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Gambling: College Football Week 11 Picks Against the Spread
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9 Nov 2018 01:43 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Maryland running back Anthony McFarland. (Image Source: UMTerps)

Here are my picks against the spread for Week 11 (Last Week: 2-1; Overall: 19-12-1):

Maryland +2 INDIANA

There are a couple of things in play here. One, Maryland is the better team. They score more points. They allow fewer points. They average more yards per play (6.0 to 5.4). They allow fewer yards per play (4.9 to 5.8). That pretty much covers most of it.

Moreover, expect the Hoosiers to see the good Terps. Who are the good Terps? Well, there are two different Maryland teams, at least in conference play. They struggle against the better B1G foes: zero offensive points through three quarters at Michigan, shutout at Iowa, held to three points by Michigan State. Those are the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3-ranked defenses in the Big Ten. Maryland is fourth by the way. Their defense has been underrated all season.

However, against the lesser B1G teams, the Terps light it up: 42-13 over Minnesota, 42-21 over Rutgers, and 63-33 over Illinois. That’s the Maryland that’s going to show up in Bloomington against an Indiana team whose only conference win is against Rutgers, by seven points. They will shut down IU’s offense and should be able to run the ball on the Hoosiers, as their solid O-line will handle Indiana’s mediocre front which will allow their dynamic backs to have big games. The combo of Anthony McFarland (6.9 YPC) and Ty Johnson (7.7 YPC) is explosive.

Yes, the Terps have had to deal with terrible off-field issues, but that’s been the case all season. They’ve now had a week to put last week’s debacle behind them and regroup. Maryland picks up their sixth win on Saturday to become bowl eligible. The big money is on the Terps as 63 percent of tickets make up 82 percent of the cash (per PreGame.com).

Purdue -11 MINNESOTA

This is the second-biggest mismatch in this week’s B1G slate (after Michigan at Rutgers). The Boilermakers have one of the most explosive offenses in the conference and they lead the Big Ten with their 6.9 yards per play. This isn’t just a big-play offense (second in the nation with 23 plays of 40-plus yards), it’s a balanced one (8.4 yards per pass/5.0 yards per run). David Blough has developed into a reliable passer and there’s no shortage of weapons around him. By now, you’ve seen Rondale Moore’s highlights, but he’s not the only pass catcher Minnesota has to worry about, as three other Boilermakers average at least 16.5 yards per reception, while D.J. Knox (6.3 YPC) has emerged as true RB1.

How do the Gophers matchup? Not well. In B1G games Minnesota has allowed 43.1 PPG. They allow opponents to complete 65 percent of their passes (worst in the B1G) and have given up 18 TD passes (12th), which plays right into Purdue’s ability to get their players in space and do damage after the catch. The run defense is even worse (it’s as if opponents are rowing upstream), as their 5.8 yards per rush allowed is last in the conference. Illinois put up 55 points and ran for 430 yards against them last week, which led to the firing of their defensive coordinator. Because they’re balanced, Jeff Brohm won’t hesitate to attack the opponent’s weakness, which he’s done all season.

Can Minnesota keep up? Purdue will shut down the run (4th in the B1G in rush defense) and I don’t believe the Gophers will do enough through the air to keep the margin under two touchdowns, especially since it appears they will be without their left tackle.

IOWA -10.5 Northwestern

How is Iowa even a double-digit favorite some might ask? Haven’t the Hawkeyes dropped their past two games? Isn’t Northwestern in first place in the West? Aren’t the ‘Cats 3-0-1 as a clear underdog with outright wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin, as well as a near upset of Michigan? Yes, all of those things are true, yet the Hawkeyes are a double-digit favorite.

Believe it or not, there’s value here…just stay with me for a moment. The gap on the field and in terms of production (0.9 more yards per play; 0.8 fewer yards per play allowed) between Iowa and Northwestern is far greater than Penn State (-9.5) over Wisconsin or Ohio State (-3.5) over Michigan State, yet the lines (when factoring for home field) are comparable. Moreover, the gap is at least as big, if not greater, than Nebraska (-17) over Illinois, where you have to lay an extra touchdown. So, despite the standings, Iowa might actually provide the most value of any B1G team this week.  

Northwestern’s offense is bad folks. How bad? Their 4.5 yards per play is 126th in the country! Only Rutgers is worse in the Big Ten. How are they going to move the ball against an Iowa defense that allows just 4.7 yards per play, which is ranked 8th in the nation, and is fifth nationally in run defense? A one-dimensional Wildcats offense will allow the Hawkeyes pass rush (ends A.J. Epenesa & Anthony Nelson have combined for 13.5 sacks of their 26 sacks) to tee off against the B1G’s most porous pass protection (24 sacks allowed/98th nationally).

While some of the trends point towards the Wildcats, the Hawkeyes are 6-0 against the spread this season as a favorite and 4-1 against the number in Kinnick.  

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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