Friday, October 24, 2014

Is it a trap? Gophers vs Illinois

Favored by -12.5 against Purdue at home.  Was that a trap game?

Favored by -6.5 against Illinois at Champagne this weekend.  Maybe that's the trap?

The bye week certainly isn't a trap, but what about the following week at home versus Iowa.  Trap?

Everyone seems to be calling each game a trap these days.  I realized that I don't know what the hell a trap even is except you lose when you don't expect to.  Some nerds at Harvard defined the trap game as a game against a lesser opponent preceding a game against a better opponent.  In that case, I guess Iowa would most qualify as a trap game presuming you think the Gophers are better than Iowa.  Iowa lost to The Turtle last week and has a loss against the Cyclones in non-conference play.  They will likely get handled by Northwestern a week from Saturday at Kinnick.  So yeah, let's assume they are worse then our Gophers.  Then the Gophs face Ohio State at home the following week, which will be a game they most certainly are not favored in.

Back to Harvard... they did an analysis of "trap games" in the NFL between (2002-11) and found that in so called trap games, the favored team won at a percentage consistent with other (non-trap) games where they are favored.  In fact, they won ever so slightly more often.  There were similar results for "let down games", i.e. games against a lesser opponent after beating a strong opponent.

So, in this non-trap matchup with the Illini, what can we expect?  The line at Bovada stands at Gophers -6 right now with an o/u of 56.  Illinois lost 38-28 to the Badgers in their last game and is now 3-4 (0-3) on the year.  They lost quarterback Wes Lunt to injury against Purdue, but the offense was still working with Reilly O'Toole and rushing QB Aaron Bailey leading the way.  The team averages 304 yards passing per game, but that's mostly due to Wes Lunt-ness.  Guy was slangin' rocks.  Now you have Bailey running and O'Toole throwing it around like the boys.

Tim Beckman thinks the Gophers will struggle with the dual QBs, "I think that for them to prepare for two is always a little more challenging than to prepare for one."

Here's the thing though, one looks like he's a glorified tailback and the other was efficient (12/19), but threw for 96 yards last week.  He was also sacked four times, so look for the Gopher d-line to put on some pressure.  Freshman WR Mike Dudek is having a good year receiving for the Illini.  He has 37 receptions for 598 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Irish assassin O'Toole will need to find him early to get some points on the board.

Obviously, Illinois scores some points here, but probably not as easily as Purdue did last week with their death-by-bubble-screen attack. There will be some bending.  There may be some breakage.  What we do know though is the defense is the softest of Swiss cheeses.  Which makes them Laughing Cow I guess?  Illinois gives up 35.9 points per contest including letting Texas State (who?) hang 42 on them.

My prediction is similar to many pundits this week.  The David (Daniel?) Cobb ground and pound will continue and the defense and specials will continue to make plays.  The Gopher secondary will make it tough for O'Toole and hopefully bear down on Bailey.  Minnesota 34 - Illinois 24.

Oh, almost forgot (scotch):

Illinois All-Namers:

V'Angelo Bentley DB - Nice take on the uber boring D'Angelo
Marchie Murdock WR - Marchie'ing down the field shtick in play
Man Berg QB - Full given name is Peter Bailey Berg ... Goes by "Man".  What in the everloving F?  Father is an EVP at CBS, man.
Jihad Ward DL - Declares Jihad on OL's each week
Dawuane Smoot DL - PARTY BOAT, Y'ALL!

Apostrophe Count: 3 including O'Toole and O'Connor