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Doc's Big Ten News and Notes by Max
Upsets were the norm during the last week of action in the Big Ten Conference. Two hefty favorites went onto the road and came away with mind-boggling losses. What is even more puzzling was some of the coaching decisions made in those games. We also witnessed the game of the year in the Conference between the Michigan schools. The following will recap the previous weeks action and look ahead to a very important upcoming week.
Our top play went into the win column as Northwestern came in as a nine-point underdog and won the game straight up. The Cats struck early in this game on a 14-yard touchdown run by Terrell Jordan. After this score, Purdue seemingly took control of the game and had numerous chances to get up by two scores. But they never could climb over this hurdle and after Kyle Orton threw his fifth interception of the season, he was pulled from the game and replaced with back-up Brandon Kirsch. What was Coach Joe Tiller thinking? This is a fireable offense and he has definitely lost control of this team.
Purdue was still leading until late in the fourth quarter when Wildcat running back Noah Herron found the corner of the end zone for a three-yard touchdown run. Northwestern missed the extra point but still clung to a 13-10 lead. The Boilers drove to midfield as the did in their previous two losses but a key drop by Taylor Stubblefield forced them to throw a desperation Hail Mary as time expired. The pass fell incomplete and Purdue suffered their third straight loss. Benching Kyle Orton with a lead was a true slap in the face to a great quarterback. I have to wonder how he will respond next week in Iowa City. The Hawks come in as a slight and have been extremely tough to beat. Northwestern will travel to Happy Valley and the early line has them as a slight underdog. The difference in this game will come down to the effectiveness of the Penn State offense.
The feature game took place Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines came in as an 11-point favorite and we felt confident in playing the dog here. Deandra Cobb had an outstanding game running the football for the Spartans and had touchdowns of 64 and 72 yards. After his second touchdown midway through the fourth quarter the Spartans had a 27-10 lead and appeared able to just cruise the rest of the way.
But the Michigan offense finally got going as Chad Henne drove them down for a chip shot field goal to cut the lead to two touchdowns with about five minutes to play. Coach Lloyd Carr then took a huge gamble going for an onsides kick, which the Wolverines recovered. After that my choice for player of the year Braylon Edwards took the game over with two amazing touchdown catches to tie up the game. A terrible pass interference call as time expired gave the Spartans one last chance to win the game in regulation but Kicker Dave Rayner's 51-yard field goal fell short. What that official was thinking throwing that flag on a dump-off pass is beyond my intelligence.
But the kick thankfully fell short and it was off to OT. State had numerous chances to win the game during the first two extra periods, but Michigan stepped-up and made plays on both sides of the ball. The score was even through the first two frames and went into triple overtime. Michigan faced a third and long when the playmaker once again stepped up and made an outstanding play. Braylon caught the ball on a crossing pattern and took it the distance for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was good and Michigan took a 45-37 lead. Then a bad call went against the Spartans and it really took them out of this drive. A desperation pass was knocked away and Michigan secured a hard fought victory to remain undefeated in conference play.
The Wolverines have a bye coming up then will get Northwestern at home. The Michigan football schedule is looking very promising for them and hopefully they can run the table. State will need to quickly regroup as they face the Buckeyes at home next week. The Spartans come in as a one-point favorite and a similar performance like this will blow the Buckeyes out of the building.
Minnesota has yet to regroup after losing back-to-back road games and dropped another one this past weekend in Bloomington. This puts a serious dagger into our totals prediction. Both of the Gophers running backs were held under 100 yards and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 110 yards in the victory. The Hoosiers racked up 400 yards of offense while the Gophers thought they could just show up and win this game. They were likely looking ahead to next week's showdown in Madison. Indiana deserved to win the game and quarterback Matt LoVecchio played a flawless game throwing for two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Gophers will have the featured game next Saturday in Madison. The early line has them as a seven-point underdog, but I would expect a much better effort in this game. They have the weapons available to threaten the Wisconsin defense. Indiana will travel to Champaign with Illinois still looking for its first conference win. The Illini will be a conference favorite for the first time this season, making this a must win for them.
The final conference game went as expected with Iowa cruising past Illinois. Thankfully a garbage touchdown by the Illini cut the deficit to ten points and thus a cover. This was a rare occurrence where it paid off if you bet the game late. The line opened at ten points, but by kickoff it had risen to 12. The bookies made out on this game as all the money was put on the Hawkeyes. Iowa is playing really well of late and expect them to put up a fight against Purdue. With Kyle Orton's status uncertain, the line makers have kept this game off the board. I think the home team would be the only play in this game.
It was another outstanding week for us as we went 5-1-1 on Saturday. Hopefully you were all able to take advantage of our special offer last week and cashed in on the winners along with us. Next week's schedule looks promising and we will be on one game big. Be sure to jump on board for another profitable weekend.
Free Pick- Take Eastern Michigan (-1) over Central Michigan.
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