Scarlet letters for Rutgers, Oklahoma

Sep 6, 2005 5:14 AM

Since TCU’s incredible upset of Oklahoma and Auburn’s loss in the Alabama plains to Georgia Tech have been covered in other outlets, I’m focusing on Rutgers.

For some reason, the public took the Scarlet Knights and ran with them both in Vegas and offshore. Rutgers opened as a two-point underdog to Illinois and wound up a 1½ road favorite. Starting the fourth quarter, the Knights had a 17-point lead and all looked good.

Or, so we thought.

Illinois rallied for 17 unanswered points in the final quarter to tie the game 27-27 and force overtime. Rutgers gained possession first and booted a field goal, opening the door for Illinois to drive for the deciding touchdown in a 33-30 victory. Ron Zook is now 1-0 at Illinois, which was 4-18 over the past two seasons. Our first bad beat of the season. What gets me is how Rutgers could be so coveted and trusted against a brutal historical track record. The Scarlet Knights were 4-7 both SU and ATS last year and have been road favorites just once in the last 10 years!

That one time was in 2003, the miracle 10-1-1 ATS year under head coach Greg Schiano. Rutgers was a seven-point favorite at Army and won 36-21. Definitely, a once in a lifetime season.

I’ll get over the bad beat, but how about Oklahoma, Auburn and Rutgers? Those setbacks could be season killers, especially in Norman where losing to the Horned Frogs is totally unacceptable. Bob Stoops now has a scarlet letter in Big Red Country that will be hard to remove. Plus, RB Adrian Peterson is hurting.

Can a national championship go out the window the first week? In Oklahoma’s case, yes!

The underdogs had the better of it in the first week (roughly 60 percent in Saturday’s games).

Now that we’ve had a week full of highlights and game stats to study, here’s hoping for more productive results.

Thursday, Sept. 8

Okla St -14½ at FAU: Coach Howard Schnellenberger has done a splendid job building FAU, which covered its opener against Kansas. Oklahoma State had a mighty 15-10 struggle with Montana State. FAU is the host and the game is on ESPN. Do you remember Troy-Missouri, Northern Illinois-Maryland? We do. FAU.

Saturday, Sept. 10

Kansas St -9½ at Marshall: The "Mildcats" never approached the 33 point line in a 35-21 win over Florida International. Marshall moves from the MAC to C-USA. Nothing would be finer than an opening skin in Huntington. MARSHALL.

Temple +34 at Wisconsin: Owls are a Dirty Dozen regular and in big trouble. The Badgers didn’t punt once against Bowling Green until midway through the fourth quarter. They may run for 500 yards and not punt at all amay run for 500 yards and not punt at all against this patsy.

WISCONSIN.

Clemson +1 at Maryland: The host Terps rallied late to upend Navy. Clemson also came from behind to nip Texas A&M. No comparison in opponents. Edge to visitors. CLEMSON.

Notre Dame +7 at Michigan: A heavyweight matchup at Ann Arbor. Charlie Weis has brought the swagger back to South Bend as the Irish handled Pitt with surprising ease. Michigan is Michigan. Expect a war. IRISH.

Tulsa +31 at Oklahoma: Bob Stoops and the Sooners will take out every bit of anger here from the TCU loss. Tulsa will pay for scheduling Minnesota and OU back to back. OKLAHOMA.

Akron +35 at Purdue: The MAC did not fare too well last week against the elite of the Big 10 and it doesn’t look good here. Akron lost studt QB Charlie Frye, now the darling of the Cleveland Browns. The Boilers figure to pile up the points early and often in getting ready for Arizona on Sept. 17. PURDUE.

Hawaii NL at Michigan St. The Spartans lost at Hawaii last year so will not overlook the Bows in preparing for Irish. Last week, Hawaii surrendered 63 to No. 1 USC. Could be another 50 this week. MICHIGAN ST.

Rice +24 at UCLA: Bruins are a sleeping giant in the Pac 10, as Rice will find out. UCLA.

W. Forest +7½ at Nebraska: The Bill Callahan era in Lincoln, is not going well. The Huskers only beat Maine 25-7 and needed a late score to break open a close game. Wake Forest will be back to its underdog role after blowing its opener with Vandy. A much better situation for the Deacs. WAKE FOREST.

Bowling Green NL at Ball St. Omar Jacobs could throw for 600 yards and eight TDs here. The porous BG defense won’t have to worry about this MAC cupcake.

B. GREEN.

Boise State NL at Oregon St.

The Broncos were humbled at Athens, where they were never in the game. It will take longer than a week to get over that blowout loss. Beavers are usually tough in Corvallis and could surprise.

OREGON ST.

Iowa -7½ at Iowa State: Kirk Ferentz is money at Iowa, which has covered 10 of its last 13 games. Ferentz is 48-24-2 ATS at Iowa City. In contrast, ISU coach Dan McCarney is 45-72 SU in 10 years at Ames. IOWA.

Texas +1 at Ohio St: We’re saving the best matchup for last. QB Vince Young and the Longhorns came of age after that splendid 38-37 Rose Bowl triumph over Michigan. Ohio State looked great in its opener with Miami of Ohio. Columbus will be talking about this one for years to come. TEXAS.

Cincinnati +19½ at Penn St: The Nittany Lions don’t allow more than 21 in a game. Trouble is they can’t score 21. We’ll take the dog. CINCY.

N.Mexico St +24 at Colorado: The Buffaloes came through with an emotional win over bitter rival Colorado State and will carry it over against outclassed Aggies. COLORADO.

Last week: 4-6.

Season: Sadly, the same.