Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Free-for-All

Gophers vs Fightin' Illini tomorrow at 11am, but you wouldn't know it from looking around at Illini blogs or those old-fashioned newspapers. I forget that while the University of Illinois is the largest school in the state, it's not the most popular in the city of Chicago. Looking through the sports sections at the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times looking for perhaps a preview, or even a mention, of the Gopher/Illini tilt I am reminded that 1) Chicago is a basketball city (plenty of links about the Bulls game, and even Illinois basketball which just started practicing) 2) the only college football team they really care about is in Indiana- yep, Chicago has Purdue fever!! Just kidding, it's a Notre Dame town. The Illini? Not so much apparently. But even reading the Illini blogs like The Quad or Paint the Town Orange it's hard to tell there's a football game in Champaign this weekend.

* On the other hand, YOUR local dailies have plenty to say about the Gophers game. The Strib has a feature on Juice Williams, a story about how happy Lee Campbell is to be playing middle linebacker again, and Pat Reusse actually had something nice to say about the Gophers defense. No really, he does.

* Both the Strib and Pioneer Press have stories on Eric Decker, the NCAA leader in receiving yards, being promoted for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation's best receiver. Sounds like Decker is pretty interested in this. Also, one key to the game tomorrow Jer and I somehow neglected to mention is the presence of Illinois junior cornerback Vontae Davis. Don't know who he is? You will after Saturday. NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has him ranked as the top junior corner in the country, and he could very well be a first round pick if he declares for the draft. Let's just say he's going to pose a big test for Decker.

* The Pioneer Press also has a good story about former JUCO teammates Traye Simmons and Illini tailback Daniel Dufrene.

* Picking the Big 10 Games (this was if gambling is legal. Of course it isn't so, um, it's just for fun)
Iowa at Indiana (+5.5)
Whatever you're doing Saturday, be glad you don't have to watch this one. Am I underrating Iowa? Probably, but when the two worst teams in the Big 10 get together, I'll take the home team AND the points.

Toledo (+16.5) at Michigan
Michigan's offense is bad: Toldeo's is worse, yet I have trouble taking the Wolverines while giving almost 17 points.

Purdue at Ohio State (-19)
19 is a big number, but Ohio State is gaining steam with Pryor and a healthy Beanie Wells while Purdue is going nowhere fast.

Michigan State (-1.5) at Northwestern
Is Northwestern overrated? I think so, and we'll see why Saturday. Javon Ringer could go for 200+.

Penn State (-6) at Bucky Badger
The Badgers are involved in the Game of the Week for the second straight week, and for the second straight week I'm picking against them. Giving a touchdown to Penn State, even at Camp Randall, seems like a reasonable number for the Spread HD and Daryll Clark to cover.

Minnesota (+13) at Illinois
Juice, Benn, Vontae Davis, "Andy" Dufrene and company are a tall task for your Golden Gophers to overcome, and while I don't see a big Ski-U-Mah upset, I do think they keep it interesting.

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