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Wolverinesnot ‘special’

Oct 7, 2003 3:59 AM

Michigan found out this past Saturday that there’s more to playing football than just offense and defense.

The Wolverines special teams completely broke down. This collapse gave Iowa all it needed to pull out a 30-27 victory. Michigan out gained the Hawkeyes, 463-295 as QB John Navarre threw for a career-high 369 yards. However, the only stat that really mattered was the one on the scoreboard.

The Iowa victory was more of a case of Michigan giving it to them than them earning it. Iowa has a bye this week and Michigan will be on the road again at Minnesota. Right now it’s hard going against the red-hot Gophers.

WISCONSIN: The Badgers once again displayed their punishing running attack in a 30-23 win at Penn State, gaining 234 yards on 51 carries. Booker Stanley, the third-string RB, rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown. Starting RB Anthony Davis injured his ankle and left the game in the first quarter. His backup, Dwayne Smith also left the game with an injury. Both are very questionable for next week.

PENN STATE: Like Michigan, the Nittany Lions have many problems on special teams. A couple of long punt returns and a key fumble by the returning team certainly put Penn State behind the eight ball. The Lions did have one bright spot as QB Michael Robinson completed 22 of 43 passes for 379 yards. However, Penn State couldn’t contain the Wisconsin running attack and that proved the difference.

OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes, coming off a bye week, visit Wisconsin. The last time the Badgers started the Big Ten 2-0, with both wins on the road, was 1950. This game will be played at night, which is very unusual. Camp Randall Stadium will be rocking as the game has already been sold out. I would certainly have to take a strong look at the underdog. However, Wisconsin suffered multiple injuries last week so you may want to wait before playing the Badgers.

MINNESOTA: After falling behind 14-0 at Northwestern, the Gophers downed the Wildcats, 42-17. Minnesota had just eight yards on its first four possessions when QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq hit WR Jared Ellerson for a 96-yard touchdown pass. After that play, the momentum changed and the Gophers dominated.

MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans beat Indiana last week, 31-3. QB Jeff Smoker, who completed 32 of 40 for 351 yards and two TDs, has increased his team records to 510 career completions on 858 attempts for 7,044 yards and 50 TDs. The Spartans are a 6-point road favorite at Illinois this week. Of all the Big Ten games, this is the most difficult for me to side with.

PURDUE: The Boilermakers are my choice for the surprise team in the Big Ten. Purdue continued to roll last week after handling Illinois, 43-10. What surprised most folks about this win was the ground attack, which compiled 324 yards on 67 carries. Purdue is nearly a 12-point home favorite this week against Penn State. It’s a pretty steep line, but the favorite is the only side I’d consider.

Here are my early selections.

Nebraska (—6) at Missouri: Nebraska has been pretty good defensively, but they have had trouble moving the ball on offense. Missouri should be well rested after a week off. This is a good spot to go with the Tigers as an underdog. MISSOURI.

Ohio State (—3½) at Wisconsin: This one is going to be an all-out war. Wisconsin will have the home field advantage, which will be huge. This is the type of team that the Badgers can beat, assuming they don’t have a lot of injuries. WISCONSIN.

Georgia (pick) at Tennessee: This is a great spot here to take Tennessee at home. Georgia has been rolling lately but the Vols will have a big-time home field advantage. This will be a revenge game, as Georgia won last year, 18-13. TENNESSEE.

For more free picks visit Doc, who has been in business for more than 30 years at www.docsports.com

Last week: 2-1

Season: 10-5