time is set for 8:00 EST on Friday, October 26, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game will be available on FS1.

According to the Week 9 college football odds, the Hoosiers are 2.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under on this game is 54 points.

Minnesota vs Indiana Game Preview & Betting Odds

The Golden Gophers are desperate for a win on the heels of four straight losses since the start of conference play. Minnesota was perfect during the non-conference season, but they are 0-4 in Big Ten play after a 53-28 loss to previously winless Nebraska last week. That means the Gophers need three wins from their final five games to reach a bowl game.

With Northwestern and Wisconsin being their final two games, Minnesota’s best bet may be winning their next three games, starting with this week’s game against Indiana. In just his second season at Minnesota, P.J. Fleck doesn’t have to worry about his job just yet. But he can avoid entering next season on the hot seat by getting the Gophers to a bowl this year.

Indiana is in a similar position, as the Hoosiers have dropped three in a row. However, those three losses have come against Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State, so Indiana wasn’t expected to win any of those games. In fact, the Hoosiers beat the spread against both Ohio State and Penn State, which is a promising sign.

With wins over the likes of Virginia and Rutgers on their resume, the Hoosiers are 4-4 heading down the stretch. With two more wins, Indiana can get to a bowl game for the third time in four years, which would be a significant accomplishment for the program. On paper, this week’s road game against Minnesota may be the easiest one the Hoosiers have left on their schedule. With that in mind, it’s vital that they win it and bring their losing streak to a stop before the start of November.

Oddly enough, these two teams haven’t met since 2013. This will actually be just the second time the Gophers and Hoosiers have met since 2008. There isn’t much of a rivalry between them. However, as noted, both teams are in desperate need of a win.

Vegas Free NCAAF Betting Pick: Indiana -2.5

My first inclination in this matchup was to favor the more desperate team, which has to be Minnesota. However, the Golden Gophers are such a mess that I’m just not sure if they’ll be able to get their act together, even against a team they’re capable of beating. Indiana, in my opinion, has been a little more consistent against a more challenging schedule this season. I’ll take my chances with the Hoosiers winning by at least a field goal as the road favorite.

The biggest surprise about Minnesota this season is their inability to run the ball with any consistency. Fleck’s teams are almost always good running teams, but that hasn’t been the case with Minnesota this year. As a team, the Gophers are gaining just 3.7 yards per carry. That’s half a yard less than what they averaged a season ago. If they’re going to win games down the stretch, that has to change.

To complicate matters further, there’s a chance the Gophers will be without starting quarterback Zack Annexstad this week after he left the Nebraska game with an injury. It’s worth noting that Tanner Morgan led the Minnesota offense to a couple scores after coming into the game. He also gives the Golden Gophers more of a running threat at the quarterback position. However, Morgan has just 22 career pass attempts. If he starts this week, he’ll also face a more challenging defense against Indiana than he did in Nebraska last week.

On the other side, the Hoosiers have been a little more consistent running the ball this season. Freshman running back Stevie Scott has had his ups and downs during the year, in part because Indiana has been forced to abandon the run upon falling behind in recent weeks. However, he’s gaining 4.9 yards per carry and burst out for 138 yards and two touchdowns against Penn State last week. Needless to say, that’s a promising performance for the young rusher heading down the stretch.

The Indiana offense is also starting to get more from sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who’s thrown for over 200 yards in all five conference games. Turnovers remain an issue for him, but it’s worth noting he’s faced some of the best teams in the Big Ten this year. On the bright side, Ramsey has completed over 70% the last two games, so his confidence is growing.

Ultimately, late-season games in the Big Ten are usually decided by what team can run the ball better. In this matchup, that team is Indiana. It also doesn’t hurt that the Hoosiers are a lot more reliable at the quarterback spot. Even as road favorites, I feel comfortable picking Indiana to win and cover the 2.5-point spread.

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