Big Ten suf­fers a cou­ple of black eyes

Los Angeles Times - - College Football - Mike His­er­man mike.his­er­man@latimes.com

Holy Toledo! It’s about time an un­der­dog jumped up and bit a Big Ten Con­fer­ence bully, mak­ing it pay more than just the cost of a large ap­pear­ance guar­an­tee for sched­ul­ing a non­con­fer­ence patsy.

Pur­due was a 12-point fa­vorite go­ing into Satur­day’s game against the Rock­ets in West Lafayette, Ind. — not be­cause the Boil­er­mak­ers were so good, but mostly be­cause Toledo had the worst-rated of­fense among the nation’s 120 ma­jor-col­lege teams.

But Toledo ac­cu­mu­lated 378 yards in a 31-20 vic­tory, hand­ing the Big Ten the first of two losses on what should have been, and mostly was, a day of mis­matches. In the other, North­ern Illi­nois up­set Min­nesota, 34-23.

Toledo joined Texas Chris­tian, Navy and Brigham Young as the only non-Bowl Cham­pi­onship Se­ries schools to de­feat a BCS team in five con­sec­u­tive sea­sons. Now, back to Big Ten bash­ing. Is this any way for the most sto­ried of big-time col­lege con­fer­ences to act, sched­ul­ing teams such as East­ern Michi­gan, Austin Peay, Bowl­ing Green, Akron, Ball State, North­ern Colorado and yes, we’re still count­ing North­ern Illi­nois, on one week­end?

In its wins Satur­day, the Big Ten’s av­er­age mar­gin of vic­tory was 48-14. Yawn.

It’s pretty sad when the likes of Toledo, Cen­tral Michi­gan, Tem­ple and North­ern Illi­nois of­fer the best com­pe­ti­tion. Times col­league Chris Dufresne opined in an on­line let­ter-an­swer­ing ses­sion last week that Illi­nois would have one of the Big Ten’s tougher days, and he was right.

The Illini didn’t play.

Peay back

Austin Peay Coach Rick Christophel said play­ing a na­tion­ally ranked team in front of 77,224 fans at Wis­con­sin was a new ex­pe­ri­ence for many play­ers on his team. It wasn’t the only one. “You laugh about things like this,” the coach added, “but I’ve got 10 or 12 guys who have never been on an air­plane be­fore.” Austin Peay run­ning back Ter­rence Holt said coaches used a sound sys­tem to pipe in loud mu­sic dur­ing prac­tice last week to give the team a feel for how noisy Camp Randall Sta­dium would be.

What they needed to bring in was the NFL’s Ten­nessee Ti­tans. “Those guys out there were big­ger, stronger and prob­a­bly faster,” Holt said of the Bad­gers af­ter a 70-3 loss.

Trivia ques­tion

Name the only ma­jor-col­lege foot­ball team to play three top-15 teams in Septem­ber.

Ur­ban re­newal

Florida’s 48-14 win over Ken­tucky marked Ur­ban Meyer’s 100th as a head coach. He did it in 118 games, mak­ing him the six­th­fastest to reach the mile­stone.

Back for sec­onds

Mis­sis­sippi de­feated Fresno State, 55-38, in what was only the sec­ond foot­ball game the Rebels have played against a Cal­i­for­nia team.

The other: Long Beach State, which no longer has a foot­ball pro­gram, in 1971.

Trivia an­swer

San Jose State. The Spar­tans, from the cash­strapped Cal­i­for­nia state uni­ver­sity sys­tem, opened with a 48-3 loss to No. 1Alabama, lost to No. 11Wis­con­sin, 27-14, the next week, and were routed, 56-3, by No. 13 Utah on Satur­day.

The team picked up nearly $2 mil­lion in guar­an­tees for the trips to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Madi­son, Wis., but the visit to Salt Lake City was on the back half of a home­and-home se­ries with Utah.

Still to come: games in the next three weeks against un­beaten Ne­vada, which is on the cusp of the As­so­ci­ated Press top 25, and No. 3 Boise State.

NO PATSY:

John Ter­hune

James Green, left, helped Toledo get past Josh John­son and Pur­due, one of two up­set losses for Big Ten teams.

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