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October 28, 1999 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-28

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14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 28, 1999

Week of football provides little in way of entertainment

By Richard Haddad
For the Daily
To be bluntly honest, this week does-
n't present a very tantalizing palette of
games for college football fans. The Big
Ten's ranked teams get a short break
from their otherwise ruthless schedules,
and only two games across the nation pit
members of the Top 25 head to head.
Last Saturday's action, on the other
hand, was wild, as several top teams
took a tumble in, major upsets, and oth-
ers cemented their rankings in defeating
formidable opponents. The BCS rank-
ings were finally released this week, so
bowl contenders have a new incentive to
shoot for.
Illinois earned its first conference win
by overcoming a 20-point deficit to
knock off mighty Michigan on the road.
Illinois coach Ron Turner has another
chance to ruin championship hopes
when the Nittany Lions visit
Penn State is firmly entrenched in a
Sugar Bowl slot, and each victory
moves it closer to ringing in the millen-
i um on Bourbon Street. By holding off
a scare from Purdue, the Nittany Lions
survived their toughest challenge yet
this season. But they can't afford to
relax. As evidenced by Illinois, in the
Big Ten, easy weeks are non-existent -
Iowa and Northwestern could make
quite an argument against that state-
ment, but that's another matter.
Both Penn State and Illinois capital-
ized on their opponents' mistakes to pull
off emotional victories in their last out-
ings. Penn State was outgained offen-
sively, but its defensive unit stepped up
once again to score twice off of
turnovers and preserve a flawless
record. Illinois took advantage of bad
snaps and blown coverage in a success-
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Ron Dayne and the Wisconsin offense should be doing plenty of celebrating in the
end zone this weekend, as they face a weak rush defense from Northwestern.

ful fourth-quarter rally and surprised the
nation by trampling the once-feared
Wolverine defense.
A new weapon has emerged for
Illinois in the form of Rocky Harvey,
and the speedy tailback hopes to pro-
duce more big plays against the star-
studded Nittany Lions' defense.
Quarterback Kurt Kittner has also
emerged as one of the conference's best
The Penn State D has stepped up as of
late, and Illinois' recent success should
give them even more focus going into
Champaign. LaVar Arrington, Courtney
Brown, and the rest of Penn State's
defensive Front will be intent on getting
to Kittner early. If they succeed in doing
that, and if the offense plays like it has
been, the Ninany Lions should continue
on their march to glory.
Illinois has not won two straight con-
ference games since 1994, and they do
not have enough talent to end that
Penn State 34, Illinois 13
Both Purdue and Minnesota are com-
ing off of heartbreaking losses, in which
crucial giveaways secured their respec-
tive fates.
After starting the year with three
straight wins, Purdue stumbled in a

four-game stretch against four confer-
ence powers. The Boilermakers man-
aged to salvage just one win over that
period but can take comfort in the fact
that the worst times are now behind
Minnesota has also suffered more
than its share of sorrows. The only blem-
ishes on the Gophers' record have been
three-point losses to Wisconsin and
Ohio State.
They graced the Top 25, fell out after
their first loss, and then jumped back in
last week. But the most recent polls are
showing the Gophers disrespect once
Even in losses, Purdue's Drew Brees
keeps racking up major fantasy foot-
ball numbers. The clash between
Brees' V8-engine-powered-juggernaut
and Minnesota's top-ranked defense
provides an opportunity to make use of
the worn-out phrase "strength vs.
strength matchup" - an opportunity
that won't be wasted here.
Defensive back Tyrone Carter is back
from an injury and figures to be all over
the field. Then again, it was Carter's
fumble on a kickoff return that ruined
Minnesota's chances for a late come-
back, so the team might be better off if
he got hurt again.
The Gopher ground game, led by

Thomas Hammer, attacks a sieve-like
Purdue rush defense in a definite
strength vs. weakness matchup.
Minnesota's defenders proved them-
selves up to the task in shutting down
Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio State the
past three weeks. The Gophers have
only allowed three aerial scores this sea-
But Brees can sling the ball much bet-
ter than Brooks Bollinger, Kittner or
Steve Bellisari. He will be outstanding
as usual, and the Boilermakers' defense
will do enough to reward his play and
move up in the conference standings.
Purdue 27, Minnesota 23
Ron Dayne is a frighteningly large
human being.
He has affirmed that fact repeatedly
in plowing over half of the Big Ten, and
every Badger has hung on for the ride.
Wisconsin is also looking unstop-
pable at home lately. But Evanston is a
location that drives fear into opponents'
Oh, but wait...
In reality, Northwestern has surren-
dered more than 30 points to each of its
last four opponents, making Wisconsin's
eyes grow wide in anticipation. The
Wildcats' only conference win has come
at Iowa's expense, and that doesn't even
really count.
Dayne made Michigan State's tops-
in-the-nation rush defense look as solid
as tapioca, rumbling for 214 yards in a
40-10 slaughter. Northwestern's rush
defense is ranked 83rd, so that could
definitely hurt them.
The Wildcats have a decent runner of
their own in workhorse Damian
Anderson, who currently leads the Big
Ten in carries. But Wisconsin's defense
is as strong as its offense. The Badgers
figure to put this one away early enough
to render Northwestern's running game
insignificant anyway. Quarterback
Bollinger is 4-0 since taking over the
helm, and provides a nice second option
when Dayne is nullified.
That won't happen in Evanston.
Dayne should chew up a sizable chunk
of the yardage that separates him from
the NCAA career record, and keep his
Heisman campaign intact. The only
thing intimidating about the men in pur-
ple is their SAT scores. Wisconsin beat
Indiana by 59, and Indiana beat
Northwestern by 17, so...
Wisconsin 82, Northwestern 6
Iowa lost to Northwestern.
To put into perspective the sheer
incompetence of lowa's football team,

read the preceding segment again.
While Ohio State is in the midst of its
worst season in recent memory, Iowa
has been simply terrible. The Hawkeyes
have yet to venture into the left side of
the conference win-loss column and
they don't figure to do so anytime soon.
Ohio State escaped the Metrodome
with one of its most gratifying victories
of the year. While the offense sputtered
at times, the Buckeyes' special teams
stepped up to help defeat the solid
Gophers. Michael Wiley showed flash-
es of brilliance against the, staunch
Gopher defense, so he should waltz
through the collection of sub-mediocrity
that Iowa sets out to face him.
Hawkeye quarterback Scott Mullen
put some impressive stats on the board
against Indiana in his first start of the
season, throwing sixty times for 426
yards but falling short in an attempted
comeback. But then again, Indiana has
the only defense in the Big Ten that's
worse than Iowa's, so Mullen's numbers
don't mean much. Ohio State's sec-
ondary is strong, and Ahmed Plummer
and Damon Berry will make sure that
Mullen is silenced. That is, when the
Buckeyes' front seven isn't driving him
into the turf.
The Buckeyes' bowl game hopes are
still in jeopardy but playing Iowa should
get them a little closer to qualifying and
boost the team's struggling confidence.
And they will give the Hawkeyes anoth-
er kick in the face to add to their collec-
tion in the process.
Ohio State 31, Iowa 16

No. 5 FLORIDA vs. No. 10 GEORG
This Saturday's biggest contest takes
place at a neutral site, Jacksonville's
Alltel Stadium. The "World's Bi'gest
Outdoor Cocktail Party" will be rocking
as these two go at it with SEC East doti-
inance at stake. Florida and Georgia are
currently tied for first place at 5-1.
With a defeat of Tennessee already *
their pocket and two conference patsies
remaining on their schedule, the Gators
will takea firm hold on the division title
with a win. The Bulldogs have lost to the
Vols and have two tough games coming
up, so their prospects would be in ques-
tion even with a victory.
Georgia's offense has shown the abil-
ity to score points in plentiful amounts
this season. Quarterback Quincy Carter
has played nicely, tossing 304 yard,
worth of pigskin his last time on, lt,
In contrast, Florida's quarterback situ-
ation has been a source of controversy
lately, and Steve Spurrier has statedh$
he will not hesitate to pull Doug
Johnson in favor of Jesse Palmer if
Johnson struggles running the "Fun 'n'
Gun", which has only been held below
30 points once this season.
Florida's edge is on defense. T
Gator rush defense has earned the maf
tie of best in the nation, allowing unde;
fifty yards of land per game.
Florida is looking for itsl00th win of
the decade, and it should be able to get
that plus a commanding lead in the race
for the SEC East.
Florida 42, Georgia 30


While Ohio State has had difficulty against some weak opponents like Ohio, it
should have no trouble against Iowa, the worst the Big Ten has to offer.


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