Coming off a Bye Week, 4-1 Minnesota will hit the road to face red hot 5-1, #24 Illinois in Week 7.
The Minnesota Gophers are coming off a MUCH needed bye week. Star RB, Mo Ibrahim, was a late game time scratch against Purdue that nobody saw coming and it affected the Gophers immensely. There were also a few other injuries to the Gophers that happened during the game, so an extra week of rest was key! The offense, defense, special teams, and coaching decisions all seemed to be sleep walking versus Purdue. This is annoying because the same thing happened in last year's homecoming game. I still vote homecoming be banished to hell at the UofM from this day forth. The good news is that this loss isn't the end of the world; Purdue is a very good team. Instead, it was a humbling reminder that you need to bring your A-game when playing a Big Ten schedule. There are a few teams in the Big Ten that are playing at a very low level, but most matchups can go either way if one team doesn't show up on any given Saturday.
On to the Week 7! Minnesota travels to Champaign, IL to face the #24 Illinois Fighting Illini. This is going to be a defensive battle as Illinois comes in with the #1 scoring defense and Minnesota comes in with the #2 scoring defense. These teams also run similar offenses. RB Chase Brown and RB Mo Ibrahim are #1 and #2 in rushing yards per game in the Big Ten. The biggest question mark coming into this game is the ankle injury to Illinois QB Tommy Devito. He injured his ankle last week against Iowa and didn't return. He is listed as questionable for this matchup, at the moment. Vegas is clearly taking this into account as the Gophers come into this game favored as the road team against the newly ranked Illinois.
What to watch for:
The Gophers have never beat Head Coach Bret Bielema.
Under PJ Fleck, the Gophers have never lost coming off of a Bye Week.
RB Mo Ibrahim (should be fully healthy) vs RB Chase Brown.
QB Tanner Morgan vs whoever plays QB for Illinois.
Which defense will win the turnover battle? Battle of the Defenses!
The Gophers are 6.5 point favorites and the o/u is set at 39 points. I predict the Gophers will have a great bounce back game, win the turnover battle, and the return of Mo Ibrahim will help lead the Gophers to a 23-16 victory on the road against the Fighting Illini. Let's go, Gophers!