Big Ten Market Letter #2

Since the Feds have taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you can expect sheer unmitigated chaos in the markets Monday morning. I can't help you with real investment advice, but I can help you find some of the buys, sells, and holds in Big Ten football after two weeks.

Right now I'm making Penn State's Spread HD offense a strong buy. Last season PSU fans would've traded Jay Paterno for some pocket lint and half a Twix bar, but the early returns on his new boy-wonder offense are quite promising indeed. Sure, it helps that the defense is playing out of its heads and didn't miss two suspended starters on the defensive line one bit against Oregon State (yes, yes, I know, I was wrong; it's not like it's the first time), but the offense has been nothing short of brilliant so far. With their next two games against Syracuse and Temple, look for big gaudy offensive numbers and lots of hype heading into the September 27 game with Illinois. And, the way the Illini defense has played so far, they might well have gaudy numbers after that game, too. It might take until October 11th's Wisconsin game to know if the Spread HD is just a dog-and-pony show, but for now, it looks like the real deal. You want in on the ground floor of this one.

Meanwhile, it's a good time to establish a short position on Northwestern, who I am downgrading to sell. The Wildcats came out flat in the opener against Syracuse (Syracuse!) and the offense struggled against Duke yesterday. That's a worrisome sign to me. The offense was supposed to be clicking better, with lots of experience at the "skill" positions, but their motto at the moment seems to be "start slow, and taper off." The Cats should be able to get to 3-0 with Southern Illinois coming to Evanston this weekend, but then comes Ohio, and I think we saw yesterday they're not going to lay down for anyone.

Meanwhile, the rest of the college football world is piling on Ohio State for their flabby performance against those same Ohio Bobcats yesterday, but I'm saying hold the Buckeyes for now. I'm not saying I agree with the excuses explanations coming from the Bucknuts (no Beanie Wells, Tressel doesn't want to give USC too much film to work with, the Buckeyes have always had some trouble with the spread) but I do think they're at least plausible.

I'm putting you on notice, though, Angry Caps Lock Guy: If the Buckeyes don't beat USC and look good doing it, then not only is there no hope for a return to the title game, the Big Ten race may not be the foregone conclusion you thought it was.

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