by Doc - 11/16/2005
The word "if" is probably the most common word used by handicappers. If that had happened or if it was not for that fumble, such and such would have won. That was certainly the case with our, "Big Ten Game of the Year," as plenty of ifs caused this game to go into the books as a loss. The biggest probably came in the first half with Wisconsin up 7-0 with a third-and-one on the Iowa 3-yard line. Before the ball was snapped, the left end for the Badgers moved creating a 5-yard penalty. The next play could have been a touchdown but Owen Daniels could not hold onto the John Stocco pass. Wisconsin settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead and that four point swing was a major turning point for the confidence of Iowa.
Nonetheless, Wisconsin was still up seven points at halftime and had the ball to start the second half. On the third play from scrimmage QB Stocco went long and had WR Brandon Williams wide open down the field. Williams will probably be first team all-conference but could not hold onto this pass and thus the Badgers had to punt and all the momentum swung the way of the Hawkeyes.
Probably the biggest, "if" of the weekend was the fact that we released five Big Ten plays last weekend and this was the only game that we lost. If we would have used any other Big Ten game we would have won; however, our choice was Wisconsin and that is what we will have to live with.
This Saturday in college football is the week of big rivalry games. All the nicknames come out such as the Apple Cup (Washington), The Civil War (Oregon), The Iron Bowl (Alabama), and of course Michigan-Ohio State. This is the game I will focus on as some of the best memories in college football have developed from this rivalry.
In most cases this game is hard to handicap. Nobody ever knew what Bo Schembechler or Woody Hayes had up their sleeve. This game was always for the Big Ten Title between these two coaches and the winner would head off to Pasadena. In recent years, the conference has been more competitive of late and therefore some of the history has been lifted. This year's game should be a real dandy and both teams still have a chance of winning the Big Ten. If the Bucks emerge victorious they would guarantee at least a share of the title but would lose the tiebreaker to Penn State for a BCS bid.
I cannot imagine anyone having a strong opinion on this game, as I really think it could go either way. That being said it should be a real dandy to watch. The Buckeyes won this game last year by a score of 37-21 and I look for much less scoring in this contest and if I had to make a selection I would side with the dog.
As I look at the Big Ten schedule this week, I feel one game completely spells trap, that being Iowa -5 over Minnesota. Over the past year Iowa has been golden at Kinnick Stadium and has only failed to cover once this season. I believe that this could be a tough game for the homer, as the Gophers are back on track after suffering bad losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State. In both of these games, Minny outgained their opponents and since then they have routed two Big Ten teams. This Minnesota offensive line might be the best unit in the country and should be able to run on Iowa. I expect this game to go right down to the wire and getting over a field goal sets up nicely for the team up North.
Two teams in football that have a good chance to go undefeated this season are USC and Indianapolis. Both will have their hands full this weekend, as the Trojans welcome in a pesky Fresno State team and the Colts travel to Cincinnati. SC comes in as a 24-point favorite and I believe that their streak will continue; however, I question giving that many points to a Pat Hill team. Hill continues to challenge himself in non-conference play with a brutal schedule and traveling to Los Angeles does not get much tougher.
As for Indy, this team is polished. However, take a look at their last six opponents (Houston twice, Tennessee, Cleveland, 49ers, New England). These are bad teams expect for New England and I expect the Bengals to go all out this week. This team gets it done on both sides of the ball and do not be surprised about an upset.
Stepping away from football, the college basketball season is already underway and Duke is number one in both of the polls. I cannot argue with that since the Devils return two All-Americans in J.J. Redick and Sheldon Williams. Another surprise is that the defending champions, UNC Tarheels are not even ranked this season. How is that possible? The Tarheels lost their seven top scorers from last season and Coach Williams has his hands full this time around.
For the 32nd year, Doc's will be handicapping College Basketball. We have a very attractive offer, as our early bird package is only $895. This package gives you every selection that we make through the Final Four in Indianapolis. Those who sign-up for this package will receive a complimentary gift, a 500-piece poker set which includes two decks of cards, big blind, little blind, and dealer buttons. It comes in a durable case and this is a great way to get your poker game going. You have until Dec. 1, to sign-up for this special promotion.
This is the week that our top game streak will come to an end and I have my sights set on a blowout winner. This game will surprise you and I am confident in victory.
That is it for this week,
P.S. I am very bitter about how the Monday night game ended.