NCAA's Big Ten had moments despite Michigan

Sep 4, 2012 3:05 AM

Week 1 of college football is in the books and Doc’s Sports Services is off to a strong start in our 41st season of professional handicapping. 

Each week, we will put our skills to the test with three of our strongest selections for GamingToday. We have always prided ourselves for a thorough understanding of the Big Ten, so most times we will offer two picks from that conference.

Over the past 40 years, the Big Ten has been our “home” conference. Staying true to the old adage that you should bet on what you know best, no one in the sports gaming industry has a better insight into Big Ten football than we do.

The conference got off to a strong start with only Michigan and Penn State ending-up on the losing end, but a few of the contests were a bit closer than expected. As a whole, the Big Ten went 5-7 against the spread with Wisconsin and Michigan State sweating out wins. 

Michigan is sure to fall from the ranks after getting hammered by Alabama and it appears to be a very long season for Penn State.

One of the teams we tagged last week as a potential sleeper in the conference was Illinois. The Fighting Illini covered as 10-point home favorites in a 24-7 victory over Western Illinois. Staying true to form, we really liked what we saw from the Illini defense. As you know, defense still wins championships and on a larger scale, it looks like the national champion Crimson Tide are picking up where they left off.

Here are this week’s selections: 

Saturday, Sept. 8

Wisconsin -7½ at Oregon St.: The Beavers must be chomping at the bit to get this game started after their season opener against Nicholls State was postponed due to weather. They are hardly one of the favorites in the Pac-12 this season, but they come into this matchup with revenge on their minds after last season’s 35-0 blowout at the hands of the Badgers as 20-point road underdogs in Week 2. 

Oregon State went into that game with eight starters out of the lineup and listless after an embarrassing 29-28 loss in overtime to Sacramento State as a 27½-point home favorite in the season opener. This will not be the case this time, especially at home.

Wisconsin did not look like the No. 12 team in the nation a 26-21 win over Northern Iowa as a prohibitive 32½-point home favorite. The Badgers never trailed, but their defense gave up two long pass plays that resulted in TD’s to make things a little too close for comfort. It is obvious that Danny O’Brien is no Russell Wilson and Wisconsin’s vaunted running game is still stuck in first gear. OREGON ST.

Georgia -3 at Missouri: While all the attention in the SEC is going to Alabama and LSU, the real team to watch in this power conference could be Georgia. The Bulldogs rebounded from a slow start in 2011 to reel off 10 straight victories before losing to the Tigers in the SEC Championship. 

This season, the Bulldogs pasted Buffalo 45-23 last Saturday, but could not cover the huge 38-point spread. This year’s squad is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball with 16 starters back from last year. Aaron Murray looked sharp against the Bulls, completing 15-of-26 passes for 258 yards and 3 TD’s. Todd Gurley rushed for 100 yards on just eight attempts and added two more scores on the ground. 

This will be Missouri’s first game in the SEC after coming over from the Big 12. The Tigers opened with a 62-10 rout over Division I-AA Southern Louisiana in a game that had no posted line. It will be a whole new ball game come Saturday. GEORGIA.

Vanderbilt -3 at N’western: The Commodores kicked things off last Thursday night with a very gritty performance in a 17-13 loss to No. 9 South Carolina as 6½-point home underdogs. Vanderbilt is a very good team that has the unfortunate situation of playing in the SEC, going 4-1 in non-conference play. Vandy also has the benefit of a few extra days rest.

Northwestern needed some late-game heroics to get by Syracuse 42-41 as a 2-point road underdog. The Wildcats’ offense only generated 213 yards passing and the loss of QB Dan Persa from last season could become painfully evident in this game. Also very suspect is the Wildcats’ defense as a whole. Syracuse rolled-up 596 total yards of offense including 470 yards through the air. VANDERBILT.

Last week’s record: 2-2.



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