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Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

It’s a bad week to be underdogs

Seven games involving ranked teams have point spreads of 30 points or higher

August 31, 2000

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It's rout week.

The college football season swings into high gear this weekend, and it looks like there are plenty of creampuffs to go around for the Top 25 teams.

Consider:

Seven of the 19 games involving teams in the AP poll have pointspreads of 30 points or higher, topped by No. 1 Nebraska giving 50 points to San Jose State.

Three games don't even have point spreads because the Vegas bookies ignore I-A teams going against lower-division I-AA teams. No. 5 Miami plays McNeese State, No. 10 Georgia plays Georgia Southern and No. 17 Clemson plays The Citadel.

But if you're looking for a winner, we'll let the dogs out: History says you can't miss with the Spartans plus 50.

Four times in the 1990s, the Cornhuskers were favored by 50 or more at home, and four times they failed to cover. On one occasion, they were favored by 491/2 and didn't cover.

The rundown:

1994: Nebraska 70, Pacific 21 (Huskers favored by 501/2)

1995: Nebraska 49, Pacific 7 (Huskers favored by 53)

1996: Nebraska 51, Missouri 7 (Huskers favored by 50)

1997: Nebraska 59, Akron 14 (Huskers favored by 58)

And, Nebraska 31, Oregon 7 in 1990 (Huskers favored by 491/2).

"It's the 10-star play of the year," joked Ron Sataloff, president/editor of World Features Syndicate, which sets pointspreads on sporting events.

As Frank Solich starts his third year as Nebraska's coach, the Huskers are hoping to duplicate Florida State's wire-to-wire run to the national title in '99.

Eric Crouch returns from a 12-1 season in which he threw for 1,269 yards and ran for 889 yards. Nine starters are back on offense, and the defense is led by linebacker Carlos Polk.

San Jose State went 3-7 the SMU game was canceled because of a power failure at the stadium in '99 under coach Dave Baldwin. The Spartans' claim to fame was a 44-39 win over Stanford, the Pac-10 champions.

The Spartans' best player is running back/return man Deonce Whitaker, who is just 5-foot-6 and 185 pounds. He averaged 9.2 yards every time he touched the ball last season.

The Huskers expect a blowout.

"I don't think we look at it as they turn into blowouts," Huskers guard Russ Hochstein said. "We look at it as we want to blow them out. If it turns into a blowout, that's fine with me."

The picks:

San Jose State (plus 50)

at No. 1 Nebraska

5-6 RB Deonce Whitaker vs. Blackshirts? Ouch. ... NEBRASKA, 52-7.

No. 3 Alabama (minus 6)

at UCLA

Bruins lying in wait for 'Bama's first visit to Rose Bowl since '46. ... UCLA, 28-24.

Western Michigan (plus 321/2) at No. 4 Wisconsin (today)

Badgers open post-Dayne era with a runaway. ... WISCONSIN, 41-7.

McNeese State (no line)

at No. 5 Miami (today)

Canes QB Ken Dorsey gets his season off to a flying start. ... MIAMI, 49-0.

Bowling Green (plus 31)

at No. 6 Michigan

Wolverines can live without injured QB Drew Henson for now. ... MICHIGAN, 38-10.

Louisiana Tech (plus 271/2)

at No. 8 Kansas State

Wildcats can live without injured RB David Allen for now. ... KANSAS STATE, 42-13.

Ball State (plus 45)

at No. 9 Florida

Gators chomp on first of two 0-11 teams on their schedule. ... FLORIDA, 55-6.

Georgia Southern (no line)

at No. 10 Georgia

I-AA champs step up in class ... and get hammered. ... GEORGIA, 41-13.

Akron (plus 31)

at No. 11 Virginia Tech

Michael Vick's Heisman run begins on a dry field ... VIRGINIA TECH, 45-7.

No. 22 Southern Mississippi (plus 111/2) at No. 13 Tennessee

May not be best of times for Vols. ... SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI, 28-27.

Idaho (plus 221/2)

at No. 14 Washington

Huskies have 28-game unbeaten streak vs. Vandals. ... WASHINGTON, 41-14.

Central Michigan (plus 38)

at No. 15 Purdue

With so much Vick hype, let's not forget about Drew Brees. ... PURDUE, 42-14.

Fresno State (plus 181/2 )

at No. 16 Ohio State

Buckeyes begin healing process of last year's 6-6 season. ... OHIO STATE, 45-20.

The Citadel (no line)

at No. 17 Clemson

Tigers are 35-0 at home vs. Southern Conference. ... CLEMSON, 41-6.

Tulane (plus 20)

at No. 18 Mississippi

Can't wait to watch running back Deuce McAllister. ... MISSISSIPPI, 33-10.

UTEP (plus 26)

at No. 19 Oklahoma

Sooners have a strong defense to go with their offense. Quarterback Josh Heupel was the Big 12 newcomer of the year in 1999. ... OKLAHOMA, 42-14.

Middle Tennessee (plus 34) at No. 21 Illinois

Illini favored by five TDs? Amazing. ... ILLINOIS, 41-13.

No. 23 Colorado (minus 41/2) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)

Buffaloes hope to erase memory of last year's 27-point loss to the Rams at Denver. ... COLORADO, 31-17.

No. 25 Texas A&M (plus 21/2) at Notre Dame

Do or die season for Irish head coach Bob Davie? He's coming off a 5-7 seasons and is 21-16 in three seasons. ... NOTRE DAME, 31-27.

Last week: 3-0 (straight); 2-1 (vs. points).

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