Michigan St smokin’ in Big Ten

Sep 30, 2003 7:12 AM

The Michigan State Spartans looked like the team of old as they beat formerly undefeated Iowa, 20-10. The win gave State a 4-1 record overall and a 1-0 mark in the Big Ten.

Smoker completed 28 of 44 for 218 yards and set school records for completions (478), attempts (818) and TD passes (48). What hurt Iowa the most were three fumbles and one key interception. Hawkeyes RB Fred Russell did gain 122 yards on 23 carries. Michigan State is a 14½-point home favorite against Indiana. This looks like a very dangerous number.

MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers won their first Big Ten game, downing Penn State on the road, 20-14. Are these 5-0 Gophers for real? They do look like they could be one of the favorites to win the conference title, but we’re not ready to declare just yet. The Gophers led 14-0 and certainly played hard. They were also helped by a key interception by SS Justin Fraley that secured the win. The Gophers are a 10-point chalk at Northwestern. Take a look at the Cats here.

PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions came storming back as QB Michael Robinson, who replaced injured QB Zack Mills, engineered two scoring drives in the second quarter. Late in the first half, Penn State drove to the Minnesota 11-yard line, where a Robinson pass was tipped and intercepted. The Lions have now dropped three straight to Minnesota, including two to Minnesota coach Glen Mason at Happy Valley. Paterno’s 338 wins are still the most in major college football with Bobby Bowden of Florida State hot on his heels.

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines looked bad but played well enough to defeat Indiana, 31-17. Michigan committed four turnovers, but won its 22nd consecutive Big Ten opener. The Wolves have now beaten Indiana 12 consecutive times and 27 of the past 28 meetings. DL Larry Stevens and DB Ernest Shazor missed the Indiana game with injuries but are expected to play next week at Iowa. Iowa beat Michigan last year, 34-9. Michigan has been installed as a 2½-point favorite.

PURDUE: The Boilermakers were our top choice on the phone selection this past weekend and they came home in style, defeating Notre Dame, 23-10. Notre Dame had beaten Purdue three straight years despite being outgained by an average of 149 yards. The group of seniors for the Boilers wanted this game badly. The Irish changed their lineup by starting true freshman Brady Quinn, who played well against the veteran Purdue defense. The problem for the Irish all year has been the lack of a ground attack. It’s going to be a long year for Notre Dame. John Standeford caught six key passes and is now Purdue’s all-time leading wide receiver with 209 catches. The Boilers should be good as a 14-point home favorite against Illinois.

OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes extended their win streak to 19 after a 20-0 defeat of Northwestern. Once again the defense shined and the offense struggled. Ohio State only had 311 yards while the Wildcats could only muster 185. Northwestern did miss two field goal attempts and it had a touchdown called back in the second quarter on a very questionable holding call. The Buckeyes are now 5-0 overall, but all five wins came at home. They are off this week.

WISCONSIN: The Badgers got their running game in gear as Dwayne Smith ran for 193 yards and three TDs in a 38-20 win over Illinois. Over the years under Coach Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin wins a high percentage of games when they control the ball on the ground, especially when they run 50+ times. Against Illinois, the Badgers attempted 63 runs. The Illini lost its third-straight game and 17th straight Big Ten opener. Wisconsin QB Jim Sorgi, playing with sore ribs, completed 7 of 12 passes for 131 yards and ran for a score. Wisconsin is a two-point favorite this week at Penn State. The "over/under" is the most interesting aspect of the game.

Here’s this week’s three plays.

Akron (+21) vs Miami, Ohio: Akron has shown it can light up the scoreboard, and this game should be no exception. Both teams have been putting lots of points on the board and neither has an intimidating defense. Line is too much. AKRON.

La Tech (+7) over Boise St: The Bulldogs, coming off a week rest, showed their stuff in a Sept. 13 win over Michigan State. Boise State was blowing teams out last year but lost heavily to graduation on offense. LA TECH.

Purdue (—14) over Illinois: The Boilers starting to roll after a Week 1 shocker against Bowling Green. They can score a lot of points and they have a veteran defense. Plus, there will be an element of revenge, as Illinois won last year 38-31. Two touchdowns shouldn’t be a problem. PURDUE.

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Last week: 3-0

Season record: 8-4