Only one week into the Big Ten season and several conference teams have already distinguished themselves – both good and bad.
Penn State, which tied Ohio State for the league championship last season, is starting out behind the 8-ball after losing its conference opener at home to Iowa. Likewise for Michigan State, last year’s third-place team, who lost at Wisconsin and is 1-3 to start the season for the first time since 1998.
Michigan and Minnesota could be considered overachievers at this point, Illinois and Northwestern could be considered underachievers, and the remainder of the teams fit somewhere in between.
Here is a quick look at the Big Ten schools, in early conference standings order, and how they rank compared to preseason forecasts.
Iowa (1-0, 4-0) – The Hawkeyes weren’t exactly considered championship contenders since they lost running back Shonn Greene, last year’s Big Ten MVP, as well as defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul. So far, however, Kirk Ferentz’s team has found a way to win each week even though three of its four victories have come by 11 points or less.
Last week’s win over Penn State was an attention-getter, but considering the fact the Hawkeyes have owned the Nittany Lions in recent years makes one wonder if Iowa can truly build on that big upset. Going 5-0 shouldn’t be difficult with this week’s game against Arkansas State, but the Hawkeyes return to conference play Oct. 10 to begin a three-week stretch at home with Michigan and on the road at Wisconsin and Michigan State.
You would have to believe a team that ranks only eighth in the Big Ten in scoring offense and ninth in total offense will have to figure out a way to get more points on the board if it truly intends to make a serious play for the championship.
Michigan (1-0, 4-0) – Everyone figured the Wolverines would be better than last season. I’m not sure anyone outside Ann Arbor thought they would be undefeated at this point. Give props to Rich Rodriguez. He perfected a philosophy at West Virginia and has recruited players to Michigan who buy into that philosophy. The question remains how well that philosophy will work when the weather turns cold and bigger, stronger teams begin to pound on U-M’s undersized offensive line.
So far so good for freshman quarterback Tate Forcier, who has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 671 yards and seven TDs against only two interceptions. He has also rushed for 127 yards, and that is second only to Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State among conference quarterbacks. The fact remains, however, that Forcier is still a freshman and has yet to play a road game. That ends beginning this week when the Wolverines head to East Lansing. Next week, they travel to Iowa City.
Additionally, if Michigan is going to continue to rack up wins, the defense must play better. The unit is ninth in the Big Ten in total defense and has surrendered yardage in chunks. Rodriguez has a pretty good thing going on offense, but how the Wolverines play on defense is what will ultimately separate them as contender or pretender.
Wisconsin (1-0, 4-0) – Not unpredictably, the Badgers have gotten things done so far with their running game. The team is second in the conference in rushing offense, averaging 197.8 yards per game. But Bret Bielema’s team has found that it can throw the football a little bit, too. First-year starter Scott Tolzien has thrown for 884 yards and eight touchdowns, and has led his team to an average of 428.0 yards and 36.0 points per game.
Defense? Well, that’s another story in Madison. For a team that excels so well running the ball, it’s perhaps a little bit of a mystery why the Badgers can’t seem to stop the run. They have allowed 145.8 yards per game to four opponents so far, a number that ranks next-to-last in the Big Ten and 73rd nationally in rushing defense. Those numbers are even more leaky when considering the fact UW’s first four opponents have combined for a 5-11 record.
The fun part of the season would appear to be over for Wisconsin, however. Over the next three weeks, the Badgers travel to Minnesota and Ohio State before hosting Iowa.
Minnesota (1-0, 3-1) – Are the Gophers truly overachievers or are they about where they should be? They scored a seven-point victory over Air Force – the only loss the Falcons have so far this season – and they played right with Cal when the Bears were a top-10 team. Last week, though, could have been a signal. After losing two straight games to Northwestern in the waning moments, Goldy finally got over the hump with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to overturn a 24-21 deficit.
Minnesota entered the 2009 season trying to retool its offense and breathe new life into a running game that finished dead last in the conference last year. So far, whatever Tim Brewster has tried hasn’t work. The Gophers remain last in the Big Ten in rushing and it’s really not even close. You have to wonder what happens when/if an opponent puts the clamps on senior wideout Eric Decker, who leads the league and is sixth nationally with 124.8 receiving yards per game.
Figure out a way to take Decker out of the equation and watch Minnesota struggle. Take his yardage away and the Gophers would be averaging just over 200 yards a game. Decker’s teammates are going to have pick things up, especially when back-to-back games at Penn State and Ohio State come around in mid-October.
Ohio State (1-0, 3-1) – Same old Buckeyes. A mini-scare against an early nonconference opponent, a loss to a top-five team and then some muscle flexing as the Big Ten season gets under way. Perhaps the only difference this season is the way the defense is playing. Ohio State has ridden the wave of an attacking defensive front to pitch consecutive shutouts against Toledo and Illinois – teams that have shown themselves to be pretty good offensively.
Not that the Buckeyes are not without question marks. The running game remains in flux as neither Boom Herron nor Brandon Saine have exactly distinguished themselves What does it say about them that Pryor is the leading rusher on the team? Still, the Herron-Saine combo has averaged 103.4 yards per game.
Likewise, Ohio State’s passing game seems a bit sparse. Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey have combined for 27 receptions – exactly one-half of the team’s total. No other wideout has more than five catches so far. Add in Pryor’s sometimes-maddening penchant for continued mental and physical mistakes and Buckeye fans may need to keep the Pepto-Bismol close at hand.
Purdue (0-0, 1-3) – The Boilermakers are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Are they the team that gave Oregon all it wanted in Eugene before falling by only two points, or are they the team that lost to Northern Illinois, a MAC team that had a previous 1-32-1 record against the Big Ten? The Boilers are as hard to figure as head coach Danny Hope’s decision to call a defensive timeout right before Notre Dame scored the winning touchdown last week.
One thing you can figure on is Purdue to try and run up the score on every opponent. Sophomore tailback Ralph Bolden has been the league’s leading rusher all season, and his average of 122.0 yards per game is more than 20 better than anyone else. Meanwhile, first-year starting QB Joey Elliott has thrown for 963 yards and seven TDs this season.
What has kept the Boilermakers from achieving more this season is a porous defense that has allowed 421.5 yards and 30.2 points per game. Both figures are dead last in the Big Ten. Add in 11 giveaways (the most in the conference) and you have a recipe for disaster if those numbers don’t get better.
Indiana (0-1, 3-1) – Since the Hoosiers have had exactly one winning season since 1994, and haven’t won or shared a Big Ten title since 1967, it has been easy to dismiss the team’s good start. Another play or two going their way – not to mention that questionable simultaneous reception call – and IU could have claimed victory at Michigan and been undefeated.
The Hoosiers are a much-improved team, both on offense and on defense. Settling on Ben Chappell at quarterback has solidified what IU wants to do with its offensive attack, and a defense led by hard-charging defensive ends Jammie Kerlew and Greg Middleton have surprised some early opponents.
For all of their improvements, however, Bill Lynch’s team remains an unknown entity. With the exception of kickoff returns (first in the Big Ten) and rush defense (second), the Hoosiers are a middle-of-the-pack team in most categories. Given the lack of success in recent years for the program, however, Lynch would likely welcome a middle-of-the-pack finish in the standings.
Penn State (0-1, 3-1) – Sometimes we tend to dismiss Joe Paterno when he poor-mouths his team. In reality, when JoePa says he really doesn’t know how good his team is, he means it. No one knows how good – or how bad – the Nittany Lions are. When you put three creampuffs on your nonconference schedule, that’s how it’s likely to be.
Last week’s loss to Iowa exposed some possible problems moving forward. For example, the worst two games in quarterback Darryl Clark’s career have now come against Iowa. However, Clark has already pitched six interceptions this season after throwing only six all of last year. Meanwhile, running back Evan Royster’s production is down – way down – from a season ago when he averaged 95.1 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry. This year, his averages are 76.2 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry.
The Nittany Lions are probably good enough defensively to make up for a lot of offensive problems. They are No. 1 in the Big Ten in every defensive category so far. Still, with an offense that features Clark and Royster, you would assume the production gets better. Penn State will likely right the ship and get back on course to its Nov. 7 showdown with Ohio State in Happy Valley.
Northwestern (0-1, 2-2) – Time for a mea culpa. In the season preview issue of Buckeye Sports Bulletin, I picked the Wildcats as a dark horse title contender and actually had them playing in a BCS bowl. Then reality hit, the defense forgot to tackle and Northwestern is just trying to keep its hopes alive for any bowl game.
What happened? For starters, the defense has not played up to snuff and a rebuilt offense simply can’t be required to outscore the opposing team every week. The Wildcats are third in the conference in passing offense and second in scoring, but they’re also fifth in total defense and ninth in scoring defense. Turnovers have also been a problem – Northwestern already has 10 giveaways in four games.
On the bright side, dual-threat quarterback Mike Kafka is leading the Big Ten in passing and total offense. Conversely, teams are beginning to load up against Kafka as the Wildcats scramble to find offensive players who can take the burden off their quarterback. The upcoming schedule could help. Northwestern’s next three opponents are a combined 2-10 so far this season.
Illinois (0-1, 1-2) – Ron Zook may want to circle the wagons in Champaign. His team couldn’t have looked any more disjointed last week at Ohio State if it had been the first day of camp. His team’s Rose Bowl appearance in 2007 is beginning to look more and more like an aberration, and this year’s 1-2 start certainly isn’t helping.
Zook has long had the reputation of being an excellent recruiter who has difficulties coaching up the talent once it gets on campus. His record in three years at Florida was a pedestrian 23-14, but only two years after he left Gainesville, Urban Meyer guided a roster primarily made up of Zook recruits to the national championship. Now in his fifth season with the Illini, Zook has produced a record of 19-32. Throw out the Rose Bowl year and that mark plummets to 10-28, or a ghastly .263 winning percentage.
Zook’s contract calls for an annual salary of approximately $1.5 million and it runs through 2014, but he’s going to be awfully tough for university officials to defend if he doesn’t get his program turned around and turned around quickly.
Michigan State (0-1, 1-3) – They haven’t celebrated a Big Ten championship in East Lansing since 1990, but this was supposed to be Sparty’s year. Then came a fourth-quarter collapse in week two against Central Michigan and things have gone steadily downhill. Perhaps the most difficult part of the three consecutive losses is the fact the Spartans know they could have (and probably should have) won all three.
Head coach Mark Dantonio’s mission now is to get a win anyway he can and avoid the program’s first four-game skid since losing eight of the last nine in 2006. That got John L. Smith fired and Dantonio hired.
It’s not that Michigan State is devoid of talent. Kirk Cousins has done a creditable job in his first year as the starting quarterback, senior wideout Blair White is one of the most underrated receivers in the Big Ten, and linebacker Greg Jones is arguably the best defensive player in the conference. So, why aren’t they winning? Good question.
** Ohio State and Indiana will be meeting for the 83rd time on Saturday with the Buckeyes holding a lopsided 62-12-5 advantage in the series. That includes a 23-2-1 record in Bloomington, and OSU has won on each of its last seven trips to Memorial Stadium. Indiana defeated the Buckeyes by an 8-0 score in 1904 and then didn’t beat Ohio State in Bloomington again until a 41-7 pounding in 1988 … and the Hoosiers haven’t experienced a home win over OSU since.
** The Buckeyes are currently enjoying a 14-game winning streak in the overall series. You have to go back to a 27-27 tie in 1990 to find the last time Ohio State failed to come away with a victory over Indiana. The average margin of victory for the Buckeyes during their current win streak over the Hoosiers has been 22.7 points.
** Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is a perfect 5-0 against the Hoosiers. The average margin of victory for the Buckeyes in those games has been 30.4 points.
** Indiana head coach Bill Lynch is in his third season with the Hoosiers and is playing the Buckeyes for the first time. He will be attempting to become only the second IU coach in the past 50 years to claim a victory over Ohio State. Bill Mallory, who coached the Hoosiers from 1984-96, claimed back-to-back wins over the Buckeyes in 1987 and ’88.
** Tressel has a 5-3 record in Big Ten road openers, including wins in each of the past three seasons. The Buckeyes haven’t lost a conference road opener since a 17-10 defeat at Penn State in 2005. All-time, Ohio State is 60-32-5 in conference road openers.
** The two teams haven’t met since the Buckeyes scored a 44-3 victory over the Hoosiers in 2006. OSU totaled 540 yards of offense – 270 rushing and 270 passing – as Heisman Trophy quarterback Troy Smith completed 15 of 21 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr. caught five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown for the Buckeyes, and he also threw for a 38-yard TD pass to tight end Rory Nicol.
** Indiana has 16 native Ohioans on its roster – six of which are projected to start against the Buckeyes – while Ohio State has only one player from Indiana. That is defensive tackle Dexter Larimore, who hails from Merrillville.
** Ohio State has won at least three of its first four games for the 19th consecutive season.
** IU redshirt freshman kicker Nick Freeland leads the Big Ten in scoring so far this season with 39 points. Last week, he matched a school single-game record with four field goals against Michigan. Freeland has become such an important part of the offense this season that the Hoosiers have been able to convert 16 of their 18 trips into the red zone. Last year, when Indiana went 3-9, they finished dead last in the conference (and 117th of 119 Division I-A) teams in red-zone offense.
** OSU sophomore tailback Dan “Boom” Herron is currently first in the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns with five and tied for fourth in overall scoring with 30 points. A Buckeye hasn’t led the conference in either of those categories since 1995 when Eddie George rushed for 25 TDs and scored 152 points on his way to the Heisman Trophy.
** Another reason why Indiana has started 3-1 is improved play along the offensive line. The Hoosiers have given up only two sacks so far this season, and that not only ties them for the Big Ten lead with Wisconsin, it’s good enough for a tie for the national lead along with 11 other teams including Boise State, Auburn and Oklahoma.
** One problem the Hoosiers have had this season is with penalties. Through four games, they have been flagged more times (31) than any other team in the Big Ten. Conversely, Ohio State has been penalized only 21 times, and that’s tied for the third-lowest total among conference teams.
** Tressel is making a rapid rise up the ladder in terms of all-time Big Ten victories. Last week’s win over Illinois was the coach’s 53rd conference victory, tying him for 18th place with Joe Tiller of Purdue. Next up is Ray Eliot of Illinois (1942-59), who won 54 Big Ten games during his tenure. The legendary Woody Hayes is the career leader in conference victories with 152.
** Lynch is relatively new to the Big Ten, but he is currently in his 17th year as a head coach. He has a 94-83-3 career record with stops at Butler (his alma mater), Ball State and DePauw as well as Indiana.
** Memorial Stadium has been enclosed since the last time the Buckeyes played in Bloomington. The 138,000-square-foot Student-Athlete Development Center is situated in what used to be a vacant space past the north end zone. The two-year project was completed in July and features bowl seating with an outdoor club seating area that encloses the north end of the stadium.
** The Big Ten Network will televise the game with kickoff scheduled shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern. Craig Coshun will handle the play-by-play duties while former Minnesota head coach (and former OSU assistant and player) Glen Mason will provide color commentary. Rebecca Haarlow will report from the sidelines.
** The game is also available on Sirius satellite radio channel 126.
** The Buckeyes return to Ohio Stadium next to host Wisconsin. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern, and the game will televised by ABC and ESPN using the reverse mirror. That means most viewers will get the game on ABC while those outside what Disney determines to be the Big Ten viewing market will see the game on ESPN.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
** The 2009 Heisman Trophy would seem to be Colt McCoy’s to lose. With last year’s winner Sam Bradford still on the shelf with a shoulder injury, and the status of 2007 winner Tim Tebow up in the air after he suffered a nasty-looking concussion last weekend, McCoy is the only one of the preseason favorites left standing. The candidacies of three other contenders – Cal running back Jahvid Best, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead and Miami (Fla.) quarterback Jacory Harris – took major hits last week.
** The 2009 season has reached the one-third mark and only 17 undefeated teams remain at the Football Bowl Subdivision (aka Division I-A) level. The alphabetical list of the unblemished: Alabama, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, South Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, UCLA and Wisconsin.
** The much-maligned Big Ten is one of only three conferences to feature three or more 4-0 teams. The SEC and Big 12 each have four teams with 4-0 records.
** Congratulations to Cincinnati, which has reached its highest-ever ranking in the Associated Press poll. The Bearcats are No. 10 this week.
** Speaking of polls, the media-darling SEC holds down the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 spots in this week’s AP poll with Florida (first), Alabama (third) and LSU (fourth). That marks the first time any conference has held three of the top four spots since 1971 when Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado of the Big Eight were first, second and third.
** Nebraska reached a milestone last weekend with its 300th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium. The Cornhuskers have sold out every game in Lincoln since 1962, and their record during the streak is 261-39.
** With last week’s upset win at Penn State, Iowa is 4-0 for only the third time in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s 11 seasons. If the Hawkeyes can get past Sun Belt Conference member Arkansas State this week, they will have their first 5-0 start since 1995.
** It’s Paul Bunyan Week in the Big Ten. Michigan and Michigan State square off for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, a four-foot wooden statue of the mythical giant woodsman that has gone to the annual winner in the series since 1953. Meanwhile, Minnesota and Wisconsin will resume the longest rivalry in I-A history with Paul Bunyan’s Axe going to the victor. The Gophers and Badgers, who will mark the 119th renewal of their rivalry, first played one another in 1890 and have squared off every season since 1907. The two schools originally vied for the Slab of Bacon Trophy, which mysteriously disappeared in the 1940s. They started playing for the Bunyan Axe in 1948.
** While we’re on the subject of long rivalries, Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) will meet this Saturday for the 114th time. The first meeting in the series was Dec. 8, 1888, and the first collegiate football game played in Ohio.
** Wisconsin kick returner David Gilreath needs only five more yards to become the sixth Big Ten player ever to record 2,000 or more career kickoff return yards. The all-time conference leader is Derrick Mason of Michigan State (1993-96), who returned kickoffs for 2,575 yards during his career.
** Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin is making the most of his first shot of directing a program after 20 years as an assistant. Sumlin, one of only a handful of African-American head coaches at Division I-A, posted an 8-5 record last year in his rookie season and has the Cougars off to a 3-0 record this year. If Sumlin’s name sounds familiar to longtime Big Ten fans, it’s because he was a three-year starter at inside linebacker for Purdue from 1984-86. His head coach with the Boilermakers was Leon Burtnett, who is now in charge of linebackers on Sumlin’s staff at Houston.
** Former Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is finding life as the lead dog comes with its own kind of pressure. Locksley was hired as head coach at New Mexico in the offseason and the Lobos are off to a 0-4 start. Things have gotten so bad that Locksley recently grabbed receivers coach J.B. Gerald by the collar and then punched him, giving the assistant a bloody lip. Gerald told police he didn’t want to file charges, but Locksley was officially reprimanded by New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs. (Krebs served several years as an assistant athletic director at Ohio State.) Locksley has been in hot water almost from the time he arrived in Albuquerque. He was accused of sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed last spring by a former football administrative assistant. That case is still pending.
** A couple of streaks in the lower divisions of NCAA football are worth mentioning. NAIA member Saint Francis (Ind.) extended its home winning streak to 54 games with last week’s 28-7 victory over Marian (Ind.). At the other end of the spectrum, Division I-AA Indiana State dropped a 28-0 decision at home to Youngstown State last week. That extended the Sycamores’ losing streak to 31 in a row.
Last week was one to savor. The Upset Special was good as gold as Iowa knocked off Penn State, and the Hawkeyes finished off a perfect 7-0 week in the straight-up picks. We also finished a season-best 5-2 against the spread, moving the yearly totals to 19-7 SU and 13-12-1 ATS.
Let’s see if we can keep the hot streak going.
No. 22 Michigan at Michigan State: In rivalry games such as these, we are always taught that records should be thrown out the window. I think that is never more true with this year and these teams. As far as I’m concerned, the Wolverines have been doing it with mirrors. Four straight home games have helped, not to mention fortuitous bounces against Notre Dame and Indiana. We are going to get to see how good freshman quarterback Tate Forcier really is as he makes the first road start of his career. On the other sideline is a team much too talented to be 1-3. However, we have seen this act in prior coaching regimes in East Lansing. Unless Mark Dantonio wants to go the way of Bobby Williams and John L. Smith, he’d better get his team untracked sooner as opposed to later. A victory this week would heal a lot of wounds … Michigan State 34, Michigan 31. (12 noon ET, BTN)
No. 3 Alabama at Kentucky: With all of the love the SEC gets for its high-octane offenses, it’s nice to know someone in that conference still stresses defense. Nick Saban’s Tide ranks second nationally in total defense and allows an average of only 47.3 yards per game on the ground. The unit took a hit last week with a season-ending knee injury to linebacker Dont’a Hightower, but even with their leading pass rusher Bama should have enough to stop the Wildcats. Led by quarterback Mike Hartline (former OSU receiver Brian Hartline’s younger brother), Kentucky ranks next-to-last in the SEC in total offense and is coming off a 41-7 home loss to Florida during which it generated only 179 yards. The Wildcats usually keep things close against the Crimson Tide, but close generally isn’t good enough. Bama holds a 34-2-1 edge in the overall series … Alabama 34, Kentucky 7. (12:20 p.m. ET, ESPN 360)
No. 10 Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio): The Bearcats are getting a lot of ink this season and deservedly so. Quarterback Tony Pike is currently third in the nation in passing yardage and tied for second with 11 touchdown passes. He will likely pad his stats this week against the winless RedHawks, who rank 119th out of 120 Division I-A schools in scoring defense. Even if Pike should somehow struggle, however, UC should still be OK. Miami ranks dead last at No. 120 in scoring offense. Bearcats head coach Brian Kelly can pretty much name his own score. Here’s mine … Cincinnati 48, Miami 0. (1 p.m. ET, ESPN 360)
No. 15 Penn State at Illinois: The Fighting Illini are in desperate need of a victory and they draw the unfortunate task of trying to get one against a Nittany Lion team scratched raw from last week’s loss to Iowa. We still don’t really know how good Penn State is this season, and this is the team’s first road test of the season. There have been a couple of notable injuries on the defensive side of the ball for the Lions, but they doesn’t explain the inconsistent play of veteran quarterback Daryll Clark and running back Evan Royster. If they don’t get untracked, Penn State is going to continue to struggle. Still, the Illinois team that played Ohio State last week looked like a listless bunch that had little interest in playing a football game. At least the Nittany Lions still appear to be hungry … Penn State 31, Illinois 14. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC Regional/ESPN)
No. 4 LSU at No. 18 Georgia: While I was looking up stats for some of the other teams in the SEC, I discovered that LSU is dead last in the conference in total offense. Of course, the Tigers could get well this week since the Bulldogs are next-to-last in total defense. Helping make up for their relative lack of defense has been the play of quarterback Joe Cox and sophomore receiver A.J. Green, who leads the SEC with 25 catches for 428 yards and four TDs. You might be tempted to take the Tigers, who have the better defense. But UGA has practically owned SEC West opponents since Mark Richt arrived in Athens. Therefore … Georgia 24, LSU 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 12 Houston at UTEP: The Cougars are quickly grabbing a lot of attention this season. Think of how much more they could grab if their games were televised, especially this one which figures to be a shootout. These two teams have combined for 144 points in their last two meetings, both Houston victories that have been decided by less than a touchdown. The Miners have the home edge in this series, and the Cougars should be on upset alert if they don’t have their heads in the game. But you would think QB Case Keenum (1,160 yards and eight TD passes already) and the nation’s No. 2 offensive team would be enough against a UTEP defense that ranks 109th nationally … Houston 41, UTEP 17. (9:05 p.m. ET, No TV)
No. 9 Ohio State at Indiana: Almost no one is giving the Hoosiers any chance in this game, and that seems reasonable since OSU is working on a 14-game winning streak in the series. But those of you who have been paying attention know this is no ordinary Indiana team. The defense is playing better and the offense can put some points on the board. That said, the Buckeyes are clearly the more talented team. If they can continue the momentum on defense that has carried them the last couple of weeks, the final score should be comfortable enough. Can they record a third straight shutout? Possible but unlikely … Ohio State 34, Indiana 10. (7 p.m. ET, BTN)
Here are the spreads for the above games: Michigan (+3½) at Michigan State; Alabama (-15) at Kentucky; Cincinnati (-28½) at Miami (Ohio); Penn State (-6½) at Illinois; LSU at Georgia (-2½); Houston (-14½) at UTEP; Ohio State (-17½) at Indiana.
I guess you would want to know that the Buckeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the Hoosiers while Indiana is 1-4 ATS in its last five home games against Ohio State. Enjoy the games.