It’s no disrespect to what coach P.J. Fleck has accomplished, but Minnesota is not a Top 10 team and certainly not worth discussing in the College Football Playoff debate, which is a waste of time at this point anyway.
If the Gophers upset Iowa today and whip Wisconsin on Nov. 30, Fleck will get his crack at the Big Ten championship and the critics. There’s still much to prove beyond a victory over Penn State, the only quality opponent on Minnesota’s hit list.
As a home underdog last week, Fleck guided the Gophers to a golden moment in their biggest win of the decade. So this looks like the perfect time for a fall, which is one reason situational handicappers are playing the favorite. Minnesota’s 9-0 record includes only three road wins against weak defenses — Fresno State, Purdue and Rutgers.
The Hawkeyes have dealt with tough luck in Big Ten play, losing three times by a total of 14 points. All of the losses were to ranked teams — Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin — with a combined record of 22-5.
Iowa has the nation’s No. 4 scoring defense (11.7 points per game), a senior quarterback in Nathan Stanley and a four-game win streak in this rivalry. The Gophers have not won in Iowa City since 1999.
My bet is Iowa as a 3-point favorite, and here are more plays for Saturday:
377-Texas (plus-7) over IOWA STATE —
Tom Herman’s track record as an underdog is far from a top-secret angle. Herman is 14-4 ATS with 11 outright wins as a ‘dog as the Houston and Texas coach. What’s more important is his defense is getting better and healthier. The Longhorns outgained Kansas State 477 to 304 in last week’s win. Texas won the past three meetings with the Cyclones by 14, 10 and 21 points. I’ll take the points with Herman and quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
382-BAYLOR (plus-10.5) over Oklahoma —
The unbeaten Bears are disrespected home ‘dogs, similar to Minnesota a week ago. In his past six games as an underdog, Baylor coach Matt Rhule is 6-0 ATS with five straight-up wins. Defensive problems are resurfacing for the Sooners, who allowed a total of 89 points in their past two games to Iowa State and Kansas State.
402-MISSISSIPPI (plus-21.5) over LSU —
Joe Burrow turned the tide against Nick Saban’s defense last week, connecting on 31 of 39 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-41 win at Alabama. A year after totaling only 16 touchdown passes, Burrow has 33 through nine games. He’s the odds-on Heisman Trophy favorite after opening as a 200-1 shot.
But if there is ever a prime time to play LSU, this seems to be it. The Tigers could be in for a letdown. The Rebels, who have covered five of their past six games, boast the SEC’s No. 1 rushing offense (247.4 yards per game), an essential element in controlling the clock and keeping Burrow on the sideline in a ‘dog fight.
Due to time constraints, we move ahead to further action. Other plays:
325-Indiana (plus-14.5) over Penn State
333-Louisville (-4) over NC State
349-UCLA (plus-21) over Utah
362-California (plus-4.5) over USC
363-Arizona (plus-27.5) over Oregon
372-Auburn (plus-3) over Georgia
400-Nebraska (plus-14.5) over Wisconsin
Last week: 3-4 against the spread