Buffalo Bulls (0-0) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-0)
NCAAF: Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 7:00pm EST
Line: Minnesota -25
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will collide with the Buffalo Bulls in week one action Thursday night from TCF Bank Stadium. The Bulls posted a 2-10 record last season and went 1-7 on conference play, and the Golden Gophers finished last year with a 9-4 record and 5-4 mark in Big Ten action.
Buffalo Needs QB Tyree Jackson to Take Leap Forward
The Buffalo Bulls are coming off an abysmal season that saw them win just one game in conference play. Tyree Jackson returns as the Bulls starting quarterback after he showed flashes of big potential last season. The 6-foot-7 sophomore quarterback tallied 1772 passing yards with a 9:9 TD to INT ratio in ten games. Jackson will need to progress nicely this season in order for the Bulls to take a big leap forward after last year’s poor offensive production. The Bulls are without their top two receivers from last season as well as their starting running back, however they do have some young talent ready to step in. The Bulls top commit is wide receiver Rodney Scott who is rated as a four-star receiver, and should make an immediate impact. Buffalo will be going with a trio on the ground which includes Jonathan Hawkins who rushed for 338 yards last season.
The Buffalo defense will be the strength of this team as they return several starters from last season. They will be led by Khalil Hodge who accumulated 123 tackles last season, and they should excel at defending the pass this season. Buffalo should show improvement this season, however, they are not ready to compete atop the MAC.
Last season Buffalo struggled offensively, averaging only 16.5 points per game, ranking them 126th overall. The Bulls defense conceded an average of 32.3 points per game, placing them 95th in the Country.
Golden Gophers Going with Tandem at Quarterback
The Minnesota Golden Gophers enter this 2017 season in a retooling phase after a tremendous 2016 season that was highlighted by a win in the Holiday Bowl. The Golden Gophers will have a new quarterback as they will going with the tandem of Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft. Head coach P.J. Fleck has stated both quarterbacks have looked great and both will see playing time in this contest. Minnesota’s greatest strength on offense this season will be their running game led by Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks who both split the duties last season and combined for 1808 rushing yards. Minnesota lost their top receiver last season and will overall they possess a thin receiving core. Rashad Still is the most experienced receiver and he only made 18 receptions for 349 yards last season.
The Golden Gophers defense has some holes to fill defensively and they will not replicate last year’s outstanding defensive squad. They do feature a talented group at linebacker however they are lacking notable depth at on their defensive line. Minnesota still features some strong pieces, but it will be challenging to compete in the tough Big Ten.
Minnesota averaged a solid 29.3 points per game last season, ranking them 63rd in the Country. The Golden Gophers defense was outstanding, allowing 22.1 points per game, placing them 21st in the Nation.
The Buffalo Bulls are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against the Big Ten.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
I am taking the points with Buffalo in this matchup with this high spread. The Golden Gophers will not be as strong defensively as last year, and they are going with a new quarterback as Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft could both see action in this one. Furthermore, Buffalo does have a solid pass defense that ranked 13th in the Country last season, and that should again be that strength of this team, so they should make it difficult for Minnesota to have a lot of success in the air with their new quarterbacks. Minnesota will win this game but I feel this spread is too high.
Pick: Buffalo +25
Minnesota should still have success offensively via their strong running game and Buffalo should have success on the ground as well with three talented running backs and a talented offensive line. The Golden Gophers will likely run the ball against a shaky rush defense, so they should have a strong night offensively, and the over is 7-3 in their last 10 Thursday games. This total is low in my opinion and I believe the over is a strong play.