No butts about it: Reality bites Nebraska, Penn State

Oct 1, 2002 8:31 AM

   Sometimes it takes awhile for perception to catch up with reality. We saw evidence of this last week as Iowa State dominated long-time nemesis Nebraska and finally put the stamp of mediocrity on the storied Cornhusker program.

   Penn State discovered a reality of its own versus Iowa-not everything is smiley faces in Happy Valley. But this week bettors should continue laughing, all the way to the bank of Wisconsin.

   Penn State at Wisconsin -2½: Penn State came back to earth with a thud last week as Iowa erased all the good karma that the Nittany Lions conjured up in their earlier, lopsided wins. Now they have to take their show on the road to Wisconsin, where they won’t find many friendly mystics. While the Badgers haven’t looked spectacular, keep in mind that they’ve beaten Iowa for five straight seasons, and last week Iowa dominated Penn State before relaxing in the fourth quarter. They should be able to keep Penn State at bay and keep their perfect record intact.

   Purdue at Iowa -8½: Speaking of the Hawkeyes, they looked fabulous on the road at Penn State, as Brad Banks threw four touchdown passes and Fred Russell rushed for 142 yards. Meanwhile, Purdue had to come from behind to beat Minnesota, and the 28-15 score didn’t indicate how close the game actually was. This one shouldn’t be close as Iowa continues its march through the Big 10.

   Hawaii at Boise St. -2½: The Rainbow Warriors looked sloppy in their win over SMU (they had six turnovers and a field goal blocked), and had trouble defending the run (Kris Briggs rushed for 132 yards on 12 carries). Boise State, even with backup quarterback B.J. Rhode at the helm-he completed 17 of 28 passes for 376 yards and five touchdowns-is virtually impossible to beat at home. Laying less than a field goal is a small price to pay to cash.

   Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M -6: The Red Raiders have no running game, although its backers say all they need is the prolific Kris Kingsbury tossing TD passes. The knock on Texas A&M is it has little offense to go along with its stifling defense, but the Aggies shook things up a bit last week, changing offensive coordinators, with the result being a dizzying 31 points scored against Louisiana Tech. Without a running game, Kingsbury will be a sitting duck for the A&M defense, which should cover the spread on its own.

   California at Washington -13: Cal played well in a losing effort against Washington State, last week, and they should be very competitive against the Huskies. Quarterback Kyle Boller had a breakout day, completing 30 of 48 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns, and he should be able to score against Washington, enough to at least stay within the number.

   Oklahoma -13 at Missouri: The Sooners didn’t look sharp in their win against South Florida. Of course, they haven’t looked impressive all season. Their problem is they can’t run the ball; they had only 45 yards on the ground last week. Plus, they have their showdown with Texas in the Red River battle next week and could be distracted. That could be a disaster against a Missouri squad that knows how to score. Perhaps enough points to get the upset win.

   USC -3 at Washington State: The Trojans used a smothering defense to shut down an overrated Oregon State attack (Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson was only 8-of-30 for 80 yards and was sacked five times). The task won’t be so easy against the Cougars’ Jason Gesser, who was nothing short of brilliant against Cal last week (he threw for 431 yards and four touchdowns). Even though ’SC has won four straight in Pullman, this is a good spot for the Men of Troy to get tripped up.

   (Last week’s selections were 4-3)