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Here's the underdog most deserving of your attention this Saturday:
Michigan quarterback Joe Milton is gearing up for his first collegiate start. The redshirt sophomore is a tantalizing prospect with tremendous upside as both a runner and a passer. Transitioning from Jake Rudock to Shea Patterson to Milton in just a few years, the Wolverines have increasingly emphasized pushing the ball downfield. Is this the year the offense truly opens up?
It might be a tall task for offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Gone are wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones (draft), Tarik Black (transfer), and Nico Collins (opt-out). Ronnie Bell and Mike Sainristil will both be great underneath safety blankets for Milton, but Michigan lacks a true alpha on the perimeter. That will put more pressure on sophomore running back Zach Charbonnet and an offensive line that lost four of last season's starters.
Milton seems like a good fit in Gattis' vertical offense, especially down the road. But it's hard to trust an inexperienced unit to move the ball up and down the field in its first road game of the year. We've seen this time and again under head coach Jim Harbaugh, whether it was the 2015 opener at Utah or the 2018 edition at Notre Dame. To make matters worse, Harbaugh has been terrible against the spread away from home, covering just five of the last seven.
Minnesota's offense, meanwhile, is loaded top to bottom. Quarterback Tanner Morgan's stock soared after he logged 3,253 passing yards with 30 touchdowns last season. Stud receiver and projected first-rounder Rashod Bateman (60 catches, 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns in 2019) is back, as is a veteran offensive line.
This feels like a patented P.J. Fleck game. The head coach has covered seven of the last nine games when the Golden Gophers are underdogs. He pulled off two crucial upsets last season, edging Penn State at home and Auburn in the bowl game. Fleck has also been a terrific bet against the Big Ten, covering eight of the last 10 conference games.
Minnesota might not even need the three points Saturday.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.