Weekly Big Ten Betting Report
by Trevor Whenham - 9/12/2011
Coming into the season it seemed like the Big Ten was a deep and promising conference with a whole lot of unanswered questions. A lot of those questions still remain, but the conference has produced some thrilling and often surprising football to date.
The Wolverines are 2-0 and they just won the most exciting game of the season. Fans are giddy. There’s a problem, though -- the team really is pretty terrible. The offense is wildly inconsistent and only Denard Robinson’s magic and some horrible secondary play by Notre Dame got them the win.
The defense is better than last year, but that’s not saying much and they are still far from good. They have an incredible amount of work to do before conference play starts. They play a hopelessly outclassed Eastern Michigan squad next time out, so it’s a perfect opportunity to work on their issues.
If they don’t look like a much more polished, disciplined team on Saturday then there are serious issues. Michigan is favored by 29.
Kirk Cousins seeks revenge
Two years ago Cousins had a chance to lead his Michigan State Spartans to a win in South Bend, but he threw a lousy interception late in the game to seal the Notre Dame win. Now he has revenge on his mind, and he has a better team around him now than he did then.
Notre Dame has all sorts of vulnerabilities to exploit. If the Spartans can exploit them then it’s really time to start believing in them. The Irish are favored by 5.5.
Jerry Kill falls ill
The new Minnesota coach has a history of seizure, and the problem struck again late in his home debut against New Mexico State on Saturday. He’s reportedly fine, but he likely won’t return to practice until at least Wednesday.
Kill has the team working reasonably well together despite two losses, and against USC in the opener they showed some periodic flashes of brilliance. This is a team that can’t afford any distractions, though, so it will be very important to watch how Kill recovers and whether his issues limit him in coming weeks.
Minnesota is a 3.5 point favorite at home against Miami (Ohio).
Dave Doeren goes home
Doeren, the former popular Wisconsin defensive coordinator, became the first assistant who served under Bret Bielema to get a head coaching gig when he took over at Northern Illinois in the offseason. Now Doeren brings his squad to Madison for the biggest game of his career.
Doeren and the Huskies are obviously badly outmatched by the Badgers, but they will have more insight to their opponents than most teams could ever dream of. Can Doeren and company make this one at least interesting? The Badgers are favored by 16.
Penn State QB issues
Having two starting quarterbacks is only slightly better than having none. The Nittany Lions were one of many teams that came into the season with unresolved QB questions. Unfortunately, while others have figured things out Penn State doesn’t seem any closer to a resolution.
The lack of a chosen starter has unquestionably been a distraction that is hurting the team badly. If Joe Paterno still wants to prove he can coach he needs to make a statement here, pick a horse to run with, and let things turn out as they will. This week they visit Temple and they are favored by 9.5 points, according to college football odds. This would be the perfect chance to pick a starter and let him build confidence.
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