Doc's Weekly Big Ten Betting Report
by Doc - 9/5/2011
The Big Ten got off to a rousing start last week with all 12 teams in action. Most were against weak mid-majors in an obvious effort to fatten the record and make sure that the conference can get as many bowl bids as humanly possible. In all, the teams did what they were expected to do as 10 of the 12 Big Ten squads won.
The only losses were Indiana, as they came seven points short against Ball State in Indianapolis on Saturday, and Minnesota, who played better than the experts predicted at Southern Cal. Weather also played a major role in a couple of games, as Michigan and Iowa had to halt play because of severe weather with the Wolverines calling it a day after just short of three quarters of play. Things will certainly get tougher for the conference in the weeks coming with some key nonconference games on the horizon.
The following will examine the highlights of a few games and preview a very important week ahead.
In all four new coaches made their debut on Saturday as Big Ten head coaches and three of the four put forth an outstanding effort. It appears Minnesota made the right hire in Jerry Kill as he led the Golden Gophers into Southern Cal and came within two points of a major upset. The team played with confidence, and that should bode well for them going forward. They did not play with any confidence under Tim Brewster and only beat mid-majors and bottom-feeder Big Ten teams during his tenure. The Gophers are back in action this week against New Mexico State and they will enter this game at approximately a 19-point favorite. This will be the first home game for Kill and you can bet that he will want to make an impression to keep the fan base hungry.
Michigan and Ohio State both took care of business against MAC teams on Saturday afternoon. Michigan was down early, 7-0, and thoughts of ‘here we go again’ must have crept into the minds of the 100,000-plus at the Big House. But Michigan eventually wore down the Broncos, and it is evident that Brady Hoke wants to reestablish the running game at Michigan. The Wolverines had a 2/1 run/pass ratio and were well on their way to a cover before Mother Nature showed up. That is right, by Las Vegas rules all bets had to be refunded since the game did not go at least 55 minutes. This is terrible news if you bet on Michigan and great news if you had a wager on Western Michigan.
Despite this performance, Michigan still enters as an underdog next week against Notre Dame, a team that could not get out of its own way against USF on Saturday. Ohio State did what they were expected to do against Akron in the debut of Coach Luke Fickell. They will have another cupcake this week before getting their first team of the season in two weeks at Miami (FL).
Quarterbacking to Victory
Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson had huge expectations placed on him when he transferred from NC State and I felt it would be hard for him to live up to all the hype that was placed on him. He certainly did not disappoint in game one against UNLV, a team that does not belong on the same field with the Badgers. It has been quite some time since Wisconsin has had a dual-threat at quarterback, but a 46-yard touchdown run by Wilson at the end of the second quarter will put fear into defensive coordinators across the country.
The Badgers now will host Oregon State next Saturday, and going into this week I felt if the line was more than two touchdowns I would side with the Beavers. But after Oregon State lost to Sacramento State, the early line is Wisconsin -18. It will be interesting to see how the Beavers can bounce back from such an embarrassing loss.
The other quarterback in the Big Ten I was keeping a keen eye on was Dan Persa from Northwestern. Persa went out with a leg injury late last season and the tam completely fell apart without him and did not win a game after Nov.13. I was going to use the Wildcats as a selection, but I was told by my scouts that Persa was not healthy and as it turns out he did not even play last Saturday against Boston College. What is even more amazing is that they did not even need him, as the Wildcats rallied behind backup Kain Colter to win at Boston College, 24-17. This is something Northwestern could not do last season and should give them lots of confidence going forward. They will likely not need to play QB Persa this week either, since they host Eastern Illinois. It is now possible that Northwestern could be undefeated heading into Iowa on Oct. 15.
What Lies Ahead
Week 2 of the Big Ten Conference season features an outstanding schedule, highlighted by the Alabama at Penn State game. Penn State could not stay with the Tide last season in Tuscaloosa. However, getting them at State College should make for a much more competitive game. The early line has Alabama as a double-digit favorite since the Nittany Lions still have questions surrounding the play of their quarterbacks. This would be a great swan song victory for Coach Joe Paterno, as I believe that this will be his final season. You know that the Lions players will be giving it their all.
Other attractive matchups this week in the Big Ten include Oregon State at Wisconsin, Notre Dame at Michigan, and Iowa at Iowa State. It would not surprise me if two of these three games feature a road team cover. In all it’s a much better card this week and many of our selections will come from this conference. The race for the best team still appears to be wide open and I cannot wait for conference play starting on Oct.1.
Best of luck and we will talk again next week
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