Michigan State (-3) at Indiana
** The Hoosiers offense is putting points on the board, as they have scored 30 points or more in each of their three games this season. That’s the first time since 2000 they’ve opened the season with three 30-plus point outputs.
** Despite being 2-1, Indiana has been outgained in all three games this year. For the year, the Hoosiers have been outgained by 500 yards (1,444 to 944 total yards). Indiana has racked up 506 yards on the ground, but has also given up 647. There is an even more drastic difference through the air, where IU has tallied 438 yards in three games while giving up 797.
** Michigan State's QB chart on Tuesday listed Stephan Reaves as the number one, followed by Drew Stanton. However, don’t be surprised if Stanton gets his first start this Saturday at Indiana. Reaves started last week’s game versus Notre Dame, but was pulled at halftime after going 7-for-20 for just 66 yards and three interceptions. Stanton took over in the second half, and played very well throwing for 110 yards and running for 53. Stanton was scheduled to be the starter at the beginning of the season, but has had some lingering effects from last year’s knee injury. Our word is his knee responded very well after Saturday’s action, actually better than it has all season.
** MSU starting left tackle Stefan Wheeler left last Saturday’s game with an ankle injury and did not return. X-rays were negative and despite not practicing on Monday, Wheeler was sure he would be ready for this Saturday. Also, starting defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson who injured his ankle against Notre Dame will play this weekend.
Penn State (+3.5) at Wisconsin
** Wisconsin RB Anthony Davis will be out once again this weekend. After suffering an undisclosed eye injury in the opener, he has since missed the last two games. He will be re-evaluated next week to see if he can play against Illinois on October 2nd. His replacement, Booker Stanley, rushed for 135 yards in last week’s 9-7 win at Arizona.
** The Badger’s top WR is 'questionable' this Saturday versus Penn State. Junior Brandon Williams injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win. He was seen after the game wearing an immobilizing boot.
** While nearly every opponent says that playing at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium can be very tough and intimidating, the Badger’s home record as of late isn’t very impressive. In fact, since the start of the 2000 season, UW’s home record in Big Ten Conference games is just 5-11 straight up. The average margin of defeat in those home conference games is 9.5 points per game.
** The Nittany Lion coaches are concerned about PSU’s tendency to turn the ball over this year. In last week’s win over Central Florida, the Lions turned the ball over six times. They have 11 turnovers the last two games. Only three teams in Division 1A have more turnovers this year than PSU. While the Nittany Lions still beat CFU handily despite the turnovers, the coaches know that now that they start conference play, those wins will turn into losses unless they hang onto the ball.
** After missing a meeting and being benched against Boston College two weeks ago, backup tailback Austin Scott got back on the field last week. He carried the ball six times for 47 yards. For the season, Scott has 163 yards and is averaging a whopping 9.6 yards per carry. Tony Hunt, the starter, has 318 yards and is averaging eight yards per carry. Not a bad one, two combination.
Iowa (+13) at Michigan
** This line is quite a bit higher than it would have been had Iowa not been blasted last week at Arizona State, 44-7. The Wolverines were three-point favorites and last year in Iowa City and lost the game, 20-17. Iowa was just a 3 1/2-point dog two years ago at the Big House and whipped Michigan, 34-9. Thus, the Wolverines have been waiting for this one. Michigan had two games circled on its schedule, obviously Ohio State and Iowa. The Hawkeyes HAVE NOT been a 13-point dog or more in any game since 2000.
** Looking inside the numbers of this Big Ten series, we found some interesting things. Since 1980, the Hawkeyes have been favored just ONE time versus the University of Michigan. That was in 1984. Other than that, they have been an underdog ever other time. Also, the Hawks have controlled this series when it comes to the spread, covering 13 of the 18 games played since 1981.
** As we mentioned in last week’s report, the Hawks offense is a definite problem. After struggling versus an average Iowa State team two weeks ago, they REALLY struggled in Arizona. The Sun Devil defense, which is good but not great, held Iowa to just six first downs and 100 yards of TOTAL offense. They also basically held the Hawks scoreless, as Iowa’s only points came on an 83-yard punt return with just :18 seconds left in the game. Michigan’s defense is far more talented than either of the previous two, so expect Iowa to struggle again. We do however, expect the Iowa defense to play much better after getting pelted last weekend.
** Michigan’s starting tailback, David Underwood, did not play last week in a 24-21 win over San Diego State. He suffered a mild concussion the week before against Notre Dame and wasn’t ready for Saturday. He practiced lightly last Tuesday and Wednesday, but head coach Lloyd Carr didn’t think he was playing at the same level. Thus, he held Underwood out. Freshman Michael Hart, his replacement, ran for 125 yards versus SDSU. Underwood should be available this Saturday.
Purdue (-21) at Illinois
** Illinois scored a touchdown with just 1:04 remaining in the game last week to beat Western Michigan, 30-27. It was the Illini’s first win over a Division 1A opponent in 12 tries. Their last win over a Division 1A opponent came at Northwestern on November 23rd, 2002.
** Illinois starting QB Jon Beutjer did not dress versus WMU because of a bruised sternum. His replacement was true freshman Brad Bower. Bower was 10-of-19 for 177 yards, but also turned the ball over three times (two interceptions and a fumble). The good news for the Illini is, Beutjer is expected to be back under center this Saturday. He took place in a light workout on Sunday and was expected to resume full contact on Tuesday.
** Here is an interesting stat regarding the Boilermakers. Purdue has been a road favorite of 20 points or more just three times since the start of the 1980 season. Most recently when the Boilers were favored by 24 at Indiana last year and won, 24-16, failing to cover. Before that game, the last time Purdue was a 20-point road favorite or more was in 1981.
** The Boilers had just an "OK" week of practice during the bye week according to head coach Joe Tiller. However after giving his team both last Friday and Saturday off, they came back Sunday and were very sharp. Normally Sunday is reserved for light workouts and non-contact stuff, however Tiller had his team in full pads. PU’s top corner, Antuan Rogers, who missed the first two games with a strained hammy, practiced on Sunday and is expected to be back in the lineup this Saturday.
Northwestern (+15) at Minnesota
** The Wildcats are hurting on defense, and now is not the time to be hurting on that side of the ball. Minnesota are averaging just under 45 points per game, and is second in the nation in rushing offense. NU starting LB Adam Kadela injured his knee in last week’s three-point win over Kansas and will be out four to six weeks. The Cats also have had three key defensive lineman miss time. Because of that, NU employed a three-man defensive front last week for much of the game. If they do that this weekend, the Gophs will kill them on the ground. Thus, head man Randy Walker said they will go back to a four-man front for "most" of the game this weekend.
** While NU loses a key player on defense in Kadela, Walker expects to have at least one if not two key contributors back on the field this weekend. Starting DE David Thompson should definitely be back after missing the Kansas game due to a pulled hamstring. Also two-year starting LB John Pickens (shoulder), who has missed all three games to this point, is hoping to return. The Cats will need all of the depth they can get against the powerful offense of Minnesota.
** Minnesota’s starting QB Bryan Cupito, who has played very well in his first season as a starter, left the Colorado State game last week due to a concussion. Despite the fact the head coach Glen Mason keeps injury report under wraps, our word is Cupito should be able to play this Saturday. Cupito has 627 yards and 5 TD’s passes in his three starts.
** As good as Minny’s offense has been, the defense is still a concern. Despite more experience and a more athletic stop unit, teams are still putting up pretty good numbers against the Gophs. In their first three games, all wins, the Minnesota defense has given up over 400 total yards in each. Teams are averaging 437 yards per game on offense which ranks them 94th out of 117.