Has anybody noticed the lines on the Big Ten games this weekend?
Via Bodog, here are the lines as of late Thursday (home team in CAPS): NEBRASKA -9.5 over Iowa; MICHIGAN -7.5 over Ohio State; Michigan State -7 over NORTHWESTERN; Purdue -7.5 over INDIANA; Illinois -10.5 over MINNESOTA; and WISCONSIN -14.5 over Penn State.
It feels more like week two or three when Big Ten teams are tuning up for the conference season against MAC schools. And would you take any of the underdogs with any kind of confidence (except perhaps Ohio State)?
Anyway, bet wisely, and here is a look ahead to the six games to wrap up the regular season:
Iowa at Nebraska: Nebraska’s first year in the Big Ten has them saying they’re still going to compete in the last game. So there’s that. Also, this is the 22nd straight year the Cornhuskers have played the day after Thanksgiving. The more you know. Iowa and Nebraska have played 42 times – but not since 2000.
Ohio State at Michigan: Brady Hoke refuses to call it THE Ohio State University. Not only that, he just calls the Buckeyes “Ohio” – and won’t say why. The Buckeyes have owned the Wolverines of late; this has Michigan fans very cross and they expect to win. We’ll see.
Penn State at Wisconsin: The administration at Wisconsin is asking students (and alumni and others just in off the street) to please, please, please be nice to the Nittany Lions, as Jerry Sandusky is no longer with the team. Meanwhile, this is a big damn game: The winner will face Michigan State in Indianapolis next week (I’m guessing the conference would like to see Bucky win).
Illinois at Minnesota: Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus is 2.5 sacks away from breaking Simeon Rice’s single-season record before possibly leaving year early for the NFL. Looking for a trend to pick a winner? The Big Ten provides some clarity with this: “Minnesota has won eight of the last 11 against the Fighting Illini, but hasn’t defeated the Orange and Blue in Minneapolis since 2004. Still, the Gophers own a 19-12-2 edge when playing at home. In this series, the road team has won the last four games…”
Michigan State at Northwestern: Northwestern is still frustrated by Michigan State’s fake punt last year. They vow not to get fooled again. It’s Senior Day for quarterback Dan Persa and his receivers Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore. A good time was had by all, and they will be missed.
Purdue at Indiana: All Indiana has left for 2011 is spoiling Purdue’s season. I’m guessing they don’t, and Purdue becomes bowl eligible at 6-6 (and 4-4 in the Big Ten). Not much to say about this game, but the conference offers this in the pre-game notes: “Ironically, Purdue has a better winning percentage against the Hoosiers in Bloomington (.667, 33-16-2) than it does in West Lafayette (.623, 36-21-4).” I’m thinking they mean “interestingly,” instead of “ironically.” Don’t see much irony there.
And finally …
R.I.P.: Former University of Minnesota All-America gymnast George Patten died at 87. (We like to mention when any All-America gymnasts from Minnesota die.)