Speaking of the Vikings, former Commodore Hunter Hillenmeyer was taken to the woodshed by the Minnesota offense last Sunday. Minnesota's stategy was to run between the tackles with dives, blasts, inside traps, and counters. Hunter, subbing for the injured Brian Urlacher, couldn't handle the task; Minnesota had several long gainers between the tackles. Hillenmeyer did pick up one fumble and return it for several yards before handing the ball to another defender, but he was exploited for most of the afternoon.
In college football last week, two former I-AA rival coaches from separate parts of the country celebrated wins over SEC schools. Navy (coached by Paul Johnson) beat Vandy, while Wyoming (coached by Joe Glenn) beat Ole Miss. Glenn and Johnson guided Montana and Georgia Southern to multiple I-AA title games. Glenn is the odds-on favorite to return as head coach of Colorado when Gary Barnett decides to go into organic bison farming in Boulder County.
Game of the week this Saturday:
It's not LSU-Georgia or Auburn-Tennessee; it's Purdue-Notre Dame. This game hasn't been this important since the 1967, 1968 and 1969 seasons. Purdue upset the Irish all three years. Notre Dame was top-ranked in 1967, when Purdue's top back Leroy Keyes pounded the Irish in a 28-21 national TV shocker. In 1968, both teams were in the Top Five when Purdue once again upset the Irish on national TV, 37-22, and vaulted to No. 1 in the polls. The 1969 game was a battle of two of the the country's top quarterbacks; Purdue, led by Gary Phipps, beat Joe Theismann and Notre Dame, 28-14.
It wasn't until legendary Purdue coach Jack Mollenkopf retired that the Irish finally got their revenge in 1970, beating Purdue 48-0.
Last Week's Vanderbilt-Navy Game:
I didn't get to hear or read much about it, but only 23 passes strikes me as odd. I thought Vandy needed to throw the ball 40 to 50 times to outscore Navy, as the Midshipmen have not proven they can consistently stop a good passing team. Notre Dame and Rutgers are the only teams left on Navy's schedule who can pass the ball well enough to dominate the Mids.
Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State:
On paper, the Commodores are a little better that State in the interior lines, a little weaker in the secondary, and much stronger at quarterback. Elsewhere, the differential is a push. Vandy should win by 7 to 10 points, but I would lay off the game. The outlaw line on this game was VU by 14 1/2. The wise guys played the Bulldogs plus the points so heavily, that the official opening line dropped an unheard-of 5 points! It's easy to bet against a double-digit favorite who is 0-3 and hasn't won an SEC game by 2 touchdowns since Gerry Dinardo coached the Commodores to a 24-6 win over Kentucky in 1994. The Big Boys probably knew what they were doing at VU -14 1/2, but at VU -10 1/2, it becomes too iffy. Enjoy the game, and root for a repeat of the 1971 game I wrote about earlier this week. But, don't feel confident in Vandy winning by 11 or more.
This week's picks:
Okay, it's time to avoid a swollen head here. I went 10-2 last week to bring my totals for the year to 19-5 against the spread. Nobody can win at this rate consistently (at least legally). I know I am due for a big letdown, so I am going to play a little defensively here this week and try to limit the liability.
Virginia Tech -2 1/2 vs. West Virginia: The Mountaineers are not in the class of Miami, USC, and Oklahoma, even though they have an odds-on shot at a 10-1 season. This is the one possible loss on WVU's schedule. Virginia Tech lost at home last week, and The Hokies rarely lose two straight weeks in Blacksburg. VPI should cover with ease.
Three-Team, 10-point Teaser Parlay: Miami -4 vs. Georgia Tech; Nebraska -2 1/2 vs. Kansas; and Ohio State - 1 1/2 vs. Northwestern. I feel good about these three teams covering against weaker opponents here. Buying the 10 points makes all three of these games look like money in the bank (yeah, right).
Four-Team, 13-point Teaser Parlay: You get 3 extra points here, but surrender 5-6 odds to Vegas. Wisconsin -1/2 vs. Illinois; Arizona State +16 vs. Oregon; Colorado +20 1/2 vs. Missouri; and Virginia Tech +10 1/2 vs. West Virginia. I feel safe that the Badgers' tough defense will lead them to a 7-point win or better. Oregon is still trying to find itself, while the Sun Devils look good at +16. Colorado has a 50/50 chance of winning outright, while you already know how I feel about Virginia Tech.
Have fun, and expect to eat too much while sitting on the couch all day.