SOC - Minnesota
This is gonna be a short one. The train got in about 40 minutes late (can you imagine?), so I didn't get to my hotel room until after midnight. I'm already pretty tired as I sit here typing so I know that this is going to be short.
Now, I can extend it for you if you'd like. Carmen rode the train with me this time, so we went to the observation car and recorded a podcast. If you'd like to extend your SOC experience by 1 hour and 22 minutes, here's a podcast episode you can listen to:
If you don't want to do that - if you want to save the pod for when you're raking leaves on Sunday - then just skip down here and read my (brief) words on the Minnesota game tomorrow.
I feel like this one will be close. I might even predict overtime. I keep going back and forth on whether I think we'll win or lose, and I still can't figure out which side of the fence I'll end up on, so maybe that's just my brain telling me that this one will come down to the final minute like the last two games.
(Oh man I just legitimately nodded off. I'm gonna have to race to get this one done before my brain completely shuts off. I really need to rethink my whole "don't write it until just before bed" thing. I could have written this on the train, but I didn't because I feel like it will be more SOC-y if I wait until I'm in the room with a single light on and all of my thoughts from the day slowing down.)
I'm still waiting for our turnover game, but I feel like that comes next week. We're due for a +3 or +4 game, and as much as I'd love to see it tomorrow, I feel like that's gonna be Indiana. And if we don't get a turnover game tomorrow, then I feel like it's going to be very, very close. We can move the ball, but they have a solid defense. Our defense has improved but has still taken a step back from last season while nearly the exact same thing could be said about Minnesota's offense.
The line is currently (let me look this up) Minnesota -1.5 with an over-under of 44. So Vegas expects this game to be Minnesota 23, Illinois 21. That sounds about right? If this was a game being played on a neutral field, Illinois would be favored by 1.5, but with the home field advantage, it's Minnesota -1.5. This continues to feel like a very close game.
And I'm starting to hate close games. We beat Toledo on a last-second field goal, we beat Maryland on a last second field goal, and we lost to Wisconsin on a touchdown with 27 seconds remaining. I guess that's preferrable to losing at Purdue 44-19, but I'm not sure how much more final-minute drama I can take. I melt down into this pile of goo and I'm basically unable to move for the final five minutes of these games.
But I do think that's the kind of game we get tomorrow. These feel like two identical teams to me. Both lost a lot in the offseason. Both have struggled. Our offense matches up well with their defense and their offensive struggles match our defensive struggles. I don't want it to be, but I feel like this game comes down to the final drive...
...which doesn't result in points, sending the game to overtime tied 20-20. So now I have to decide whether we win or lose.
Dammit, I think we lose.
Minnesota 26, Illinois 23 (OT)