Michigan team to beat
in Big Ten race

Nov 4, 2003 4:52 AM

Michigan State received a heavy dose of Chris Perry this past Saturday and Michigan made a strong statement in the Big Ten with a 27-20 win over their in-state rival.

MICHIGAN: Perry carried the ball a school-record 51 times for 219 yards. "QB" John Navarre also had an impressive day, completed 17 of 31 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Perry’s record-setting day shattered the previous school mark of 42 rushing attempts. The Wolverines, entering a bye week, now sits alone atop the conference standings. Next up is Northwestern in two weeks, but the crucial game will be Nov. 22 at home against Ohio State. A win here will likely send the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.

OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes kept fans on the edge of their seats once again as they defeated Penn State, 21-20, with some late-game heroics by "WR" Michael Jenkins. The 6-5 receiver caught a five-yard touchdown pass from backup "QB" Scott McMullen with 1:35 left that sealed the victory and kept the Buckeyes in the running for the Big Ten title. No line has been posted for the contest this week against Michigan State (4-1 in Big Ten) due to the questionable status of Ohio State "QB" Craig Krenzel.

PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions had a chance to upset Ohio State, but a 60-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game by kicker David Kimball fell just short. The loss kept Penn State winless in the Big Ten and increased the current losing streak to five, longest since Joe Paterno arrived as an assistant coach in 1950. "QB" Zack Mills returned from a knee injury that has kept him out since September, and threw for 253 yards on 27 of 42 attempts. Penn State travels to Northwestern on Saturday. The odds makers have installed the Lions as a four-point favorite. I may have to lean towards the Cats, out to revenge the 49-0 lashing last year at Penn State.

PURDUE: The Boilermakers kept their title hopes alive with a 34-14 win over the Wildcats last Saturday. After a blowout loss to Michigan the week before, this game against Northwestern was just what the doctor ordered. WR John Standeford became the most prolific receiver in Big Ten history with his four catch, 88-yard performance. His 31-yard catch in the fourth quarter broke the record previously held by Illinois’ David Williams. Standeford now has 3,418 yards during his career. "QB" Kyle Orton completed 14 of 24 passes for 212 yards. The Boilers are a three-point home favorite against Iowa. This line is a bit short so I will go with the favorite.

IOWA: The Hawkeyes had an easy week, defeating Illinois 41-10. Iowa dominated all three aspects of the game: offense, defense and special teams. "QB" Nathan Chandler led the way, throwing for 243 yards and one touchdown on 14 of 23 passing. "RB" Fred Russell, who was pulled from the game in the third quarter, gained 94 yards on 23 attempts and two scored twice. Russell’s performance lifted him over 1,000 yards for the year. Illinois will face Indiana on Saturday in what looks to be a battle for the league basement. No line was posted early in the week with the Illini running out of healthy "QB"s.

MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers also enjoyed an easy week, disposing of Indiana 55-7. The "RB" duo of Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III combined for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota actually got rushing touchdowns from five different runners and the backfield combined for 435 yards on the ground, fourth best in school history. "QB" Asad Abdul-Khaliq, the Big Ten leader in passing efficiency, completed 9 of 13 passes for only 66 yards and one touchdown. The Gophers will be home on Saturday against Wisconsin, which gets injured "QB" Jim Sorgi back.

As I look down the board, I have come up with some early selections:

Wisconsin (+7) at Minnesota: This will be a battle for the Axe, and I would have to go with the Gophers at home. The Badgers never play well at the Metrodome and may be rusty after the week off. Minnesota’s rushing game will be tough to stop and I expect another big day from the duo of Maroney and Barber. MINNESOTA.

Vanderbilt (+25) at Florida: Although the Commodores have only won one game this season, they have shown a lot of heart and have stayed in games with some very good teams. This is a young Vandy squad that won’t throw in the towel. Florida is coming off a very emotional win over Georgia and may be due for a letdown. VANDERBILT.

Iowa (+3) at Purdue: I was a bit surprised that this line wasn’t bigger. The Boilers bounced back well after a loss to Michigan two weeks ago and handled Northwestern last Saturday. I feel they will continue to roll here against the overrated Hawkeyes. PURDUE.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 17-10

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