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ASA's Big Ten report

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Illinois won their first game under first year head coach Ron Zook who came from Florida to take over a struggling Illinois team.  Zook came away with a big win in his debut, but found that this overtime victory was a lucky one.  Rutgers pretty much dominated the game until the 3rd quarter.  Illinois did not show much ability to move the ball in the first 3 quarters but somehow found themselves still in the game thanks to a poor Rutgers kicking game that made only 3 of their 7 FG attempts.  This game was an example of what there is to come for the Illini which.  Things will not come easy for the Illinois this season, but this overtime victory may help them stride in the right direction.  They will now host a San Jose St. team that is off a win over Division 1AA Eastern Washington.  The Illini are 14 point favorites for their meeting with the Spartans.  A quick side note for this game is that the Illini are 18-10 ATS coming off of a SU win in the last 6 years.  This could also be the last victory that Zook and the Illini see for quite sometime as they travel on the road for 3 out of their next 4 games.  After their road trip they then entertain two tough Big Ten rivals in Penn State and Wisconsin and then once again hit the road for two games against the Big Ten powerhouses Ohio St, and Purdue.  Needless to say this game may be Illinois last chance for victory for quite a while.




Indiana will be playing host to Nicholls State University (located in Louisiana) who is a member of the Southland conference in Division 1-AA.  This will be Nicholls State season opener as they postponed their season opener September 3rd due to Hurricane Katrina.  That game was supposed to take place at Utah State.  The Colonels were supposed to fly out of New Orleans into Indianapolis for the game this Saturday.  This game was in doubt earlier in the week, however Nicholls State will now charter a flight out of Baton Rouge.  New Indiana head coach Terry Hoeppner will look to get Indiana off to a 2-0 start for the second year in a row which hasn’t happened since the 1993-94 seasons.  Hoeppner, who came from Miami (OH), ranks among the top 10 active coaches in the nation for winning percentage.  Coach Hoeppner has brought a new spread attack offense to the Hoosiers.  Last week IU ran up a total of 385 total yards of offense which is unordinary for the Hoosiers.  Look for this offense to only improve as coach Hoeppner’s new spread attack suits the Indiana players very well.  Here are a few key statistics to look at for this upcoming game.  Hoeppner coached teams have never been shut out.  His teams are 36-8 SU when they score first and 18-1 SU since 2003 when scoring first.  They are also 28-7 when leading after the first quarter.  IU  is also a very solid 44-3  SU when leading going into the 4th quarter.  When looking at the Indiana Hoosiers themselves they are a solid 18-2 SU and 12-5-1 ATS in home openers since 1985.    





The Iowa Hawkeyes may have had the most impressive performance in the Big Ten last week even though they were playing a depleted Ball State squad.  Iowa beat Ball State by a score of 56-0 (led 49-0 at half) in a game that Iowa Head coach Kirk Ferentz called off the dogs after the 1st quarter.  Iowa scored on 6 of their first 7 drives.  Starting quarterback Drew Tate was 9-10 throwing for 99 yards playing only 1 quarter.  Tate looked good but coaches were very satisfied with the Hawkeye’s running game which struggled last year ranking nearly at the bottom of all of college football.  The Hawkeyes ran the ball 47 times for 241 yards with true freshman Shonn Greene leading the way with 121 of those yards.  Iowa’s defense was also very stellar as usual as they held Ball State to only 22 total yards in the first half and 122 in the second half.    With this victory over Ball State the Hawkeyes have now won 9 games in a row dating back to last season.  However they should get a better test this week as they travel in state to meet the Cyclones of Iowa State.  In this series Iowa State is 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS since the 1998 series.  However the favorite in this series is 8-4 ATS over the last 12 years.  So look for this game to be a lot more exciting than a 56-0 thrashing over Ball State.    




Michigan handled Northern Illinois in their season opener 33-17 September 3rd.  However this score was a little bit deceiving as the Wolverines defense struggled to stop Northern Illinois.  NIU simply stopped themselves turning the ball over 5 times but still tallied 435 yards of total offense which included 211 of them on the ground.  This is definitely cause for concern for many big blue fans as the Wolverines are going to be playing host to offensive guru Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who are coming off of a big victory against Pittsburgh.  The Michigan offense on the other hand looked pretty impressive at the start of the game scoring 27 points in the 1st half.  On the other hand they came back in the second half and scored only 6 points.  U of M did end up compiling some good offensive numbers however rushing for 208 yards and passing for 239.  Look for this game against the Irish to be another good one as the underdog in this series is 8-1 ATS in the last 9 games and 15-3-1 ATS the last 19.


Michigan State


Michigan State head coach John Smith said before the season that he expected his offense to be dynamite and we found that he wasn’t lying after pummeling Kent State 49-14 pilling up 354 yards rushing and 311 yards passing.  That is a total of 685 total yards which was the second highest total in school history.  Starting quarterback Drew Stanton completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards on the day while rushing for another 60 yards on 10 carries.  The rushing attack was led by Jehuu Caulcrick who ran for 140 yards on 14 carries.  The MSU defense looked solid against the run allowing only 14 rushing yards but on the other hand Kent State quarterback Michael Machen completed 31 of 52 passes for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Michigan State will welcome the Hawaii Warriors who are coming off of a 63-17 loss to the #1 USC Trojans.  In that defeat, Hawaii lost two key players.  Starting safety and team captain, Leonard Peters and starting WR Jason Ferguson will both be out this week because of injury.  The Rainbows rotate their QB’s Tyler Graunke and Colt Brennan and the two combined to throw for 377 yards last week vs. USC.  This game will also feature a little revenge in which the Warriors beat the Spartans 41-38 last year after MSU went up 21-0 to start the game.  The two coaches are refusing to send the other game tapes from the first week causing even more controversy.  Look for Michigan States offense to once again light up the scoreboard against a Hawaii team that has a struggling defense.  Hawaii was horrid on the road last year going 0-4 SU & ATS.  Not only that, they games weren’t even close as the Bows’ were beaten by an average score of 58-16. 






Minnesota was another Big Ten team that looked very impressive in their season opener.  Minnesota traveled to Tulsa and came home victorious winning 41-10.  Junior running back Laurence Maroney rushed for a career high 203 yards including 2 touchdowns.  Maroney was not the only offensive player rolling for the Gophers as they amassed 529 total yards of offense.  The key to this game could be Colorado State’s emotional state after losing 31-28 to rival Colorado last week.  CSU should have some revenge on their minds after losing 34-16 at home last year to the Gophs, however can they overcome their last second loss to the Buffs last Saturday?  The Rams actually seemed to be in control of the game, leading 21-10 entering the 4th quarter.  Colorado then ended up scoring 3 touchdowns in the final quarter and eventually ended up winning the game on a 47 yard field goal with 4 seconds left.  The Rams will be without two starters in this game.  Fullback Nnamdi Ohaeri and CB Darryl Williams were both injured in last week’s game vs. Colorado.  Minny has always seemed to do very well in their non-conference portion of the schedule covering 8 of their last 9 dating back to 2002. 





Northwestern enters their second game of the year against in state rival Northern Illinois that is only 76 miles from Evanston.  The Wildcats will be coming off of a victory against the University of Ohio where they jumped out to an early 31-7 halftime lead.  They then scored one more time in the second half to beat the Bobcats 38-14 in a pretty well played game.  Quarterback Brett Basanez completed 27-37 passes for 353 yards in only 3 quarters of work.  The only problem this week is Basanez may not have his top receiver on the field.  Mark Philmore sprained his ankle in the Ohio win and his status is up in the air this weekend.  He is also the Cats #1 punt returner.  This week NU is a 2.5 point favorites against Huskies.  Northern Illinois brings in a good team that would have given Michigan a dogfight if it were not for their 5 turnovers.  NIU will bring in a great rushing attack that Northwestern may have troubles with.  NIU ran the ball 32 times for 211 yards against what was suppose to be a very tough Michigan Wolverines defense.  This will be a big test to see if Northwestern is going to compete in the Big 10.  The Wildcats are 5-0-1 SU and 2-0 ATS against NIU, but we look for the Huskies to have a great shot at getting their first win ever vs. Northwestern. 



Ohio State


Ohio State played host to Miami (OH) in a game that many people though would be closer than what it was.  The Buckeyes rolled in the first game of their season beating Miami (OH) by a score of 34-14.  This week however they will play a much more impressive opponent in the Texas Longhorns in a game that may be one of the biggest non conference games in years.  The Buckeyes have an all time regular season record of 22-3-1 against schools in the big 12.  However they are just 5-7 ATS vs. the Big 12 Conference.  Ohio State pretty much handled The Red Hawks throughout the game in all facets.  This week however quarterback Troy Smith will be back from his suspension which has held him out of his last 2 games with the Buckeyes.  Smith’s return will result in a co quarterback effort (along with Justin Zwick) as the Buckeyes host the Longhorns. Head coach Jim Tressel has not stated who will start, however he did say both will play.  When looking at the Longhorns it was noticeable that they were in full stride as they hammered their first opponent Louisiana Lafayette by a score 60-3.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.  The Buckeyes are a whopping 55-5 SU at home vs. non-Big Ten opponents since 1980.  They are also 129-30-1 SU at home vs. all opponents since 1980.  With Ohio State being at home and favored by only a point, this game should be a special one. 



Penn State


Penn State will enter this week as 18.5 favorites against the Cincinnati Bearcats after beating South Florida by a score of 23-13.  Penn State did roll out to a 17-0 second quarter lead and played all aspects of the game fairly well.  Penn State may have also found a dominating rusher that has been missing in years past.  Sophomore running back Tony Hunt ran the ball 14 times and tallied a total of 140 yards with one touchdown.  With Hunt running well the Nittany Lions controlled the ball not having to throw the ball downfield.  With this being said Penn State only threw the ball 15 times completing 9 passes for 90 yards.  The Penn State defense also played very well in this game allowing only 297 total yards of offense while also forcing 2 turnovers one in which was a fumble returned for a touchdown.  Many are saying this year’s PSU stop unit will be better than their 2004 version.  That would be quite a task as the 2004 Nittany Lions were the ONLY team in the country to allow 21 points or less in every game.  This week’s match up will bring the Cincinnati Bearcats to Penn State in a game where the Nittany Lions have outscored the Bearcats on an average of 36-9 in their last 8 meetings.  In those 8 meetings Penn state is 7-1 SU and 4-4 ATS.  The Bearcats are also 1-6 SU but 5-2 ATS against the Big Ten in the last 6 years.  Cincinnati beat Eastern Michigan 28-26 in game one but will have a much tougher time moving the ball against this Penn State team.  Question is, can PSU score enough points to secure a cover. 





The Badgers will be at home once again playing host to Temple a team that got hammered 63-13 against Arizona State.  After looking at the Temple defense the Badgers offense is probably salivating for Saturday.  The Temple defense gave up 300 yards rushing on 44 attempts.  This is promising news for Badgers running back Brian Calhoun who rushed for 258 yards and 5 touchdowns.  The Badgers however saw plenty of good things from their offense are looking to patch up a defense that Bowling Green absolutely tore apart.  The good news for the Badgers is that after allowing 35 points in the first half they bounced back to hold Bowling Green to only 7 points in half number two.  As over 34 point favorites for this game the Badgers should handle Temple easily.  The only problem might be, getting up big early and then letting the second and third teamers get some time.  That may allow Temple a possible back door cover.  Also, look for Wisconsin to work much more on their passing game this week after attempting just 10 passes vs. BG.  This will be a “ho-hum” game for Wisconsin after beating Bowling Green last week and they have to travel to North Carolina next Saturday.  They will not be in it emotionally, but the Badgers will still win big. 





After going 10-0 SU last week, the Big Ten picked up some national bragging rights.  However, Purdue was the only Big Ten team that didn’t win a game and that is because they will open their season against Akron on Saturday.  With 18 returning starters set to return and a solid quarterback in Brandon Kirsch (6 career starts at QB) the Boilermakers are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten.  Akron will also be playing their first game of the season but as a big underdog of 34 points.  The Boilermakers are 11-4 SU and 10-4 ATS in their last 15 home openers.  They are also 28-13-2 ATS as a home favorite under head coach Joe Tiller.  Akron on the other hand has not had much success playing against Big Ten teams where they are 0-7 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games getting outscored by an average of 46-17.  BCS teams in general have given Akron all kinds of problems as one would expect.  Since the start of the 2001 season, the Zips have played eight teams from big time conferences (Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland, Virginia (twice), Wisconsin, and Penn State) and lost all 8 SU (3-5 ATS).  In those games, Akron has been beaten by an average score of 45-17.  After the Big Ten swept the MAC last weekend, we don’t see Purdue changing that trend.     


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