Big Ten's Ohio State, Indiana remain in Leaders Division

Sep 11, 2012 3:01 AM

The new college football season is off and running and at Doc’s Sports Services, we are also off to a strong start in our 41st season of professionally handicapping the games.

Each week, we pore through all the matchups on the schedule and put our skills to the test with three of our strongest selections for Gaming­Today. Doc’s particular area of expertise is a thorough understanding of the Big Ten, so most times you will find that at least two of our picks are from that conference. 

Over the past 40 years, the Big Ten has been our “home” conference and we firmly believe in order to gain an edge when wagering on the games you should always bet on what you know best. We also believe that no one in the sports gaming industry has a better insight into Big Ten football than we do.

The three Big Ten/Pac-12 showdowns on last week’s schedule all went to the boys from the West Coast but we were not surprised. The revenge factor was high in Oregon State’s stunning 10-7 victory over Wisconsin as a 6-point underdog at home after getting clobbered last season in Madison. 

Nebraska found out the hard way that UCLA is a much better team than advertised in a 36-30 loss as a 3½-point road favorite. Illinois got hammered by Arizona State in the nightcap 45-14 as a 5½-point road dog to complete the sweep. 

Overall, the Big Ten is now 16-8 straight-up on the year and 11-13 against the spread. Only Ohio State and Indiana remain unblemished in the Leaders Division, while Michigan State, Northwestern, and Minnesota are the only 2-0 SU teams in the Legends.

Here are this week’s selections

E. Mich +22 at Purdue: The Boilermakers will have to be content with a moral victory in last Saturday’s 20-17 loss to Notre Dame as 14-point underdogs on the road in a game that they played well enough to win. This followed their 48-6 romp over Eastern Kentucky as 20-point favorites at home in their opener. Purdue may not be one of this season’s powers in the Big Ten, but its offense is more than capable of putting points on the board behind quarterback Robert Marve. 

This is probably the best defensive unit the Boilers have had in head coach Danny Hope’s tenure. Purdue has always responded well after a loss to the Irish and will look to go into next week’s bye on a strong note.

Eastern Michigan comes into this contest 0-2 both SU and ATS after a 37-26 loss to Ball State in its opener as a 3-point road underdog, followed by a disappointing 31-14 loss to Illinois State as a 2½-point favorite in this past Saturday’s home opener. 

Seeing how the Eagles’ defense gave up 68 points in their first two games to teams that would hardly be considered an offensive juggernaut, this week’s meeting sets up as another long day in West Lafayette. PURDUE.

ND +4 at Mich St: Notre Dame continues to inch its way up the polls with a 2-0 SU start over two unranked opponents. The Irish are clearly Brian Kelly’s best since taking over the reins in South Bend. ND followed-up its 50-10 opening-day rout of Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

The Irish were 14½-point road favorites in that one and last Saturday’s followed it up with a hard-fought victory over Purdue. This week will be a true test for a defense that is good enough to keep the Irish team in every game they play. 

There is no question that Michigan State’s defense is also solid after giving-up a total of 20 points in its first two games. We are not sold on the Spartans yet when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. The stronger play in this showdown could actually be on the UNDER, which should open somewhere around 47 points given that this game sets up as a low-scoring defensive battle. NOTRE DAME.

Houston +17 at UCLA: Last Saturday’s win over the Cornhuskers convinced us that the Bruins could be the sleeper team in the Pac-12 this season. The offense has generated 85 points in their first two games behind a passing attack that is averaging 306 yards to go along with a rushing unit that is currently ranked second in the nation in yards per game.

Johnathan Franklin has been a stud with 431 yards rushing on 41 carries and quarterback Brett Hundley is quickly establishing himself as a duel threat with 507 yards passing the ball and another 121 on the ground. Throw in the fact that UCLA still has last season’s 38-34 loss to Houston as a 1½-point underdog on the road fresh in its mind.

This Cougars team is a mere shell of their former self. With no Case Keenum to lead the way, the Cougars’ offense stumbled out of the gate and they suddenly find themselves 0-2 both SU and ATS. After an embarrassing 30-13 loss to Texas State as a 34½-point home favorite on opening day, Houston fell to Louisiana Tech 56-49 as a 3-point home underdog. 

This will go from bad to worse this week on the road against the Bruins. UCLA.

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