Purdue will be waiting for Irish

Sep 3, 2002 1:05 PM

Here’s the best to snack on in football this weekend.

West Virginia at Wisconsin —10½: West Virginia had an easy tune-up against Chattanooga, while Wisconsin dominated UNLV. Still not sold on the Badgers, however, which has looked unsettled at the quarterback position and along the offensive line. The Badgers have also been a poor favorite (4-14 ATS), and have not fared well in non-conference games, 2-10 ATS. The number is too high, even against a developing Mountaineer squad.

Purdue at Notre Dame —7: The Irish completely shut down Maryland, holding the Terps to eight first downs and only 16 total rushing yards. Nevertheless, Purdue brings to South Bend a more prolific attack and has revenge on its mind after dominating last year’s game, only to lose in the late moments. And, while Notre Dame moved the ball against Maryland, the offense has yet to score a touchdown. Take the Boilers and the 7 points.

Rice at Michigan State —23½: This spread could be covered by half time. The Spartans crushed Eastern Michigan by rolling up 369 yards on the ground and holding the opposition to only 12 first downs and 54 yards/rushing. Jeff Smoker got off to a good start, completing 12 of 24 passes for 232 yards. Look for another laugher for MSU.

New Mexico at Air Force —6: Even though the Lobos have covered three straight against Air Force, they’re facing a much improved Falcon team, which last week unleashed a 476-yard ground attack on a hapless Northwestern squad. In the process, Air Force held the Wildcats to only 41 net rushing yards. Air Force is also 4-1 ATS in conference openers. Besides, how can you not bet on a quarterback named Chance Harridge?

Stanford at Boston College —7: The Cardinal open their season with a new coach and 3,000 miles from home. BC struggled against Connecticut in its opener last week, but keep in mind the Huskies are a tough team, not your typical cupcake. Stanford also has questions at quarterback with its projected starter is suspended for this game. As we’ve seen in many games so far, the team that has a game under its belt has a decided edge. The Eagles will profit from its effort and win comfortably.

Colorado State at UCLA —7: The Rams had a great win against Colorado last week, following its season opening win over Virginia. The Bruins kick off the season with many question marks, especially at quarterback, where Cory Paus is hoping to live up to four years of unfulfilled expectations. UCLA also begins its season with departed Deshawn Foster, but there’s four-deep talent at the position. While Colorado State looked great in Denver last week, they could suffer a letdown this week. Plus UCLA has been tabbed as middle of the pack PAC 10 team, which will give them enough incentive to win this one going away.

Alabama at Oklahoma —13: This is a tough spot for the Tide, which comes off a mediocre effort against Middle Tennessee State. The latter exploited Alabama’s soft middle for 183 yards rushing. The Sooners will take advantage and run relentlessly, at least until they can smooth out inconsistencies in its quarterback position. Oklahoma rolls, and they won’t wait until the second half like they did against Tulsa.

Indiana at Utah —14: Not only did the Hoosers have to come from behind to beat William & Mary, they rushed for less than 2½ yards per carry and aired out an anemic passing attack. They’ll find the going more difficult against Utah’s staunch defense. The Utes should win this one going away.

New Mexico State at Cal —14: For a team that won one game last year, Cal looks vastly improved. Even though it was against a pitiful Baylor squad, the Golden Bears defense held the Bears to 79 yards/rushing and picked off four passes. And quarterback Kyle Boller looked comfortable, completing 18 of 26 passes for 213 yards. They won’t score 70 points this week, but they’ll get enough to cover the two TD spread.

Ball State at Missouri —17½: Ball State has been outscored by an average three touchdowns in its last three season openers. Missouri opened last week with an impressive showing against Illinois. The Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for 285 yards and holding the Illini to only 67 net yards on the ground. Expect more of the same this week.

No. Illinois at South Florida —5: No. Illinois was fortunate to pull out a win last week against Wake Forest, which controlled the game for 3½ quarters. South Florida lost in the closing seconds to No. Illinois on the road last year, but should prevail at home this time. This highly underrated "other" Florida squad bears watching this season; they may surprise against some tough SEC and Big 12 opponents.