The Minnesota Golden Gophers are in first place in the Big Ten West and have won four consecutive games.
Minnesota is playing at home this Saturday and are a 15-points favorite over their opponent, Illinois.
The Fighting Illini started out scoring 30 points in each of their first two games (winning one, losing the other). They haven’t topped 24 points since and have only reach 20 points in five of their last seven games.
Of course, a couple of weeks ago Illinois went on the road and beat a ranked Penn State team in a wild nine-overtime contest. Then went out the next week and fell to Rutgers at home.
Would it be a surprise if Illinois pulled off an upset? But will anyone actually pick it?
Here’s this week’s predictions from around the web:
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Minnesota 27, Illinois 14. "This will get mucky, and there won’t be anything aesthetically pleasing about this, but the Gophers will run through the Illinois D just enough to control the game and hold on late.”
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Minnesota 24, Illinois 20. “We saw Illinois stun Penn State two weeks ago. The Gophers, who just lost a third running back for the season, are down to two freshmen at that crucial position in their ball-control attack. With a gigantic game on deck at Iowa and on the heels of P.J. Fleck signing an extension through the 2028 season, perhaps the Gophers will be a little flat.”
Gabe Salgado of Athlon Sports: Minnesota 31, Illinois 14. “Both teams will run the ball early and often, but with Minnesota having both a better defense and a stronger passing attack, the Gophers pick up another win at home.”
Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara: Minnesota 21, Illinois 13. “Who else was surprised to see Minnesota in the top 20 of the committee’s first rankings? It’s kind of strange that a team without any quality wins and a loss to a MAC team is ranked this high, but that’s not Minnesota’s problem. The Golden Gophers’ problem is that they can’t keep a running back healthy. They have had 3 RBs suffer season-ending injuries. But the beat rolls on for the Golden Gophers (6-2, 4-1), who suddenly have one of the country’s top rush defenses after having one of the worst in 2020. That’s key against Illinois (3-6, 2-4), a team that can only generate offense on the ground.”
Mark Hasty of Go Iowa Awesome: Minnesota 24, Illinois 13.
Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller: Minnesota 27, Illinois 10.
Joe DiTullio of GameHaus: Minnesota.
Bill Connelly of ESPN: His S&P+ projection has it Minnesota 35, Illinois 17.
All three Athlon Sports analysts pick Minnesota to win.
All 11 over at The Spun are selecting Minnesota.