All of the Big Ten teams were in action this past weekend. Seven ended up in the win column while four went down in defeat. Two of the losses were big surprises, the first being Penn State getting beaten by Boston College. The Eagles wasted no time as they led 21-0 after the first quarter. Former Nittany Lion, Horace Dodd, got the show going early as he ran for 62 yards and a touchdown on his first carry. What surprised me most about this game was the rushing yards Boston College racked up against the Lions. It won't be any easier for Penn State this week as they travel to Nebraska. The Huskers will have no problem getting up for this game, as they were embarassed last year, 40-7 at Penn State. Could this year's score be reversed?
The other surprise in the Big Ten had to be Bowling Green's big win over Purdue. The Boilers were expected to be one of the top 20 teams in the country. Purdue, known for its passing attack, received some if its own medicine as QB Josh Harris completed 22 of 40 for 357 yards. As I looked at this game last week, I really didn't care to take Purdue and lay 10 points. My biggest concern was that Bowling Green had a game under their belt, while this was the first encounter of the season for Purdue. In college football, this is a big factor at the start of the season. Always keep this in mind. When a team has one game under their belt and the other team has yet to play, it can be a very dangerous situation, especially if the team that hasn't played is a favorite. This week Purdue will be on the road against a fired up Wake Forest, a ball club that finds itself 2-0 for the season. Victories over Boston College and North Carolina State have this team sky-high. As of this writing, I can't gauge the morale of the Boilermakers. However, I have a strong feeling that Purdue will bounce back here.
Yet another suprise in the Big Ten had to be Ohio State's struggle with San Diego State. The Buckeyes have now won 16 games in a row, but this victory was ugly to say the least. Ohio State managed only ten first downs and QB Krenzel completed only five passes for the Buckeyes. San Diego State didn't fare much better as they accumulated only 28 yard on the ground. They did however manage 188 yards passing. In reality San Diego State should have won this game straight out. The Buckeyes are home once again as they host NC State on Saturday. The Wolfpack could have been looking ahead to this match-up last week as they played poorly against Wake Forest. NC State didn't have any trouble moving the ball as they amassed 511 yards of total offense. However, penalties were costly as they were charged with 10 of them for 90 yards. The Wolfpack were without the services of RB McLendon, who was injured after he fell in the team lounge and injured his knee. He is listed as questionable for this week's game. With or without him, I have a feeling Ohio State's winning streak could be in jeopardy.
In other Big Ten action, Michigan continues to roll as they smoked Houston, 50-3. RB Chris Perry once again had a big day running for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines get their real test this week as they host Notre Dame. This is a big revenge game for the Wolves and I think they will get it. However, I would be cautious about laying the 10 points. The classic battle between these two great teams has always been a good underdog play. In the last 17 games between these two, the 'dog' has covered 15 times.
Illinois had a breather this week as they beat Division I-AA Illinois State, 49-22. The Illini could have been looking ahead to UCLA as the defense didn't play all that well, giving up over 500 yards. Illinois will be on the road this week at UCLA. The Bruins are favored by 10½ and probably will collect the money.
Could this Iowa team be a repeat of last year? They're certainly following the same pattern, as they crushed Buffalo, 56-7. This one was over early as the Hawks led 42-0 at the half. Iowa will be on the road this week playing in-state rival, Iowa State. The Cyclones have had the Hawk's number as of late, for they have won five years in a row. The Hawks are a 4½ point favorite and will have their hands full. My sources at Ames think this team will not be as good as last year, and definitely will miss the services of QB Wallace. Good chance we will make a call here.
Northwestern drew only 21,000 fans for a very entertaining home opener at Ryan Field in Evanston against Air Force. They lost a heart-breaker 22-21. The long-time radio voice of the 'Cats' on WGN in Chicago, Dave Bennett, likes what he sees with this young club. A good QB in Brett Bosanez and the defense should be much improved over last year. The Wildcats are back home again this week against Miami(Oh). Just may be another one to look at.
Indiana continues to struggle and I rather doubt we'll see much improvement. The Hoosiers fought hard in the first half against Washington, in fact, it was tied up at the half. Depth is a major concern at Indiana. I think this program will get better a few years down the road. They should get a win this week when they host Indiana State.
The Minnesota Gophers had no trouble with Troy State, winning big, 48-7. The Game ended pretty much as we expected. The Gophers were our top release in college football this past week. This team will get a better test this week as they travel to Ohio U. An 18½ point favorite, the 'dog' could be my only choice.
Could Michigan State be back? One thing for sure, Spartan QB Jeff Smoker certainly is. Smoker threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, setting an all-time Spartan passing record. Michigan State is home again this week against Louisiana Tech. Michigan State is a 10½ point favorite. Tough game to call, especially with the Spartans having Notre Dame on deck.
Finally in the Big Ten, one of the more exciting games to watch was Wisconsin's win over Akron, 48-31. Don't be misled by the final score for the game was much closer than the score indicates. In fact, the Zips had a chance to go ahead late in the fourth quarter, only to have their drive stalled on the one yard line. Once again the 'big man' was RB Anthony Davis, who rushed for 247 yards on 29 carries. Yes that's right. It figures out to 8.5 yards per carry. Wide receiver Lee Evans also had a big game as he had nine catches for 214 yards. The defense for the Badgers did not play that well, as they gave up over 500 yards. Most of that can be contributed to the outstanding play of QB Frye. What a game this lad had. Wisconsin will be back home against UNLV. It's an early morning game with no chance of the lights going out. The Badgers are a 20 point favorite and we'll know more about this matchup as the week goes on.
Overall the Big Ten is 15-6 SU and 10-9-1 ATS after 2 weeks of non-conference action. They will face stiff competition this upcoming Saturday with road trips to UCLA, Nebraska, Iowa State and the above mentioned trip to Winston-Salem, along with Michigan's date with the Irish in Ann Arbor.
Speaking of college football, what two teams have played against each other the most times? The answer... Minnesota and Wisconsin. They've faced off in 112 games entering the 2003 season. Right behind is Missouri-Kansas at 111.
One of the oddest playing teams in the NFL was the Green Bay Packers. This past Sunday, the Packers had the grand opening of its newly remodeled stadium. A record crowd of 70,505, the largest home crowd in franchise history, was on hand. The stadium looked great but the team didn't. A lot of experts picked this club to win their division. I didn't, and I think the Packers have more problems than they'd like to admit. Is it possible ex-Packer, WR Antonio Freeman could come back. Freeman is unemployed and anything is possible, especially with the injuries of WR Donald Driver (neck), Robert Ferguson (knee) and Karsten Baily hamstring). I would be very surprised if Freemen returns.
The real shock in Pro football this week had to be Houston's 21-20 upset over Miami at Miami. The Texans were a 14 point underdog and you can be sure their outright win took a lot of teasers down.
That's it for this week.
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