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You can't win for losing with Gophers

Jul 8, 2008 7:00 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a 10-week series running through Aug. 26 focusing on season openers, individual odds (if on the board), betting strengths and weaknesses among college football’s premier conferences. So clip and save.

by Mark Mayer | Most of the preseason previews regarding the Big Ten would start with Ohio State and Michigan.

Not here.

In betting terms, Minnesota catches our eye. That and one note about Ohio State to remember. The Buckeyes play at Southern Cal on Sept. 13. It’s the games that sandwich USC that intrigue us – Ohio on Sept. 6 and Troy on Sept. 20. Both are at Ohio Stadium so figure concentration problems in dealing with at least four touchdown spots.

Now back to the Golden Gophers.

Minnesota (1-11 SU, 6-5 ATS): The Gophers went 0-8 in the Big Ten and 1-6 SU at home. But, and this is big, Minny was 4-2 ATS at the Metrodome and 3-1 ATS as a home dog. Keep that in mind when Michigan visits Nov. 15. Also, the -15 in turnovers has to change.

Ohio St (11-1, 7-4): It was remarkable that the Buckeyes only lost one game considering their +/- turnover ratio was -1! Success came on the road, where OSU was 4-1 ATS including a 14-3 victory over Michigan as a 4-point away favorite.

Michigan (7-5, 5-7): It’s the Rich Rodriguez regime in Ann Arbor, which promises a more wide open offense and speed that RR employed at West Virginia. Michigan was 3-0 SU on the road as a favorite, which is good. Plus, the Wolverines didn’t schedule Appalachian State!

Illinois (9-4, 7-5): The Illini were also a surprise at 9-4 with a turnover ratio of -9 in Big Ten play. Illinois was proficient in conference games, going 6-2 ATS. Keep an eye on the over, which was 8-2 last season. Illinois scores and gets scored upon.

Indiana (7-6, 7-5): The Hoosiers are starting to get the idea, scheduling Western Kentucky in the opener. Indiana was opportunistic last season, posting a +7 turnover ratio and a 5-2 ATS mark at home that included 2-0 as a dog in Bloomington.

Wisconsin (9-4, 5-7): The only game Wisconsin covered on the road was against UNLV in a pick’em game, 20-13. Forget the nine wins, this was a bad bet. The Badgers were 2-6 ATS in league play, 0-4 as an away dog. The over, however, worked real well – going 9-3.

Purdue (8-5, 6-6): The Boilermakers also have a gimme opener at home against Northern Colorado the week after (Sept. 6) most teams start. Purdue was a beast against nonconference teams, going 5-0 SU and 3-1 ATS. The Boilers beat Central Michigan twice.

Penn St (9-4, 7-5): That Joe Pa is a hoot! Let him coach until he’s 100. Penn State could jump out 4-0 after beating Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, Syracuse and Temple. Let’s see Bowden pass Paterno now! Penn State was 5-0 ATS out of conference last year.

Iowa (6-6, 6-6): The stats would suggest the Hawkeyes were an underachiever. The turnover ratio was +7 (+10 on the road), the defense allowed 16 points or less six times, and Iowa was 2-0 ATS as a home underdog.

Michigan St (7-6, 7-6): The Spartans were a team you wanted to be on as an underdog, especially away from East Lansing. MSU was 4-1 ATS in both categories. An area of improvement needs to come in league play where the Spartans were 3-5 SU.

Northwestern (6-6, 4-7): The Wildcats open at home with Syracuse, a game that looks a lot easier these days. The over was 8-3 in Northwestern games due in part we think to a miserable -12 turnover ratio in Big Ten play. The ‘Cats were also just 1-3 ATS as an underdog.

Next week: The Big 12.

Copyright 2008 GamingToday
Big Ten openers
SATURDAY, AUG. 30
Syracuse at Northwestern
Coastal Carolina at Penn St
Youngstown St at Ohio St
Illinois at Missouri
W. Kentucky at Indiana
Maine at Iowa
Utah at Michigan
Michigan St at California
No. Illinois at Minnesota
Akron at Wisconsin
SATURDAY, SEPT. 6
No. Colorado at Purdue