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Big 10 Report

   by ASA - 09/15/2011

Ohio State (+3) at Miami - 7:00 PM CST, ESPN

OSU: 2-0 SU. 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. Toledo, W 27-22

MIA: 0-1 SU. 0-1 ATS – Last week: OFF

Don’t buy too much into Ohio State’s near debacle against Toledo last week. Toledo is a solid team and their coach Tim Beckman had a stellar gameplan against his former team. Plus, Ohio State probably had its sights set on Miami this week and overlooked the Rockets a bit. The Buckeyes now make their first road trip of the season to Miami where they are underdogs for the first time since late 2009.

OSU has allowed just 81 rushing yards on 57 carries through two games (1.4 YPC). As a team, Miami rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns in its Labor Day loss at Maryland. The ‘Canes rushed for 120 yards against OSU last season and had a punt and kickoff return for touchdown. They were ultimately doomed by QB Jacory Harris’ four interceptions and lost by 12. Harris returns from his one-game suspension this week (as well has three other Miami starters) and he’ll be extremely motivated to have a redemption performance this season.

Things to consider: The Canes are just 16-33 ATS as a home favorite dating back to 2001 but they’ve pulled off a couple of big wins (vs. #20 Texas A&M in 2007 and vs. #8 Oklahoma in 2009).

Injury/suspension notes: OSU RB Hall, and DB’s Howard and Brown were reinstated this week but Herron, Posey, Adams are still out. Three starters remain suspended for Miami (SS Armstrong, DT Vernon, and WR Johnson) and OT Henderson is out with a back injury.

Arizona State at Illinois (-1) 7:00 PM CST, Big Ten Network

ASU: 2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: vs. Missouri, W 37-30

ILL: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs FCS South Dakota State, W 56-3

This marks the first real test of the season for Illinois after two big wins against Arkansas State and FCS South Dakota State (combined score of 89-18). Sophomore QB Scheelhaase has completed 71% of his passes, rushed for 172 yards, and accumulated four total touchdowns through two games. Arizona State really struggled against a mobile QB last week and could have some problems if Scheelhaase gets on a roll.

The Sun Devils are off of an extremely emotional game. ASU was at home in front of a “black-out” crowd against a ranked team. The Devils survived a comeback attempt and ultimately won in overtime. This is a let-down situation as the Devils are playing in their first road game of the season at an underrated Big Ten squad.

Something to consider: Illinois is just 3-9 vs. non conference BCS opponents under head coach Ron Zook. Arizona State has dropped three straight road openers but the last two have come by a total of just four points against two quality opponents (Georgia and Wisconsin).

Washington at Nebraska (-17) - 3:30 PM CST, ABC

UW: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. Hawaii, W 40-32

NU: 2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: vs. Fresno State, W 42-29

The Cornhuskers normally stout defensive unit allowed 444 yards, 24 first downs, and 29 points to Fresno State at home last week. Nebraska should expect much more from its defense going forward and coach Bo Pelini will make adjustments. Offensively, the Huskers had its ups and downs. QB Martinez rushed for 166 yards and two scores, but completed just 48% and threw two picks.

Washington was outgained by 254 by FCS Eastern Washington in week one and only won by three points despite +4 turnover ratio. They then staved off a Hawaii comeback in week two and won by eight points. Washington was dominated by the Huskers, 21-56, early last season and then beat Nebraska, 19-7, in the Holiday Bowl for a shocking turnaround. Nebraska had 385 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the first matchup, then gained just 94 yards with no touchdowns in the Bowl game.

Something to consider: The Huskies rank 7th in the nation defending the run (43 yards per game) and dead last in the nation defending the pass (403 yards per game). Nebraska has lost two straight home games against non-conference BCS foes (Virginia Tech in 2008 & USC in 2007).

Injury report: Nebraska star CB Dennard remains questionable and is unlikely to play for the third straight week.

Michigan State (+5.5) at Notre Dame - 3:30 PM CST, NBC

MSU: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. Florida Atlantic, W 44-0

ND: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: at Michigan, L 31-35

MSU’s defense was supposed to struggle after losing four of its top five defenders from a year ago. Instead the Spartans have allowed just six points through two games, albeit to FCS Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic. Last week FAU had just one first down and just 48 total yards. The Spartans will have their first real test against a fully motivated Notre Dame squad this week.

Notre Dame is on the brink of starting the season 0-3. The Irish have out-gained both opponents so far, racking up over 500 yards in two losses; but have committed five turnovers in each game. They also have the extra motivation to revenge last year’s loss in this rivalry game, when MSU used a fake punt in overtime to beat the Irish.

Something to consider: Michigan State has covered seven straight times at Notre Dame while the Irish are just 1-6 ATS the last seven games vs. the Big Ten.

Injury report: MSU could be without two starters for the second straight week as WR Bennie Fowler (foot) and DE Tyler Hoover (back) remain questionable heading into the weekend.

Penn State (7.5) at Temple 12:00 PM CST, ESPN or ESPN2

PSU: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: vs. Alabama, L 11-27

TU: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS – Last week: at Akron, W 41-3

The Nittany Lions were dominated by Alabama for the 2nd year in a row to the tune of 27-11. It’s worth noting that Bama has arguably the best defense of any team in the past decade, and PSU gained 251 yards in the loss. The outcome may have been different if the Lions could have avoided their three turnovers. They’ll look to bounce back against a Temple squad that they’ve beaten 28 straight times – including five straight by an average score of 35-4 (two shutouts).

Temple is 2-0 and has outscored its first two opponents 83-10 (FCS Villanova and Akron). RB Bernard Pierce has 297 rushing yards and six touchdowns already and he’ll need a big performance if Temple is going to pull off the upset. Defensively the Owls lost its top four players from a year ago but seem to have found a few capable replacements. PSU still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback and lacks an offensive identity and that could keep Temple in this game.

Something to consider: Since 1977 (25 games), Temple has topped 14 points just four times (!) against Penn State with an average score of 37-9.

Suspension report: Stephfon Green (No. 2 running back) has been re-instated to the team after being suspended for disciplinary reasons, yet remains questionable for Saturday.

Wisconsin (16.5) at Northern Illinois - 3:30 PM CST, ESPN3.com

UW: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. Oregon State, W 35-0

NIU: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: at Kansas, L 42-45

This will be Wisconsin’s first “road” game of the season (game is being played at Soldier field yet is deemed “home” for Northern Illinois. The Badgers won the previous two meetings (07 & 09) by a combined score of 72-23. QB Wilson has been brilliant in his first two games as a Badger, completing 79% for 444 yards and five touchdowns. RB Ball leads the ground game with 181 rushing yards and six touchdowns so far.

NIU’s first year head coach is Dave Doeren, who was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons. He has a great grasp on the Badger’s roster make-up and offensive and defensive philosophy (UW had to change defensive signals this week so he wouldn’t recognize). He inherited a ton of returning talent on offense led by senior quarterback Chandler Harnish. Harnish is completing 75% through two games and has 11 total touchdowns (7 passing, 4 rushing).

Something to consider: Wisconsin is just 4-11-1 ATS its last 16 games as a double-digit road chalk.

Injury report: Wisconsin lost starting CB Devin Smith to an ankle injury against Oregon State and he’s out for the season. That could be a big absence against Harnish and this NIU offense.

Pittsburgh at Iowa (-3) - 12:00 PM CST. ESPN or ESPN2

PITT: 2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: vs. FCS Maine, W 35-29

UI: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: at Iowa State, L 41-44

This Iowa defense lost four players to the NFL from last year and really struggled in the loss to Iowa State last week. Iowa was outgained by 100+ yards and had eight fewer first downs. ISU QB Jantz was 18-of-40 with 3 INT’s against FCS Northern Iowa in week one, but he torched this Hawkeyes defense to the tune of 25-of-37 with 4 touchdowns last week. The Hawks ‘D’ needs to rebound this week against a Pitt team that runs a high-tempo spread offense.

Pitt is 2-0 under first-year coach Todd Graham with two unimpressive wins over Buffalo and FCS Maine. RB Ray Graham leads the nation with 332 rushing yards (5.6 YPC) with six touchdowns. He could have a big day against this Hawkeye run defense that surrendered 194 rushing yards to ISU. Pittsburgh is just 1-4 since 2007 in non-conference road games against BCS schools.

Something to consider: Iowa is just 6-5 straight up the last 11 years following its rivalry game with Iowa State. That includes a loss at Pittsburgh in 2008.

Northwestern (-9) at Army – 3:30 PM CST, CBS Sports

NU: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. FCS Eastern Illinois, W 42-21

Army: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. San Diego State, L 20-23

After a big road win against Boston College in week one, Northwestern returned home and easily dispatched of FCS Eastern Illinois, 42-21. QB Colter had another strong performance (3 rushing touchdowns) as a starter in place of injured Dan Persa. This defense did allow 132 rushing yards (5.1 YPC) and that’s concerning heading into a game against a team that averages 353 rushing yards per game.

Army outgained San Diego State by 154 yards and held the ball for +25 minutes yet still lost by three points. They ran the ball 77 times for 403 yards and fumbled eight times (lost three). Look for another run-dominated gameplan against the Wildcats.

Something to consider: Army is 1-11 straight up and 3-9 ATS as a touchdown or more underdog at home since 2005.

Injury report: NU QB Persa remains questionable heading into this weekend. Northwestern hasn’t needed him yet and may not need him against Army.

Eastern Michigan at Michigan (-30) - 12:00, Big Ten Network

EMU: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. FCS Alabama State, W 14-7

UM: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS – Last week: vs. Notre Dame, W 35-31

Eastern Michigan has a pair of unimpressive wins over FCS schools Howard and Alabama State. So take the Eagles strong defensive rankings (8th in total yards, 8th in scoring) with a grain of salt. EMU is averaging 331 rushing yards per game and that’s good for fifth in the nation.

Michigan will try to avoid a hangover after a huge Saturday night win in which they scored the final touchdown with just seconds left against rival Notre Dame (the first night game ever in Ann Arbor). The Wolverines are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games favored by 20 points or more (0-4 ATS when favored by 28 points or more).

Something to consider: Eastern Michigan has lost 12 straight road openers by an average of 28 points per game. Michigan is 9-0 against EMU and has won the last four by an average of 48-15.

Miami (OH) at Minnesota (4.5) - 3:30 PM CST, Big Ten Network

Miami: 0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS – Last week: OFF

UM: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. New Mexico State, L 21-28

The status of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is uncertain this week after he suffered a seizure on the sidelines against New Mexico State. OC Limegrover and DC Claeys have been running practices this week in anticipation that Kill will not be there this weekend. Minnesota can ill afford to lose continuity this early in the season as the Gophers are 0-2 in Kill’s first season as head coach. Minnesota was a heavy favorite against New Mexico State yet was bested in almost every aspect of the game last week.

Miami is 0-1 after a week one loss at Missouri under new head coach Don Treadwell. Defensively the RedHawks held Mizzou to just 291 yards and 15 first downs in the narrow loss. This team has a lot of talent and could be primed for an upset against a Minnesota team that’s not mentally prepared.

Something to consider: Miami already has a strong track record against the Big Ten (4-1 ATS the past five seasons). And now Treadwell takes over after serving as the OC at Michigan State the past three seasons so he knows the Big Ten well.

FCS SE Missouri State at Purdue – 12:00 PM CST, Big Ten Network

FCS SE Missouri State: 0-1 SU

PU: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS – Last week: at Rice, L 22-24

Purdue lost its first game of the season in heartbreaking fashion against a strong Rice team last week. Rice blocked a short field goal attempt on the final play to seal the deal. Purdue gets (what should be) a clean-up game here against FCS SE Missouri State.

QB Robert Marve has been cleared to play this week since recovering from a knee injury. Caleb TerBush has filled in nicely and remains #1 on the depth chart but Marve will see some snaps.

FCS South Carolina State at Indiana - 3:30 PM CST, Big Ten Network

FCS SC St: 1-1 SU

IU: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS – Last week: vs. Virginia, L 31-34

Indiana has suffered two tough losses to start the Kevin Wilson era, but should finally get win number one this weekend against FCS South Carolina State. IU was down by 20 points early in the 2nd half against Virginia last week. They made a huge comeback, scoring 28 unanswered points and actually took an eight point lead into the final minutes. The Hoosiers then squandered that eight-point lead and managed to lose to the Cavaliers by three points.

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