Dogs could be barkin’in Big 10 match-ups

Oct 14, 2003 7:19 AM

This past weekend’s action in the Big 10 had enough topsy-turvy developments to turn the season upside down.

Most notable was Michigan’s come-from-behind victory over Minnesota, and Purdue’s upset over previously unbeaten Ohio State.

Michigan’s 31-point fourth quarter comeback was the largest in school history. The victory was the 15th in a row for the Wolverines over the Gophers in their 100th meeting. The Little Brown Jug will go back to Michigan for another year.

Nevertheless, Minnesota proved how good its running game is as they racked up 424 yards on the ground with Marion Barber III leading the way with 197 yards on 21 carries.

I think Minnesota is the real deal, but I wonder how this fourth quarter collapse will affect them as they face an improving Michigan State team at home this week. It could be a good spot for Michigan State, which is getting 7 points from the Gophers.

The outcome of this game is crucial for both teams and will likely decide the direction they take for the remainder of the season.

Michigan hosts what appears to be a very weak Illinois team. The Wolverines, installed as a 26-point favorite, may overlook this one as they face a strong Purdue team the following week.

As noted above, the Michigan State Spartans continued to roll as they pounded the Illini, 49-14. Is this team for real? I would have to say that the jury is still deliberating as Michigan State’s last two wins came over teams that were a combined 2-12.

The real test lies ahead as they will face the toughest part of their schedule with five-straight games against the best in the Big Ten. They will start that trek at Minnesota on Saturday. The question for this game is, can Minnesota control Spartan quarterback Jeff Smoker, who has been on fire of late? Seven points is a lot to give, if you like Minnesota chances.

The game between defending national champion Ohio State and Wisconsin lived up to its top billing. It was a rain-soaked game that was determined by one big play. That play was a 79-yard touchdown reception from Wisconsin backup quarterback Matt Schabert to league-leading wide receiver Lee Evens with just 5:30 remaining in the game.

Next week the Buckeyes get another stiff test as they host Iowa, in what should be a huge game in the Big Ten. Ohio State has been installed as a 6-point favorite, but given the fact that Ohio State has had a poor record in covering spreads, it might be prudent to look first to the Boilermakers.

In college action outside of the Big 10, here are this week’s best plays.

Take Miami-Ohio —16.5 over Ball State: The Red Hawks have no trouble putting points on the board, as they have topped 40 points in each of their last five games, all wins. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to give the Mid American Conference credibility as he is showing that he can put up numbers with the best of big-time schools. This should be another blow out. Lay the points with Miami-Ohio.

Take Colorado State —5½ over Air Force: After a slow start, the Rams appear to be coming around. They enjoyed very impressive wins in the last two weeks against Fresno State and BYU. The Colorado State offense will be too much for the Falcons and I think the Rams could win by at least a touchdown. Take Colorado State to win handily.

Take South Carolina +4½ over LSU: I like the dog (South Carolina) at home here. Except for a blow-out loss to Georgia in its third game, South Carolina has played great football all season and they will keep this one close. Watch for running back Daccus Turman to have a big game. Take the points with South Carolina and go to the window.

Last week: 2-1

Season: 12-6