College Football News and Notes Week 12

College Football News and Notes Week 12

LSU, Oregon move atop BCS standings

One-loss Tigers and Ducks have plenty to worry about with unbeaten Kansas rising to No. 3 and its Big 12 rival Oklahoma at No. 4.

With Ohio State suddenly so last week's news in the Bowl Championship Series standings, the emerging story lines are now Louisiana State, Oregon and Kansas.

Illinois' 28-21 upset win over previously top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus has almost ensured a crazy three-week sprint to the BCS finish line on Dec. 2.

One-loss Louisiana State, completely recovered from its triple-overtime loss to Kentucky, is back on top of today's standings with an average of .9802.

Oregon, idle this week, moved out of the agonizing No. 3 slot into No. 2 position at .9383. This is important because only the top two teams in the final BCS standings, to be released Dec. 2, will advance to the Jan. 7 national title game in New Orleans.

No team, however, near the top should get too comfortable.

Kansas, 10-0 for the first time since 1899, lurks at No. 3 with a BCS average of .9094 while Oklahoma is No. 4 at .8540.

Rounding out the top 10 are Missouri at No. 5, followed by West Virginia, Ohio State, Arizona State, Georgia and Virginia Tech.

USC, a 24-17 winner against Cal, moved up six positions to No. 11. The Trojans finally got some help in the computer average component as they improved from 23 to 13.

Why is Kansas so dangerous?

If the Jayhawks beat Iowa State, Missouri and then win the Big 12 title game, likely against Oklahoma, they will finish 13-0 and might jump any one-loss team in the BCS standings.

That could leave a BCS points fight for the No. 2 spot between LSU and Oregon, with the loser getting dropped into, respectively, the Sugar or Rose bowls.

What's left for the contenders:

Louisiana State plays at Mississippi this week, hosts Arkansas on Nov. 23 and then must play the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 1. The Tigers' opponent will be Tennessee if the Vols clinch the SEC East with wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Oregon plays at Arizona on Thursday night, and visits UCLA on Nov. 24 before closing the season in Eugene against Oregon State.

Even if Oregon wins out, it can only breath easy if LSU loses one of its last three. The Ducks should also be rooting for Kansas to lose to Missouri and Oklahoma to lose to Oklahoma State.

A one-loss Oklahoma coming off a Big 12 title-game victory over Kansas might also pose a threat to one-loss Oregon.

Oregon would be in control of its national-title fate if not for a last-second home loss against Cal on Sept. 29. The Ducks were inches away from the possible game-tying touchdown when receiver Cameron Colvin fumbled through the end zone for a touch back.

So while Ohio State's loss made things more interesting, nothing is close to being settled.

Hawaii improved to 9-0 with a win over Fresno State on Saturday but stayed at No. 16 in the BCS rankings. The Warriors are trying to secure an automatic BCS bowl bid with a top-12 finish.

The Warriors play at Nevada on Friday and then close the season, at home, with the two strongest teams on their schedule: Boise State and Washington.

Boise State (9-1) moved up two BCS positions this week to No. 18. The Broncos, who secured an automatic bid last year and proved they belonged with a Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, still have an outside shot of getting to No. 12 but only if they beat Idaho at home this week and win at Hawaii on Nov. 23.

www.latimes.com

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Hawaii hopeful of Brennan's quick recovery from concussion
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONOLULU -- From the mood in the locker room, it was difficult to tell whether Hawaii had won or lost Saturday night. Perhaps it was both.

The Warriors were supposed to be celebrating after holding off rival Fresno State 37-30 to remain undefeated and keep their BCS hopes alive. The win was marred by the loss of quarterback Colt Brennan who suffered a concussion early in the fourth quarter.

Brennan tied the NCAA career mark for touchdown passes, throwing his 121st, before he was knocked out by a jarring hit that reverberated throughout Aloha Stadium.

''We're definitely happy to win. But around the locker room it was kind of dead knowing that one of our leaders, our brothers, went down,'' said Ryan Grice-Mullen, who broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark with his nine catches for 128 yards.

Hawaii (9-0, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference) and No. 5 Kansas are the only remaining unbeaten teams. The Warriors are off to their best start since 1925. They have won 10 straight, and 19 of their last 20 games.

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Texas tackle Hills out with broken left leg
November 11, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -Texas offensive tackle Tony Hills will miss the rest of the season after fracturing the fibula in his left leg.

Hills was injured Saturday in the Longhorns' 59-43 victory over Texas Tech.

``I'm disappointed that this is how my college career is going to end, but I'm going to do everything I can to help this team for the rest of the season,'' Hills said Sunday. ``I think I can still have an impact in the locker room as a leader and I'll be helping Coach (Mac) McWhorter get the offensive line ready to play.''

The No. 12 Longhorns finish the regular season against Texas A&M on Nov. 23.

Hills had started 24 straight games for Texas.

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Ole Miss reinstates DE Hardy for game against LSU
November 12, 2007

Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron has reinstated defensive end Greg Hardy for Saturday's game against No. 1 LSU.

Hardy was suspended two weeks ago for violation of team rules.

"He has done everything that we've asked him to do over the last two weeks, so we are going to reinstate him on the team," Orgeron said Monday. "He will be at practice today, so we're excited about that and we expect him to do very well with us."

Hardy was suspended before the game at Auburn on Oct. 27 and had been kept away from the team. Orgeron said Hardy did nothing illegal and attended all classes and tutoring sessions during his suspension.

Despite missing two games, Hardy remains the Southeastern Conference's leader in sacks (one per game), tackles for loss (1.94 per game) and forced fumbles (0.38 per game).

When asked about the sophomore's reaction to being reinstated, Orgeron said: "Greg's ready to be back on the team. Greg did everything I asked him to do."

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Ducks have chance to make statement
FOXSports.com

Which teams are in the hunt for a BCS game, and what do they have to do to get in? Rich Cirminiello breaks it down for all the teams still alive, including the new No. 1 LSU.

A weekly look at those teams with a realistic shot at this year's five BCS bowl games:

Ballin' for N'Awlins

The front-runner(s) to play in the national championship game

LSU (9-1, 5-1) — A visit from Louisiana Tech Saturday wound up being the perfect remedy for a Tigers team that had played four straight games vs. ranked SEC opponents. LSU waltzed to a 58-10 win, getting the starters to the bench after three quarters for well-earned breathers. Ohio State's loss to Illinois means the Tigers are a near lock to finish the season in the Superdome, provided they win their next three games.

Still Thinking Big (Easy)

The top contenders for the national championship game

Oregon (8-1, 5-1) — For the first time in a month, the Ducks and dinged-up QB Dennis Dixon had a chance to lick their wounds during a bye week. For a program that's posing for a spot in the national championship picture and doesn't get as much exposure as Ohio State and LSU, Thursday's nationally televised trip to Arizona is an astronomic chance to impress a wide audience.

Kansas (10-0, 6-0) — Don't look past Iowa State. The Jayhawks, fresh off a spanking of Oklahoma State, are a win over the Cyclones from setting up a tilt with Missouri on Nov. 24 that'll decide the Big 12 North. The winner of that would remain afloat in the national title race. Go ahead and take a bow if you predicted back in August that Kansas would be the last of the unbeaten teams from a BCS conference.

Oklahoma (9-1, 5-1) — Freshman RB DeMarco Murray erupted for four touchdowns against Baylor, helping bring the Sooners one step closer to a Big 12 championship and a shot at a national championship. Somewhat of an afterthought when the best one-loss teams are discussed, Oklahoma stands to get a huge boost in the BCS rankings if it can beat either Kansas or Missouri in the Alamodome in December.

Win Out, and You're In


Schools that control their own destiny

Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) — The Buckeyes' stunning loss to Illinois probably changes their best-case bowl destination from New Orleans to Pasadena, opening up a spot in the national title chase for a few other schools. Ohio State can ponder what might have been for only a short time, because this week's trip to Ann Arbor will decide the Big Ten champion.

Michigan (8-3, 6-1) — The Wolverines' eight-game winning streak came to a grinding halt at Wisconsin, but in the grand scheme of things, very little has changed for the program. A win over Ohio State, its first since 2003, still places Michigan in the Rose Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years. The health of QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, issues for the past month, will again be hot topics leading up to Saturday's showdown.

West Virginia (8-1, 3-1) — Mountie QB Patrick White allowed Louisville back into Thursday night's game with a couple of fumbles, then took it right back on a game-winning, 50-yard bolt up the middle. West Virginia remains in hot pursuit of a Big East crown, needing wins over Cincinnati, Connecticut and Pittsburgh to lock up one of the 10 openings in the BCS.

Missouri (9-1, 5-1) — The Tigers are rolling toward what they hope will be another shot at Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. Mizzou has won four straight since losing by 10 in Norman, getting tested on Saturday by Texas A&M before pulling away late. Provided the Tigers can get past Kansas State, their game with Kansas on Nov. 24 will decide the North champion.

Clemson (8-2, 5-2) — How things have changed around Howard's rock. A month ago, the Tigers appeared to be dead in their quest for an elusive ACC championship. After four consecutive wins, however, Clemson will host sliding Boston College in Death Valley this Saturday with the winner representing the Atlantic Division in next month's conference title game.

Boston College (8-2, 4-2) — Back-to-back losses to Florida State and Maryland have the Eagles reeling and in danger of falling completely out of the BCS bowl race. Saturday's loss to a Terps team that was on life support was especially inexcusable for a program that was thinking national championship just a couple of weeks ago. That said, if Boston College can beat Clemson in Death Valley this weekend, it'll win the Atlantic Division and await the winner of the Nov. 24 game between Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Virginia (9-2, 6-1) — Tired of playing in nail-biters this fall, the Cavaliers absolutely embarrassed Miami in Saturday night's Orange Bowl send-off. Virginia now has two weeks to prepare for its visit from Virginia Tech, a game that'll determine the ACC Coastal champion.

Virginia Tech (8-2, 5-1) — The Hokies' answer to blowing a game to Boston College a few weeks back? Beating Georgia Tech and Florida State by a combined score of 67-24. Frank Beamer's first win in eight tries against the 'Noles kept Virginia Tech on pace with Virginia in the ACC Coastal. The Hokies get a sinking Miami squad this week before traveling to Charlottesville on Nov. 24.

Tennessee (7-3, 4-2) — By pummeling Arkansas in Knoxville, the Volunteers pulled within two wins — over Vanderbilt and Kentucky — from winning the SEC East. The Tennessee running attack actually outplayed the vaunted Hogs tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones en route to an easier-than-expected 34-21 victory.

Connecticut (8-2, 4-1) — Although the Huskies got badly exposed by Cincinnati on Saturday, the formula for a Big East title and a BCS bowl game has not changed. If Connecticut can beat Syracuse next weekend (likely) and West Virginia in Morgantown on Nov. 24 (unlikely), it'll be the lone one-loss remaining in conference play.

S.O.S.

Schools that are looking for help

Arizona State (9-1, 6-1) — The Sun Devils rebounded from last week's loss to Oregon by holding off a feisty challenge from UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Arizona State is tied atop the Pac-10, but is sealed off from the title if the Ducks keep winning. In all likelihood, this week's visit from USC will determine the second Pac-10 team to earn a bid to a BCS game.

USC (8-2, 5-2) — A complete collapse by Oregon is the only way the Trojans are winning a sixth straight Pac-10 title, but if they can beat Arizona State and UCLA, they'll absolutely earn an at-large BCS bid. USC remained in the running to avoid the Holiday Bowl by beating Cal 24-17, getting a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown from RB Chauncey Washington.

Georgia (8-2, 5-2) — For the third week in a row, the Bulldogs offense erupted for more than 40 points, leading the team to a shockingly easy 45-20 rout of Auburn. Not only did the win keep Georgia in Tennessee's hip pocket in the SEC East, it also eliminated the Tigers from at-large contention. If the 'Dawgs close out the regular season with wins over Kentucky and Georgia Tech, they'll be very tough to ignore for that second SEC berth.

Texas (9-2, 5-2) — For the Longhorns, it's one more win before waiting. By beating Texas A&M on Nov. 23, Texas will be eligible to receive a BCS at-large invitation, but will it be left empty-handed? As well as Kansas and Missouri are playing out of the Big 12 North, bowl committees will have no shortage of good choices when deciding which team, besides the champ, warrants the league's second berth.

Cincinnati (8-2, 3-2) — With Connecticut in the rearview mirror, the Bearcats can turn their attention to West Virginia, this week's visitor to Nippert Stadium. If Cincinnati wins its next two games and the Huskies lose one of their final two games, Cincy will win all tiebreakers and represent the Big East in a BCS bowl game, likely the Orange Bowl.

Florida (7-3, 5-3) — The Gators did what they had to at South Carolina Saturday, getting seven touchdowns from QB Tim Tebow in a lopsided win over the Gamecocks. Its SEC schedule completed, Florida must now sit back and hope that Georgia and Tennessee drop a conference game in the next two weeks to create a tiebreaker situation in the East Division.

Kentucky (7-3, 3-3) — It's a longshot, but there's still a sliver of hope for a Wildcats team that will wrap up the regular season vs. the top two teams in the SEC East, Georgia and Tennessee. Kentucky kept a pulse on Saturday afternoon, shaking off Vanderbilt with a Derrick Locke touchdown scamper midway through the fourth quarter.

BCS Buster

Non-BCS schools with a chance to play in a major bowl game

Hawaii (9-0, 6-0) — The Warriors stayed unbeaten Saturday, just one of two left in the country, holding off a late charge from Fresno State, 37-30. None of Hawaii's final three games against Nevada, Boise State, or Washington will be gimmes, particularly if QB Colt Brennan is slow to recover from the vicious hit he took from Bulldogs LB Marcus Riley.

Boise State (9-1, 6-0) — Can a one-loss WAC team earn an at-large BCS bowl bid? If there's a program capable of making a run at it, it's Boise State. The Broncos have quietly won eight games in a row, getting better with each passing week. In a season that's short on one-loss teams, Boise State just might catapult back into the at-large picture if it can upend Hawaii on Nov. 23.

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Ok. State's Bowman to miss final 2 games
November 12, 2007

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma State wide receiver Adarius Bowman will miss the remainder of the regular season with an injured right knee.

The Cowboys' leading receiver with 61 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns this season, Bowman injured the knee when he was hit by Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib after he made a catch for a 3-yard loss in Saturday's 43-28 loss to the Jayhawks.

"I would prefer to not talk about the injury just for the fact that I'm sure he would not appreciate that. It is a knee injury. It is not severe, but he is out for the year," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said Monday at his weekly news conference.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Bowman ranks 18th in the nation with an average of 93.2 yards receiving and he's considered a prime NFL draft prospect. In a game against Kansas last season, Bowman caught 14 passes for a Big 12 record 300 yards and four touchdowns.

"You're going to miss his presence on the field. There's just no way around saying that we're going to have another guy that's going to do exactly what A.D.'s done because that's not possible for us right now," offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said.

Gundy said it's possible Bowman would be able to return if the Cowboys (5-5, 3-3 Big 12) were to win a sixth game and qualify for a bowl game. Oklahoma State closes the regular season with road games at Baylor this Saturday and at No. 3 Oklahoma on Nov. 24.

"I think he's got a three-week injury," Gundy said. "Again, I'm guessing on that. It may be earlier than that, but I'm doing the best I can."

Without Bowman, the Cowboys have a significant drop-off at wide receiver. The senior had double the amount of catches and receiving yardage as Oklahoma State's second leading receiver, tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

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Weatherford probable for 'Noles vs. Terps
November 12, 2007

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford is probable for Saturday's game against Maryland.

Weatherford sustained a concussion Saturday during the Seminoles' 40-21 loss at Virginia Tech.

``As far as I know I'm good to go unless I have problems during the week,'' Weatherford said Monday. ``As of right now, they are going to be cautious. But I feel really good.''

Weatherford said he felt fine after a 90-minute workout Monday.

Florida State (6-4, 3-4 ACC) coach Bobby Bowden said backup quarterback Xavier Lee was cleared for Saturday's game, but said he would leave Lee's status on the depth chart up to offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

``When I think about it and think through the process I'll make a decision,'' Fisher said.

Lee missed two games for violating the team's academic attendance policy.

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Sorting out the one-loss wonders
FOXSports.com

Exclusion of the Kansas Jayhawks from this column should not be considered a prediction or consequence of their alleged inability to pass an obtuse variable known as the "eye test."

The Jayhawks, you may have noticed, are unbeaten, and as the only BCS-league-affiliated team in such a predicament, they do not qualify for today's examination. We're here to determine which of the nation's one-loss college football teams look ripe for participation in the national championship game.

It should be noted that KU — currently No. 3 in the BCS rankings — will play Missouri (No. 5) in a presumably neutral venue, and (if successful) could take a shot at Oklahoma (currently No. 4) for the Big 12 title. Wins over those teams could catapult the Jayhawks over any lingering eye-test hurdle into New Orleans; if not, we have another dandy column premise for December.

Anyway, while BCS anarchists are rubbing their hands together, let's take a look at this week's one-loss teams and their relative challenges in the prevailing system.

Arizona State

The Sun Devils, who each week start about as quickly as an abandoned tractor, are eighth in the BCS poll, but check in at a robust No. 4 with the computers.

That may have something to do with not playing Akron or Youngstown State or Kent State, or Florida International or Illinois State or Central Michigan or North Texas or Middle Tennessee State or Tulane during the non-conference march.

Under first-year coach Dennis Erickson, ASU also has a very good loss (to current BCS No. 2 Oregon), but its signature win over Cal now looks a bit weak because the Bears have four losses.

The Sun Devils could add some human-poll support by waxing USC on Thanksgiving night, but a win over the Trojans should gather less cache than usual and will be a struggle to accomplish.

Ohio State

By losing to Illinois in Columbus, the Buckeyes dropped from first to seventh in the BCS roll call.

Their signature victory came against Wisconsin (No. 25 in the BCS), while a season-closing win at Michigan would provide the mighty Wolverines with their fourth loss and do very little for OSU's advancement bid.

Timing, it seems, is everything. And a decent non-league schedule (USC is on the ticket for two years starting next season) couldn't hurt.

West Virginia

The Mountaineers are sixth on the BCS ladder and eighth with the byte-me crowd.

Their lone defeat was administered by the three-loss South Florida Bulls, and the Big East has cannibalized itself to such a degree that the registered victories aren't considered impressive enough for upward mobility.

Like Arizona State and, well, damn near everyone else, West Virginia must hope for a close to the regular season that's even nuttier than the first two months.

Missouri

Like Arizona State, the fifth-ranked Tigers have a very good loss (to No. 4 Oklahoma) and the opportunity to avenge it.

Throw in a date with current No. 3 Kansas, and Missouri — if some crazy things occur to the teams ahead of them — could generate some real anarchy in the polls.

Unfortunately, the human voters have to be convinced that a league with three teams currently ranked in the BCS top 5 is not a product of a league that has become what its detractors thought the Pac-10 used to be — all offense (four teams average more than 41 points per game).

The Tigers have been handed no favors by a schedule that missed Texas in the conference and included Illinois State outside of it.

Oklahoma

The fourth-ranked Sooners could wind up with victories over Missouri (already bagged) and theoretically unbeaten KU (league title game), but are still being haunted by blowing a game at Colorado.

OU is only seventh with the computers, which suggests that they certainly look the part to 2/3 of the voting process (humans).

Oregon

As a dues-paying member of the Pac-10 Really Has Been A Top-Flight Conference For Years organization, I'd like to say the second-ranked Ducks have earned a title shot.

But I may not be able to.

Their loss (to Cal, at home) didn't seem like much of a condemnation at the time, but the Bears' signature fall from grace is hurting Oregon now. The big conference wins — ASU and USC — occurred in Eugene and were enough to give the Ducks (No. 3 with the computers) a nice boost with the humans.

It also should be noted that the non-league rout of Michigan — already of marginal help — could be taken down a peg in importance if the Wolverines succumb to Ohio State.

However, the Ducks' biggest problem is holding off that potential, scheduled-related boost for Kansas with a season-closing run that only offers Arizona, schizophrenic UCLA and a showdown with rival Oregon State.

LSU

Critics would like to crack on the Tigers for coming thiiiiiiis close to losing four games in a row.

But they didn't, and while style points seem to be a necessary evil in the current system, winning close games used to be considered the mark of a champion.

While LSU wouldn't get as much pop from a league-title-game win as would the Big 12 victor, its body of work should be enough (if the Tigers run the table, of course) for a quick trip to New Orleans.

They are, in my opinion, the best of the one-loss teams.

Unless they can't tackle Darren McFadden.

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Spinal condition ends Louisville player's career
November 15, 2007

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville defensive end Deantwan "Peanut" Whitehead's football career has ended due to a spinal condition that showed up after an injury in last week's loss to West Virginia.

Whitehead was diagnosed Thursday with congenital cervical spinal stenosis after seeing a specialist in Indianapolis, the school said. He was injured on a tackle early in the 38-31 loss to West Virginia on November 8.

The condition is a narrowing of the spinal column around the spinal cord, the same problem that ended the career of teammate Mike Donoghue, an offensive lineman, last month.

Whitehead, a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder from Birmingham, Ala., had 25 tackles and two sacks in nine games for the Cardinals this season. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman last season and recorded 16 tackles and four sacks.

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Florida's Harvin out vs. Florida Atlantic
November 15, 2007

Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin missed another day of practice Thursday and will not play when the 14th-ranked Gators host Florida Atlantic.

Coach Urban Meyer ruled Harvin out of Saturday's game, saying the team's leading receiver was still experiencing migraine headaches and receiving treatment at the school's medical facility.

"He was in the infirmary all day," Meyer said following practice Thursday.

Harvin missed most of practice last week because of a sinus infection and the migraines. He did not travel with the team to face South Carolina.

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Little should play against Georgia
November 15, 2007

Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Running back Rafael Little should be able to start against Georgia after making significant progress from a back injury, coach Rich Brooks said Thursday.

Little, who was injured Saturday against Vanderbilt, was able to practice for the first time in a week. Brooks had listed him as questionable on Wednesday.

Two other Wildcats running backs, Tony Dixon and Alfonso Smith, remain questionable with other injuries, Brooks said.

Little leads the team in rushing with 752 yards and has three touchdowns. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in all five games in which he has been available for the entire game but has missed three games and parts of two others because of injury.

The Wildcats (7-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) will try to beat the Bulldogs for the second straight year Saturday in a game that could have major bowl implications for both teams.

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Big Ten Report
By ASA 

Michigan and Ohio State meet with the conference crown on the line for the second straight year. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern all look to cement a bowl berth. And Wisconsin looks to maintain its hold on the Paul Bunyan Axe by keeping Minnesota winless in Big Ten action.

Here's a look forward to the week that will be in the Big Ten.

Illinois

The Illini proved last year's near upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State was no fluke as they followed through on the threat in this year's meeting. Juice Williams had the best game of his career with four touchdowns to lead Illinois to a 28-21 upset road win over the top-ranked Buckeyes. The Illini will look to extend their three-game winning streak as a 13.5-point home favorite over Northwestern in the regular season finale.

The Illinois secondary will need to follow up its strong showing last week with another this week against Northwestern's potent aerial attack. The Illini are just 74th in the nation in pass defense but their three interceptions of Todd Boeckman proved to be the difference last week. Northwestern lives and dies with quarterback C.J. Bacher's success so if Illinois can repeat last week's performance it should be in good shape.

The Illini have lost four consecutive SU to Northwestern and just 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings. But the Illini are coming off back-to-back easy road wins in which they covered by an average of 19.3 points. They'll be back at home for this game, where they are 36-4-1 SU as double-digit favorites since 1980.

Indiana

The Hoosiers were completely outplayed by Northwestern last week but still had a chance to pull out the win. It was not to be though as the Indiana defense surrendered a last-minute touchdown to fall 31-28. The Hoosiers are bowl eligible with six wins but so are so are three other Big Ten teams. They'll need a seventh win to increase their chances for a postseason game and will look to capture that win when they host Purdue as 2-point dogs this weekend.

Indiana outplayed the Boilermakers in last year's meeting, outgaining Purdue and forcing five turnovers. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they couldn't take care of the ball either as they fumbled four times. Kellen Lewis and James Hardy both played great games with Lewis accounting for 393 total yards and Hardy catching nine passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Indiana will need similar performances from both if it is to conclude its regular season with a win.

Last year's meeting with Purdue was the closest the Hoosiers had been to beating the Boilermakers in a long time. Indiana has now lost five straight against Purdue, losing by an average of 20.4 points per game. The Hoosiers have fared well as home dogs recently in the series, covering two of the last three occurrences by an average of 12.5 points per game. Additionally, the home team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings.

Iowa

Iowa concluded its Big Ten schedule by narrowly beating the lone winless team in conference action, Minnesota, 21-16. The Hawkeyes, who could potentially be distracted by an off-the-field incidence, will conclude their regular season with a solid chance at their seventh win when they host Western Michigan as 14-point favorites.

The Hawkeyes have played Western Michigan just once before and that resulted in a 27-21 home loss in 2000. That game marked the only time Iowa has lost to a Mid-American Conference team since 1994, with the Hawkeyes going 13-1 SU and 10-2 ATS overall during that period. Iowa played the MAC's Northern Illinois earlier this year, narrowly covering a 12.5-point spread in a 16-3 win over the 2-8 Huskies.

Western Michigan has struggled mightily this season, going just 1-7-1 ATS on the year, including a 37-27 home loss to Indiana in Week 2. But the Hawkeyes also lost at home to the Hoosiers, and by a larger margin in a 38-20 result. Iowa, which has won three straight, is 8-1-1 ATS in its last 10 games versus the MAC and 36-16 ATS in its last 52 games as a home favorite.

Michigan

The Wolverines saw their undefeated conference mark ended with a brutal 37-21 loss at Wisconsin last week. That might not matter much to Michigan, though, as Chad Henne and Mike Hart saw little action due to "injuries." While there's no doubt Henne and Hart are ailing, they could've played if necessary. The extra rest will ensure better health for Henne and Hart when Michigan hosts Ohio State this weekend as 4-point dogs with the Big Ten title on the line.

Michigan gave Ohio State a good battle in last year's meeting before falling 42-39. Henne and Hart both had solid outings, combining for five touchdowns. Henne is 0-3 in his career against the Buckeyes but he hasn't played that bad. He has completed 59 percent of his passes for 272.7 yards per game with five touchdowns and just two interceptions. Henne will finish his career atop nearly every Michigan passing statistic but the one thing he wants the most, to beat Ohio State, he has never done.

The Wolverines have lost three straight to the Buckeyes, going just 1-2 ATS and losing by more than a touchdown per game. Michigan has won seven of the last nine meetings SU in Ann Arbor, winning by an average of 14.4 points a game. The Wolverines have been home dogs just four times since 1995 and have gone 3-1 SU and ATS in those games. The only ATS loss in those games came by one point to Ohio State in 2005.

Michigan State

The Spartans responded in a way few expected, rebounding from a disheartening loss to rival Michigan to down Purdue 48-31 on the road. They posted their most well-balanced offensive game of the season, throwing for 266 yards and running for 150. Michigan State could still secure itself a bowl berth but it won't be easy. It will host Penn State Saturday as 2.5-point dogs.

Michigan State has lost three straight to the Nittany Lions but last year's game was closer than expected. The Spartans went into the game as 19-point underdogs but actually took a 13-7 lead into halftime. A lack of a consistent running game, which produced just 14 yards, was their undoing. Penn State again has a top notch rush defense but Michigan State is now a top-20 rushing offense with 205.4 rushing yards per game.

The Spartans are just 3-11 SU against Penn State since 1993 but they are 5-2 ATS at home within the series, covering those five contests by 11.3 points per game. Additionally, Michigan State has played well against the better teams, going 4-1 ATS in its last five games against teams with winning records. Penn State has not though, going just 1-4 ATS in the same scenario.

Minnesota

The Gophers posted their best defensive showing of the year by far last weekend but it still wasn't enough as they dropped a 21-16 decision to Iowa. That loss likely ended Minnesota's chances of posting a conference win as it hosts Wisconsin as 13.5-point dogs this weekend.

The battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe has been a lopsided one recently as the Gophers have lost the last three meetings. Minnesota trailed 41-3 midway through the third quarter in last year's meeting in losing 48-12. The Gophers were doubled up in yardage and trailed in time of possession by more than seven minutes. Minnesota has lost five straight ATS to Wisconsin and is just 9-16-2 ATS within the series since 1980.

Northwestern

Northwestern rode a strong defensive performance and solid running from Tyrell Sutton in overcoming three C.J. Bacher interceptions to down Indiana 31-28 last week. One more win would go a long way toward securing a bowl berth for the Wildcats but that win could be hard to get. They'll travel to Illinois as 13.5-poing dogs in the regular season finale this weekend.

The Wildcats played Illinois in the regular season finale last year and came away with a 27-16 win. Northwestern used a 110-yard, clock-chewing performance from Sutton to nearly double up the Illini in time of possession in that game and will a similar showing this year. The Wildcats are only 90th in the country in rushing offense but Sutton has run for 329 yards on 4.8 yards per carry in his three games since returning from injury.

Northwestern has dominated its series with Illinois recently, winning four consecutive outright and six of the last seven ATS. The Wildcats have fared especially well on the road within the series, going 11-3 ATS in Champaign including a 5-1 ATS in their last six trips. Northwestern has also enjoyed success as the underdog recently, going 7-3 ATS in the last 10 occurrences.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes had a good run atop the polls but that run, along with their chances of a national championship, came to an end with their 28-21 home loss to Illinois last week. The Big Ten crown is still up for grabs, though, and Ohio State will have no problem getting up for it when it plays rival Michigan as 4-point road favorites.

The Ohio State offense paved the way for a 42-39 win over the Wolverines in last year's matchup. Most of the damage done in that game came from players no longer on the roster so it will be up to quarterback Todd Boeckman and the rest of the offense to rebound from last week's poor showing. Running back Chris Wells and wideout Brian Robiskie are the only two returning players from last year's game that had an impact on offense - both scored touchdowns - and they'll needed to do the same this year.

Since taking over the program in 2001, head coach Jim Tressel has absolutely owned Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr. Tressel is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS since over Carr since coming to Columbus, including 2-1 SU and ATS marks in Ann Arbor. Additionally, the Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS over Michigan when following a loss and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss overall.

Penn State

The Nittany Lions are coming what essentially amounts to a bye week following their 31-0 blanking of Temple last week. Penn State held the hapless Owls to just four rushing yards but it will a much tougher time against Michigan State's 21st-ranked rush offense this week. The Lions will travel to East Lansing as 2.5-point favorites.

Penn State overcome four fumbles and a subpar showing from Anthony Morelli to pull out a 17-13 win in last year's meeting with the Spartans. The win marked Penn State's third straight win over Michigan State and its eleventh in 14 meetings since 1993. The Lions have struggled in East Lansing, though, going just 2-5 ATS. Their three SU losses have all come on the road and have come by an average of 24.3 points per game.

The road has not been kind to the Penn State recently as it is just 8-14 SU and 7-15 ATS in its last 22 road contests. The Nittany Lions have been favored in each of their four road games this year but are just 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS in those contests with the only ATS win coming in last week's game at Temple.

Purdue

The Purdue defense, which had made significant strides this season, reverted back to its tendencies of a year ago in a 48-31 loss to Michigan State in its home finale. The Boilermakers will look to correct those mistakes this week when they play Indiana as 2-point road favorites.

The Boilermakers overcame four Curtis Painter interceptions to down the Hoosiers 28-19 in last year's matchup. Purdue will need a much better performance from Painter in this year's meeting if it is to snap its current two-game slide. Indiana boasts a quick strike, potentially explosive offense that can take advantage of turnovers.

The in-state rivalry between Purdue and Indiana has been extremely one-sided. Purdue has won five straight in the series and nine of the last 10 meetings and has won by an average of 26.1 points per game. Additionally, the favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven games within the series. The Boilermakers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a small road favorite of three points or less and are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine games overall.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin beat Michigan in Madison for the second straight time when it took down the Wolverines and their depleted offense in a 37-21 win. The Badgers, who could be without starting quarterback Tyler Donovan, will look to carry that momentum over into this weekend's contest against Minnesota with the Paul Bunyan Axe on the line.

The last time these teams met in the Twin Cities resulted in a wild finish that resulted in a 38-34 Wisconsin victory. The Badgers scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes, including a block punt recovered in the end zone, to overcome a late 10-point deficit. That win gave Wisconsin back-to-back wins in the series and last year's win made it three straight.

The Badgers, who are 13.5-point favorites, have covered five straight contests within the series, covering by an average of 13.4 points per game. They've been double-digit favorites at Minnesota just twice since 1983 and have split those contests both SU and ATS. Five of the Gophers' seven conference losses have come by 13 or more points, including 14-, 23- and 27-point losses at home.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 12

Look Ahead and Let Down -- Week 12
VegasInsider.com 

There are just a few weeks left in the regular season and there is still plenty of emotion to dictate what will be taking place on the field right now. Especially over in Champaign, where Ron Zook’s Fighting Illini are on a high after dethroning then No. 1, Ohio State. Could Illinois be a trap play this week?

Looking ahead for Rocky Top…

Things are looking good for Tennessee right now. The Vols control their own destiny for the SEC East by just winning their final two regular season games. And judging by the 34-13 whipping Tennessee put on the Razorbacks last Saturday, it is certainly a possibility.

There is a problem though for Phil Fulmer’s program is they lie in a particularly nasty spot where bettors are concerned. They just beat up on a good team last week and have Kentucky to look forward to finish up the regular season schedule. That means Vanderbilt could be easily overlooked this weekend.

Now this isn’t the same lousy Commodores team that you expect to see year in and year out. Vandy has the third best scoring defense in the league right now, giving up just 21.5 PPG so far. And you have to take notice of the fact that line has moved on this game from the Vols being a 12-point home favorite to 11 ½ in almost little to no time.

Add in the fact that UT has a date with aforementioned Wildcats next week that will make or break its season where the conference is concerned. I’m not saying the Volunteers are going to lose this game, but you have to think that Vandy will cover the spread for the third time in its last five meetings in Knoxville.

Fear the Wildcats…

It looks like Ron Zook found a place that he can call home in Illinois…especially after beating the Buckeyes in Columbus last week, 28-21, as a 16-point road ‘dog. Juice Williams was a one-man wrecking crew against Ohio State’s defense, completely 12 of 22 passes for 140 yards and four touchdowns. Williams also rushed 16 times for 70 yards to seal the deal for the Illini.

You can bet there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears spend on the field in Ohio Stadium last week by the Illini. And that could make it tough for Zook’s squad to be as focused as they normally would be for an intrastate showdown with Northwestern.

Pat Fitzgerald is beginning to see improvement in his Wildcats. They were 4-8 in 2006 and are now sitting at 6-5 right now. It may sounds modest, but considering this program lost its head coach to a heart attack prior to the start of last season, it is a major achievement.

Illinois is listed as a 13 ½-point home favorite for this contest, but that line almost begs you to take the Wildcats here. Northwestern is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in its last four meetings with the Illini. Also, the Wildcats had no problem in shutting down Williams in 2006, holding him to just 54 yards rushing with 65 passing yards.

Making the Bears golden again…

It’s been rough going for the Golden Bears recently. They’ve lost four of their last five games after being ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. Now California will get an opportunity at some redemption this Saturday as a 7 ½-point road “chalk” against the Huskies.

The Bears are due to get a solid performance out of Nate Longshore, who played strong against Washington last year in a 31-24 overtime victory as 16 ½-point home favorites. He’ll have DeSean Jackson and Justin Forsett at his disposal as well.

Meanwhile, the Huskies are going to be without Jake Locker under center. Cal shouldn’t have a problem in covering in this game.

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