Wolverines ran on empty at Oregon

Sep 23, 2003 4:58 AM

For years, the Michigan Wolverines have lived and died with a powerful running game. This past Saturday the Wolves surrendered the rush, managing just 19 carries for minus 3 yards.

MICHIGAN: Despite having the ball only 56 seconds in the first quarter, the maze and blue held a 6-0 lead. The Wolves’ QB John Navarre didn’t have a bad day, completing 28 of 55 passes for 306 yards. That wasn’t enough, however, as Michigan had some real mental breakdowns.

The game was played in front 59,023, the largest crowd ever at Autzen Stadium. The Wolves have now lost four straight road openers. Michigan is a 34-point home favorite this week against Indiana. The number looks good.

PURDUE: Coach Joe Tiller was tired of seeing the Boilermakers struggle in the gold uniforms so they switched to black last Saturday and turned Arizona to black in handing the Wildcats a 59-7 defeat. QB Kyle Orton threw for three touchdowns as the offense amassed 550 yards, most in years. One of the big keys was the return of WR John Standeford, who caught four passes for 111 yards. The Boilers are a 10-point home favorite this week against Notre Dame. Purdue is on a roll.

OHIO ST.: It happened in Columbus again as Will Allen intercepted a Josh Harris pass on the final play in holding off Bowling Green, 24-17. It was 10th time in the last 15 games that the defending national champs won by less than a touchdown. QB Scott McMullen subbed for regular starter Craig Krenzel (right elbow). The Buckeyes open conference play against Northwestern.

PENN ST.: It didn’t look good for the Nittany Lions after falling behind Kent State in the first quarter, 10-0. Freshman RB Austin Scott ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns in his first start for Joe Pa. Scott’s initial tally marked the first time Penn State had scored in the opening quarter. Kent State was hindered after losing starting QB Joshua Cribbs (ankle) on the second play from scrimmage. The Nittany Lions held a solid 400-184 edge in total yards. The Lions will host red-hot Minnesota this week in their first meeting since 2000. The Gophers won that game, 25-16. Penn State is a rare 3-point home underdog, but I’m leaning toward Minnesota.

MICHIGAN ST.: It’s hard to judge how good the Spartans are. They may be better than most people think. Notre Dame fell below .500 for the first time since the 2001 season after falling in East Lansing. The big problem for the Irish is the offense, which has scored only three touchdowns all season. Michigan State will be at home this week against unbeaten Iowa, which posted a 44-16 victory over the Spartans last year in Iowa City. Revenge will certainly for State, an early seven-point underdog.

WISCONSIN: As All-American RB Anthony Davis sat out with an injury, redshirt freshman Booker Stanley ran for three touchdowns and 119 yards in a 38-27 win over North Carolina, the nation’s worst defense. The Badgers lost another RB in Dwayne Smith (pulled groin) after bouncing back from the embarrassing home loss to UNLV. Stanley had run the ball just nine times for 36 yards in previous action. The Badgers are on the road this week against pass-happy Illinois.

ILLINOIS: A 68-yard punt return by Vincent Strang put California up by two touchdowns and the Bears hung on for the final five minutes to win, 31-24. In the final minute the Illini recovered an onsides kick and had a chance to tie it up, getting as far as the Cal 4 before QB Jon Beutjer was sacked. The Illini had 26 first downs, but most came through the air. The rushing attack, a problem area thus far, managed just 66 yards on 35 carries. Looks to me like this trend will continue. The Illini host Wisconsin this week.

INDIANA: You wouldn’t know it by the score, but Indiana out gained Kentucky, 449-354. Jared Lorenzen, the 260-pound Kentucky QB, passed for two touchdowns and ran for another. The lone Indiana bright spot was punter Tyson Beattie, who placed the ball on Kentucky’s 3 twice, the 2 twice and once on the 13. Indiana visits Michigan as the long season continues.

MINNESOTA: Marion Barber III ran for 120 yards and two TDs in a 48-14 win over Louisiana Lafayette, 48-14. QB Asad Abdul-Khalia completed 7 of 11 with one touchdown, playing only the first half. The Gophers, which out gained the Cajuns 530-204, have now won 11-straight non-conference games.

NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats moved to 2-2 overall after beating Duke on the road, 28-10. RB Jason Wright ran for 149 yards and two scores as the Cats played much better than the previous week against Miami of Ohio where they surrendered 44 points and 515 yards. Duke’s only two scoring drives were helped by two personal foul penalties.

IOWA: The Hawkeyes roasted Arizona State in a bettor’s nightmare, 21-2. The game opened with Iowa as a 10-point favorite and dropped down to six with heavy action coming on Arizona State. As in their past games, the Hawks put pressure on the QB. They also got three touchdown passes from their QB Nathan Chandler. The Hawkeyes did lose another WR Ed Hinkle (groin). ASU had only 12 first downs and 24 yards rushing.

Here’s our three best for this week.

Iowa (—7) at Mich St.: No question, at 4-0, Iowa team is rolling. The Hawkeyes to have some injury concerns, especially at WR. Michigan State QB Jeff Smoker had a good game last week and will continue to play well. It’s a big revenge game for the Spartans, who can win straight out. MICH ST.

ND (+10) at Purdue: The Boilermakers have improved since an opening loss to Bowling Green. Notre Dame having all sorts of problems on offense and the defense will have trouble stopping Purdue. Another revenge game as the Irish won 24-7 last year in South Bend. PURDUE.

Toledo (+3½) at Syracuse: I am going against a Toledo club here that has had two big emotional victories over Marshall and Pittsburgh. Now they head into the dome, a very tough place to play. We see a big letdown and like the small line. SYRACUSE.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 5-4