Doc's Sports Weekly Big Ten Football Betting Report
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/1/2011
Red October. Don’t look now, but Ohio State is playing the best football in the Big Ten. And things are about to get a whole lot easier for the Buckeyes.
They are riding a two-game winning streak and a 10-game November winning streak dating back to 2007.
Maybe no win was as memorable as their 33-29 thriller against the tough-luck Badgers that came complete with Braxton Miller late-game heroics.
"This is what Ohio State's about," Buckeye interim-Coach Luke Fickell said. "We don't ever look at ourselves as underdogs. This is a huge win, a signature win. This is for this team, this is for this program. This is what we expect."
Make no mistake why things are different: Dan Herron is back from a suspension. He has already rushed for 274 yards in two wins. Starting left tackle Mike Adams is also back. This has made things easier on Miller, who looks like a completely different football player.
The news gets better for Ohio State as top playmaker DeVier Posey will return from suspension for the Nov. 19 showdown against Penn State. The Buckeyes went 4-0 SU and ATS against their remaining four opponents last season (Indiana, at Purdue, Penn State, at Michigan).
The against the spread record is impressive because last season they were favored between 16.5 to 24.5 points against those four teams. Ohio State should not be an underdog until the regular-season finale against Michigan, and we know how the Buckeyes play in that rivalry.
If the chips fall the right way, Ohio State (5-3, 2-2) could even backdoor their way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.
Golden Contract. Suddenly that seven-year deal the Minnesota Golden Gophers handed to Jerry Kill doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
After a horrendous 1-6 start where it lost its three Big Ten games by a total score of 144-31, Minnesota stunned Iowa, 22-21, as 14.5-point underdogs at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday.
Kill pulled out all the tricks to help lead Minnesota back from deficits of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-10. Trailing 21-16 after a fourth-quarter touchdown put Minnesota within five, Kill called for an onside kick that Minnesota recovered, drove 59 yards in 12 plays and then scored on a three-yard MarQueis Gray touchdown plunge to go ahead.
"I'm very, very, very happy for our players and our university and the state of Minnesota," said Kill. "It was a team effort out there today. I think that our game was a great college atmosphere. I truly believe that the fans and the students and our players played with a lot of emotion today. I think we all should be tired. I know I'm tired."
Defensive Conference. Perhaps the best way to describe the Big Ten Conference this season is by looking at the recently announced semifinalists for the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards.
The Maxwell Award is given annually to the best player in college football (read: best offensive player). The Bednarik trophy goes to the top defensive player in the country.
Only Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson made the Maxwell semifinalist list, and you have to think his chances are dashed after back-to-back losses.
But in a conference that has been defined by strong defensive play this season, four Big Ten players made the cut for the Bednarik trophy. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still made the list of 16 semifinalists.
Happy Valley. In spite of all the facts saying they shouldn’t be, the Penn State Nittany Lions are 8-1 and enjoying a comfortable 2.5-game lead over Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue in the Leaders Division.
Penn State escaped again this week with a 10-7 win at home over Illinois. They took their first lead with 1:08 to play and didn’t secure the win until a potential Illinois game-tying field goal clanged off the uprights in wintery conditions at Happy Valley.
"For all the fans out there, thanks for sitting through that today," Joe Paterno said after the game. "You've got to be nuts!"
Penn State is 8-1 SU, but 2-7 ATS, a testament of their inability to win games convincingly even against the likes of Purdue (23-18) or Indiana (16-10) or even Temple (14-10).
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