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Wednesday, July 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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College football: Big Ten has big day, with one exception: Michigan

The Indiana Hoosiers celebrate their first win over a ranked team since 2006, going into Columbia and beating No. 18 Missouri of the SEC. (Associated Press)
The Indiana Hoosiers celebrate their first win over a ranked team since 2006, going into Columbia and beating No. 18 Missouri of the SEC. (Associated Press)
By Chris Dufresne Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – What a comeback for old-time Big Ten football (except for Michigan).

The proud, venerable league of Dick Butkus and Archie Griffin earned back some respect Saturday with an exceptional showing (except for Michigan).

The future of Jim Delany’s scoffed-at conference looks significantly brighter (except for Michigan).

Indiana, a week after losing to Bowling Green, recorded one of this year’s stunners with a 31-27 win at No. 18 Missouri.

It wasn’t just Indiana’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2006. It was a win over the defending Southeastern Conference East Division champion, on the SEC Network.

The SEC Network reportedly tried to pre-empt the end of the game with a rebroadcast of “Heidi.”

Indiana?

You could fit the school’s storied football history on the head of a pledge pin.

Football in Bloomington is usually the space filler until basketball season.

Indiana’s last victory against a ranked team came in 2006 against No. 15 Iowa. The Hoosiers haven’t been to a Rose Bowl since a 14-3 loss to USC in 1968.

The Big Ten got off to a brutal start, but it turns out the season wasn’t over before the last day of summer.

Yes, a lot of Saturday’s games were against inferior competition. Michigan State trounced Eastern Michigan, 73-14. The Spartans outgained the Eagles in the first half, 320 yards to one.

Wisconsin set a modern-day Big Ten rushing record with 644 yards in a 68-17 walkover against Bowling Green. The Big Ten also got wins from Maryland (over Syracuse), Northwestern (Western Illinois) and Purdue (Southern Illinois).

Iowa, though, scored an impressive 24-20 win at Pittsburgh. Rutgers, Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State also won. Ohio State had a week off.

Michigan’s agony, though, continues.

One of the Big Ten’s flagship programs was losing by 16 points, at home, to Utah, when weather suspended play in the fourth quarter.

The game eventually resumed but, thankfully, was available only on Internet channel ESPN3.

The teams returned to a football ghost town. The “Big House” was an empty house, with more Utah fans in attendance at the end.

Utah held on for the 26-10 win. It was a key victory for a program trying to prove it belongs in the Pac-12.

Michigan needs to re-grip and regroup. It has already endured a shutout loss to Notre Dame. Safe to say Saturday’s weather delay did not suspend the ongoing criticism of coach Brady Hoke.

Good day, mate

Hawaii isn’t very good in football but it does have a good story in senior Scott Harding. The 28-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, entered Saturday’s home game against Colorado averaging 40.7 yards on 25 punts.

But wait, there’s more. Harding returns punts for Hawaii and also plays a little wide receiver. Last week, in a win over Northern Iowa, Harding punted 11 times, returned seven punts and caught a pass for 52 yards.

Hawaii dropped Saturday’s game to Colorado, 21-12, but Harding had another big day. He averaged 46.1 yards on nine punts, returned three punts for 25 yards and caught one pass for 16 yards.

Harding came to Hawaii after playing six years in the Australian Football League.

In a Q&A interview posted on Hawaii’s website, Harding said American football doesn’t hurt as much because there is more padding.

He said collisions are less violent in Aussie rules football, “but when you do get hit, it hurts a lot more.”

He was asked to compare fans in the two countries.

“American football fans are a lot more timid,” he said.

Coach ‘O’ says ‘No’

Ed Orgeron hasn’t always made the best decisions. He may have overreacted last year when USC did not name him head coach after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin early in the season. Orgeron, who went 6-2 as USC’s interim coach, thought he deserved the permanent job and walked away, turning down several offers to return to USC as a highly-paid assistant.

This week, though, Orgeron made a brilliant decision in turning down a reported offer to take over at Nicholls State in Louisiana.

Nicholls State fell to 0-4 on Saturday after a 77-3 loss at North Texas. It was 70-3 after three quarters.

Orgeron, a Louisiana native, reportedly promised his wife he would sit out this season.

Wrong direction

It probably seemed like a good idea when North Carolina agreed to a nonconference series against East Carolina. The question after Saturday, though, is whether North Carolina should try to buy itself out of the 2018 game.

East Carolina won last year’s game, 55-31, in Chapel Hill. Saturday’s game in Greenville was even worse, as East Carolina shelled North Carolina, 70-41.

It was a big win for the American Athletic Conference over the ACC, as Pirates quarterback Shane Carden threw for 438 yards and four touchdowns. East Carolina’s only loss is a 10-point defeat at South Carolina. The Pirates appear to be one of the stronger “Group of Five” conference teams and could be in the mix for a major bowl berth.

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