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Wisconsin defeat doesn’t stay in Vegas

Sep 16, 2003 10:19 AM

The headlines in the Madison newspaper read "Loss Vegas."

I couldn’t have said it any better as the Badgers had the "stuffing" beat out of them, 23-5, by UNLV. Wisconsin (2-1) lost Heisman hopeful RB Anthony Davis in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. This injury, combined with the shaky start of QB Jim Sorgi, set the tone for the day and the Badgers never recovered.

Sorgi was sacked eight times and overthrew eight receivers. He also committed two of the Badgers’ five fumbles. Dwayne Smith, who replaced Davis, also fumbled twice. The Badgers haven’t lost at home with a ranking this high since 1959. Wisconsin is home this week against North Carolina. As of this writing no line has been posted, but I suspect the Badgers will be around a 14-point favorite. It’s a tough game to pick at this point because of injuries, but if history is any indication, Barry Alvarez will have his team ready.

Northwestern found out the MAC is for real and has the talent to prove it. The Wildcats were beaten soundly by Miami-Ohio, 44-14, the fifth-straight time the RedHawks have beaten Northwestern. Miami QB Ben Roethlisberger had a big day, completing 29 of 41 passes for 369 yards. Northwestern QB Brett Basanez was knocked out of the game twice, although he returned each time. The Wildcats visit Duke this week. There is no early line with Basanez listed as "uncertain."

Ohio State has the luck. Quarterback Craig Krenzel hit WR Michael Jenkins on a seven-yard scoring pass in the third OT. Then the No. 3 Buckeyes made a goal-line stand to secure the win over North Carolina State, 44-38. For the second week in a row, the Buckeyes lucked out and they now have the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games. Krenzel did have a good day as he completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards. The Buckeyes are a 15-point home favorite over Bowling Green. My crystal ball tells me this one may be close.

Michigan State, following two wins, lost at home late to Louisiana Tech. The Spartans were up by 13 points with a little over a minute left, only to see La Tech score two touchdowns to eke out a 20-19 victory. The Spartans out gained the Bulldogs, 497-361, in total offense but lost QB Jeff Smoker (toe injury) in the second quarter. Michigan State visits Notre Dame. No early line available due to the Smoker situation. Look to the Irish if the number is 12 or less.

The bettors did well with Purdue, which upended Wake Forest, 16-10. The Boilers were finally able to win a close game. Purdue’s last six losses, dating back to last season, were by a total of 26 points, including the 27-26 loss to the Falcons. The Boilermakers did fumble five times but they were able to recover four of them. Top WR Taylor Stubblefield had seven catches in the first half before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The Boilers return home to play Arizona in one of our top plays this week.

Iowa continues to roll, though I’m not convinced. Last week Iowa State outgained the Hawkeyes 390-243. Maurice Brown, Iowa’s best WR, caught a 60-yard pass in the first quarter but he didn’t return to the game because of an injury. The Hawkeyes are a nine-point home favorite this week against Arizona State.

Michigan is on a mission and it certainly showed on Saturday as it buried Notre Dame, 38-0. This Wolverines win was the biggest victory in the previous 30 meetings between these two powerhouses. Michigan was outstanding on both sides of the ball. The Irish were held to seven first downs and 140 in total yardage. This is another of our top plays.

Minnesota is 3-0 both SU and ATS. Marion Barber III had a big day last week, rushing for 104 yards and four TDs. The Gophers are a 32-point home favorite against lowly Louisiana-Lafayette. It could be a tad too many as the Gophers have Penn State on deck.

Indiana posted its first win of the season even if it was against Indiana State, 33-3. Not too much to look at in this game. What scares me when I look at Indiana is the opponent completed 16 of 22 passes for 179 yards. It looks like the Hoosiers are in for a long season. This week, the Hoosiers are a 10-point home underdog to Kentucky. Too tough to call.

One of the most boring games in the Big Ten was UCLA-Illinois. The Bruins finally pulled away with a victory, 6-3. Three field goals made up the total scoring. The total rushing yardage for Illinois was 26 carries for 67 yards. The Illini are a 4½ point home favorite over California. I will spend very little time on this one. A very difficult selection.

One of the most exciting Big Ten contests was in Lincoln, where Nebraska stopped Penn State. The Huskers used a big ground game in the 18-10 win, piling up 337 yards rushing. Of 78 total plays, only six were passes. The Nittany Lions hung in until the very end. Nebraska should have won by more.

Here are three early selections for this week.

Arizona St (+9) at Iowa: I feel that the odds makers made a mistake here. This will be a big game for ASU. The Sun Devils can throw the ball, while Iowa has key personnel missing in its secondary. The Hawkeyes are off a big game at Iowa State and have Michigan up next. Don’t think this steep of a line is warranted. This is supposedly a great Sun Devils team with lots of speed and can pass the ball. That plays right into the weakness of Iowa. ARIZ ST.

Michigan (-7) at Oregon: The Wolverines are going places this year. Surprisingly, they have been better on the road than in Ann Arbor over the years. Oregon is 3-0, but has faced weak opponents. Michigan is strong from top to bottom, has a balanced offense and a defense that is really coming around. Oregon is going to be shut down. MICHIGAN.

Arizona (+25) at Purdue: Lay the big number. Purdue had a tough loss in the opener against Bowling Green but came back last week against Wake Forest. The Wildcats are probably the first team in college football that has totally collapsed. The fans are already calling for the coaches’ head. Arizona has had three games at home, which included losses of 59-13 loss to LSU and 48-10 to Oregon. Now the Cats are back on the road in what should be a complete rout. PURDUE.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 4-2