Big Ten suffers a couple of black eyes
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.
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.
Name the only major-college football team to play three top-15 teams in September.
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.
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.