Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. No. 17 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS), Saturday, October 24th, 2009, 12 p.m. Eastern, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH; TV: ESPN
By Oracle of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Minnesota +17/Ohio State -17
Over/Under: 41

It seems as though neither the Minnesota Golden Gophers nor the Ohio State Buckeyes want to vie for any part of the Big Ten Conference Championship this season, as they are both coming off of losses they needed last weekend to stay in the thick of things.

Granted, neither team is out of the hunt, but with a Top 10 squad (Iowa) that is undefeated at the top of the standings, things are looking bleak.

The Buckeyes went into last weeks game tied for the Big Ten lead and faced an opponent in Purdue that was mired in a five game skid. In a shocker where they were favored by nearly two touchdowns, they lost 26-18.

The loss dropped them to No. 17 in the country and not even in the BCS standings that just came out. Meanwhile, Minnesota, who was considered a dark horse candidate this season in conference play, was downright awful in a 20-0 defeat at Penn State last week.

So which team will be the one to bounce back from those ugly losses?

Well, online sportsbooks think it wont even be a question. They opened up with Ohio State huge favorites -17, as they are playing at their home in Ohio Stadium in a nationally televised game on ESPN at 12 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

That line has already moved slightly to -18. Keep in mind the Buckeyes were favorites -12 against Purdue on the road just last week.

Minnesota didnt do much for bettors last weekend though. They were big dogs on the road against the Nittany Lions -17 at some sportsbooks and they still couldnt cover that spread.

Something has to give on Saturday.

The over/under hasnt come out at a lot of books yet, but for the ones who have it, the total is at 41.

Ohio States loss to Purdue was very puzzling, only because their defense has been their strong suit this season. It hasnt been just this past week though, as theyve given up an average of over 18 points per game in their last three. To a normal team, thats a pretty good mark. But were talking about OSUs defense here.

Purdue chopped them up for 362 yards 281 coming in the air. A big stat was time of possession, as Purdue garnered 26 first downs and held the ball for over 36 minutes. Even with the struggles, OSU gives up just 284 yards per game (16th in the nation) and 14 points (11th).

Speaking of struggling, quarterback Terrelle Pryor was pretty bad against Purdue by throwing two interceptions and rushing 21 times for just 34 yards. Starting running back Daniel Herron has been knicked up most of the year and was out again against Purdue. His status is questionable for this week. Without a solid running game, teams are focusing on the young quarterback, as he is pretty much their only offensive threat to this point.

Minnesotas shutout defeat is also puzzling. Before that, the Golden Gophers lowest score total was 20 points in the second week of the year. In fact, during their last three games they have averaged nearly 33 points.

Minnesota was bad on both sides of the ball, giving up 464 yards to Penn State while gaining just 138 themselves.

The Golden Gophers have been having somewhat the same issues as OSU. Theyre a one-dimensional team with one weapon wide receiver Eric Decker. Other than that, they struggle in the run game with their trio of backs. Defenses are able to lock up on Decker with double coverage because of Minnesotas average ground game that mustered 37 yards against PSU.

Last year Minnesota lost to Ohio State, 34-21. Golden Gophers starting
quarterback Adam Weber completed 23 passes that game, but for just
187 yards and an interception. DeLeon Eskridge actually had some mild success
running the ball with 76 yards as well. Theyll need a similar performance
if they want to defeat OSU.

Pryor had a big impact in that win by rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 70 yards and one more score.

Minnesota covered the large +20 spread as a dog in last years game and the over came in as well, which was at 50 points.

The road team being the Golden Gophers in the case is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 head-to-head contests. Minnesota hasnt lost to many games back-to-back as far as the spread goes, as theyre 4-1 ATS after not covering the previous week.

OSU has a nice trend themselves by having a perfect 5-0 mark ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record.

The spread is a tough one to figure, considering Ohio State has a good defense and both teams have above average offenses for the most part. A lot of under trends go OSUs way including a 5-0-1 mark in their last six overall games.

This game will mean quite a lot come Big Ten standings time. Both squads have their back against a wall, so who will be the first to make a move?

Oracles Pick: We know Minnesota is on the road and we know that OSUs defense is pretty good. But its hard to imagine them not coming out with a chip on their shoulder after getting shutout last week and not even covering a +17 spread. Look for them to redeem bettors by covering this BIG spread. Take Minnesota +18!