For years, the Michigan Wolverines have lived and died with a powerful running game. This past Saturday the Wolves surrendered the rush as they had 19 carries for minus-3 yards. The first quarter was the most interesting as Michigan had the ball only 56 seconds while the Ducks had it for more than 14 minutes. However, despite the lack of time of possession, Michigan still held a 6-0 lead. The Wolves' QB John Navarre didn't have a bad day as he completed 28 of 55 passes for 306 yards. That wasn't enough, however, as Michigan had some real mental breakdowns. The game was played in front of the largest crowd ever at Autzen Stadium with 59,023 fans in attendance. The Wolves have now lost four straight road openers. The Ducks are 20-0 in non-conference play at Autzen under coach Mike Bellotti. Michigan will be home this week against Indiana. Installed as a 34-point favorite, the number looks good. But I just wonder if 34 is going to be enough.
Coach Joe Tiller was tired of seeing his team struggle in the gold uniforms so the Boilermakers came out in black on Saturday and proceeded to turn Arizona to black as they handed the Wildcats a 59-7 defeat. QB Kyle Orton had a big day as he threw for three touchdowns. The Boilermakers had 550 yards in total offense, which is the most this club has had in years. One of the big keys to the game was the return of WR John Standeford, who caught four passes for 111 yards. After the game, Arizona coach John Mackovic refused to shake hands with Tiller because he thought Purdue unnecessarily ran up the score. Mackovic has been under pressure to keep his job and this outing certainly won't help his cause. The Boilers are back home this week against Notre Dame. The oddsmakers have made Purdue a 10-point favorite. In my opinion, the Boilermakers are really starting to play well.
It happened in Columbus again as Will Allen intercepted a Josh Harris pass on the final play as Ohio State held off a big Bowling Green charge and won the game, 24-17. The victory marked the 10th time in the last 15 games that the defending National Champion has won a game by a touchdown or less. The Buckeyes went with QB Scott McMullen as regular starter Craig Krenzel was out with a right elbow injury. Ohio State has not lost to another Ohio team since 1921, when they were beat by Oberlin. The Buckeyes will be home this week as they open conference play against Northwestern. This will be Ohio State's fifth-straight home game and they have a bye next week before going on the road to play Wisconsin. As of this writing, no line has been posted for this game. But it will certainly get my attention if an over-compensated line is installed.
It didn't look good for Penn State in the first quarter as they found themselves behind Kent State, 10-0. Freshman RB Austin Scott took over the game as he ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns in his first start. Scott scored his first touchdown in the first quarter with just a minute left. That was the first score in the first quarter for Penn State this season. Kent State was hindered by the fact that it lost its starting QB, Joshua Cribbs, with an ankle injury on the second play of the game. The yardage was a better indicator of the way the game went than the final score. The Nittany Lions had more than 400 yards while Kent State had only 184. Penn State will be home again this week as they play red-hot Minnesota. These two haven't played each other since 2000. The Gophers won that game, 25-16. You will seldom find the Nittany Lions at home as a dog, especially in the Big Ten. However, they will be Saturday as they have been set as a three-point underdog. Looks like I will have to lean towards the favorite here.
It has been really hard to judge just how good this Michigan State team is. However, they may be better than most people think. Notre Dame, after being beaten by Michigan last week, 38-0, fell below .500 for the first time since the 2001 season. The big problem for the Irish is the offense, which has scored only three touchdowns all season. Going into this game, the nation's second worst pass offense went up against the nation's third-worst pass defense. It won't get any easier for the Irish as they play Purdue this coming week. Then they must travel to Pittsburgh and then they will be back home against Southern California. Michigan State will be at home this week against 4-0 Iowa. The Spartans were routed last year by the Hawks, 44-16. Revenge will certainly be a factor here. The Spartans have been installed as a seven-point underdog.
As All-American RB Anthony Davis sat out with an injury, redshirt freshman Booker Stanley ran for three touchdowns and 119 yards as Wisconsin beat North Carolina, 38-27. After being defeated last week in a stunning 23-5 home loss to Las Vegas, the Badgers bounced back against the nation's worst defense. In the game on Saturday, Wisconsin lost another RB in Dwayne Smith, who left the game with a pulled groin. As for Stanley, he had only run the ball nine times for 36 yards previous to this game. Both teams played good at times, however both clubs had trouble with special teams, especially Wisconsin. The Badgers are on the road this week against Illinois. The Illini love to pass and the Wisconsin secondary has been suspect over the last few years.
A 68-yard punt return by Vincent Strang put California up by two touchdowns and then the Bears hung on for the final five minutes to win, 31-24. In the final minute the Illini recovered an onsides kick and had a chance to tie it up, getting as far as the Bears' four-yard line before QB Jon Beutjer was sacked. The Illini had 26 first downs, however most of them were through the air as the rushing attack only accumulated 66 yards on 35 carries. Rushing the ball has been a problem for Illinois all year and it looks to me like this trend will continue. The Illini are home this week against Wisconsin.
You wouldn't know it by the score, but Indiana out gained Kentucky, 449-354. QB Jared Lorenzen passed for two touchdowns and ran for another. The 260-pound Kentucky signal caller repeatedly broke away from Hoosiers tacklers. The only real bright spot for Indiana was their punter, Tyson Beattie, who placed the ball on Kentucky's three-yard line twice, the two-yard line twice and once on the 13-yard line. Indiana is on the road this week at Michigan. It looks like it might be a long season for the Hoosiers.
Marion Barber III ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns as Minnesota blasted Louisiana-Lafayette, 48-14. QB Asad Abdul-Khalia had a good day as he completed 7 of 11 with one touchdown. Because of the lopsided score in the first half, the QB sat out the entire second half. The Gophers have now won 11-straight non-conference games. The stats all belonged to Minnesota here as they out gained the Cajuns, 530-204. Minnesota, 4-1, will get its first real test of the season as they go on the road to face Penn State in their Big Ten opener.
The Northwestern Wildcats evened their non-conference record to 2-2 by beating Duke on the road, 28-10. RB Jason Wright ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns as the Cats played much better than they did last week, giving up 44 points and 515 yards to Miami-Ohio. Duke's only two scoring drives were helped by Northwestern's two personal foul penalties. Both of these teams will face tough opponents next week as Northwestern travels to Ohio State and Duke hosts Florida State.
Finally, in the Big Ten last week, Iowa roasted Arizona State, 21-2. This game became a bettor's nightmare as Iowa opened at minus-10 and dropped all the way down to six with heavy action coming on Arizona State. As in their past games, the Hawks put pressure on the QB. They also got three touchdown passes from their own QB, Nathan Chandler. The Hawkeyes did have one negative thing happen during this victory. They lost yet another WR when Ed Hinkle left with a groin injury. Arizona State had only 12 first downs and 24 yards rushing. Could this team be overrated in the Pac-10? I think so. Is Iowa underrated? We will find out this week as they go on the road.
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