Reality indicates Nebraska is vastly overrated

Sep 17, 2002 9:45 AM

   The college games this past weekend help reinforce the simple truth that perception is not reality. The perception that Nebraska, for instance, is still a “powerhouse” has been completely obliterated. Another perception, that the Big 10 is among the top conferences, is also fading from reality.

   We’ll make use of these “misperceptions” this week to cash a few tickets.

   Florida at Tennessee (-4 pts): There are still web-footed believers who think Florida is a Top 10 team. And they will no doubt take the points or, worse yet, bet the Gators on the money line. But Florida, like Nebraska, has slipped from the upper echelon of college teams. That will be painfully apparent when Tennessee shellacs them on national TV.

   Arizona at Wisconsin (-6½ pts): We saw the Big 10 stumble last week, except for Ohio State, which is the cream of the Big 10 crop. Wisconsin has looked unimpressive against weak competition, and Arizona played well against a tough Utah squad. The Wildcats will get the cover, if not the outright upset.

   Utah at Michigan (-11 pts): Here’s another Big 10 team that’s highly overrated. We pointed out last week that the Wolverines should have lost to Washington, and it showed in their performance against Notre Dame. Yet, odds-makers made Michigan a double-digit favorite against a solid team that’s 8-1 ATS as a dog the last three years. Make that 9-1 after Saturday.

   Colorado at UCLA (NL): There was no line posted at press time because of the injury to the Colorado quarterback. It doesn’t matter. UCLA is rounding into form with its effective running back by committee and resurgence of QB Cory Paus. Note that Pac 10 teams were 9-1 SU and ATS last week versus non-conference foes. If the line comes in with the Bruins favored by single digits, lay the wood.

   Wyoming at Washington (-31 pts): We’ll stick with the Pac 10 in this so-called match-up. Wyoming, which is among the worst teams in division 1A, mounted a feeble effort against Boise State last week, and the Cowboys figure will be totally out-manned against the Huskies. The number could be covered by halftime.

   Ohio State (-14½ pts) at Cincinnati: As noted, the Buckeyes are the Big 10’s best team. Their running back, Maurice Clarett, racked up 230 yards last week against a credible Washington State defense. Only Archie Griffin had a better day as a freshman. He’ll find little resistance from Cincinnati, which could be out of it by halftime.

   UNLV at Toledo (-7 pts): The Rockets launched a balanced attack against Minnesota, as William Bratton rushed for 111 yards and three TDs, while Brian Jones completed 23 of 30 passes for 195 yards. They should be able to rebound against a hapless Rebel team that is slowly sinking into oblivion.

(Last week’s results, 4-3)