Big Ten Football Preview: Week 2

Sept. 10, 2009


(0-1, 0-0 MVC)

Illinois State at Illinois
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 6 p.m. CT • Urbana-Champaign, Ill. • Memorial Stadium (62,870)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Ari Wolfe, Tony McGee, Sarah Spain

Series: Illinois leads 2-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 6, 2003: Illinois 49, Illinois State 21

(0-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Illinois returns to Champaign 0-1 after a tough season-opening loss to rival Missouri.  Now in the confines of Memorial Stadium, the Fighting Illini will host in-state foe Illinois State for just the third time, with Illinois having taken the first two games in the series by a combined margin of 128-28.  UI is 81-33-5 all-time in home openers and has won its last 11, including last year's 47-21 win over another intrastate opponent in Eastern Illinois - the school that ousted Illinois State in last week's season opener.

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams compiled 206 yards of total offense last weekend against Missouri, which leaves him at 8,661 total yards for his career, just 219 yards shy of Kurt Kitner's school record.  Despite being held to only 27 yards on the ground last week, Williams - the Big Ten's top returning career rusher - has nearly 2,100 yards on foot.  Teammate tailback Daniel Dufrene is fourth among the conference's top returning backs with 957 career yards on his resume.  Look for the Illini to continue moving the football just as they did against the Tigers, with eight players recording a rush and 12 different players catching a pass.  In fact, the Illinois offense returned 100 percent of its 2,034 rushing yards from the 2008 season and 87 percent of its 3,232 passing yards, as well as three starters from the offensive line.  Illinois State will look to the sidelines for leadership in defending the Illini attack.  First-year head coach Brock Spack spent the last 12 seasons as defensive coordinator at Purdue.  The Redbirds allowed 217 yards rushing last week, including an average of 5.3 yards per carry.  Jermaine Malcolm and Doni Phelps each had 6.5 tackles in last week's loss, while Phelps was the only Redbird to record a sack.

Illinois State enters wounded on the offensive side of the ball as quarterback Drew Kiel will be out at least six weeks following surgery to repair a torn ligament on his right thumb earlier this week. After opening last week's game by completing his first 15 pass attempts en route to a 20-of-22 effort, Kiel suffered the injury to his throwing hand in the fourth quarter.  ISU, which hasn't started a freshman quarterback since the 1999 season, now looks to redshirt freshman Matt Brown, who was 5-of-8 for 26 yards last week. Illinois State's new spread offense resulted in completed passes to seven different wide receivers against Eastern Illinois. Tight end Casey Cline (69 yds) led all receivers with six catches, while wideouts Ben Graves (23 yds) and Eyad Salem (17 yds) both hauled in five passes each. The Redbirds were also limited to just 20 yards rushing - the team's lowest total since being held to minus six yards at Youngstown State in 2001.  Geno Blow was the Redbirds' top rusher with 37 yards on 13 carries.  As for Illinois, first-year starters Ian Thomas and Tavon Wilson both posted career-high tackles against Missouri with 13 for Thomas and seven for Wilson. Thomas' 13 tackles and seven solo tackles were both game highs. Safety Garrett Edwards also had a career-best seven stops against the Tigers.  The Illini recorded 10 tackles for loss and two sacks against the Tigers.


(0-1, 0-0 MAC)

Western Michigan at Indiana
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • Noon ET • Bloomington, Ind. • Memorial Stadium (52,692)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Matt Devlin, Anthony Herron, Larra Overton

Series: Indiana leads 4-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 8, 2007: Indiana 37, Western Michigan 27

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Coming off the heels of a close 19-13 win over Eastern Kentucky last week, Indiana looks to open 2-0 on the season by going 5-0 against Western Michigan.  The Hoosiers own three home wins against the Broncos and captured the last victory in the series in Kalamazoo in 2007 by a score of 37-27.  WMU made its fourth bowl appearance last season after notching nine wins, but the Broncos were taken out quickly by Michigan, 31-7, in the opener last week.

The Hoosiers were not as sharp on offensive as they had hoped, but there were certainly signs that the new "pistol" offense would still create options through the air. Junior quarterback Ben Chappell was 27-of-36 for a career-high 326 yards and one touchdown.  Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher combined for 222 yards, with Doss hauling in career highs with eight receptions for 125 yards, while Belcher matched his career best with six receptions and racked up a career-high 97 receiving yards.  The "pistol" offense was supposed to open up the running game for the Hoosiers, but they only amassed 73 yards on the ground against the Football Championship Subdivision ballclub.  The good news is that Western Michigan allowed the Wolverines to stomp for 242 rushing yards and put up all 31 points in the first half.  The Broncos' tackle leaders included first-team All-MAC honoree Austin Pritchard (11 stops), University of Miami transfer Doug Wiggins (9) and Deauntay Legrier (7).  

It wasn't until the 10:46 mark of the fourth quarter last Saturday that Western Michigan found the scoreboard.  In fact, the play exposed a young Michigan secondary as quarterback Tim Hiller found Juan Nunez for the 73-yard score.  The Bronco offense recorded 301 total yards, but only 38 came from the ground.  WMU fumbled twice and punted six times in the loss in Ann Arbor.  Hiller, All-MAC quarterback who has school single-season records in attempts (522), completions (339), yards (3,725) and touchdowns (36) and is one of only two quarterbacks to reach the 3,000-yard plateau twice in a career, was 22-of-38 for 259 yards last week with a touchdown and two interceptions.  Hiller's primary target, Nunez, caught seven balls for 151 yards last Saturday after turning in a sophomore season of 57 receptions for 701 yards.  Senior Brandon West, also a 2008 All-MAC selection, rushed for over 1,000 yards last season but accounted for just 41 yards on 13 carries against the Wolverines.  Defensively, Indiana allowed 378 total yards last week and EKU did most of its damage through the air, often times on big plays, totaling 278 passing yards.  Converted wide receiver-to-cornerback Ray Fisher sat out the first half, but returned to post five tackles and forced a fumble late in the game with the Colonels driving inside the Indiana 5.  Matt Mayberry posted five tackles on the night, two of which were for loss, including one sack.  Will Patterson and Nick Polk also registered five tackles apiece, while the Hoosier defense totaled four sacks for a combined loss of 45 yards on the night. IU also recorded seven tackles for loss in the win.


(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Iowa at Iowa State
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Ames, Iowa. • Jack Trice Stadium (55,000)
Fox Sports Net • Announcers: Joel Meyers, Dave Lapham, Jim Knox

Series: Iowa leads 37-19 • Last Meeting: Sept. 13, 2008: Iowa 17, Iowa State

(1-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Saturday marks the 57th game in the annual series between Iowa and Iowa State and the Hawkeyes boast an impressive 15-7 advantage in Ames, although ISU has won the last two meetings and four of the last five.  Last year's Cy-Hawk Trophy battle was a mess, with Iowa needing two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a rain-soaked Kinnick Stadium to top its in-state rival 17-15.  Neither team has scored a touchdown in the first half of the last two meetings. Iowa led 3-0 at half last season while Iowa State held a 12-0 advantage after 30 minutes of play when the teams last met in Ames in 2007.

In the midst of losing standout running back Jewel Hampton for the season last week, Iowa maintained its poise through the air as junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was 22-of-34 for 242 yards and a touchdown in the win over Northern Iowa. His 22 completions and 34 attempts were both career highs and his passing total move him past the 2,000-yard career passing mark.  Stanzi's primary target was senior tight end Tony Moeaki, who hauled in a career-high 10 receptions for 83 yards.  Sophomore wideout Marvin McNutt, a former quarterback who had previously only had one 11-yard reception as an occasional receiver, started his first game last week and tallied five catches for 48 yards.  Filling the void at running back was redshirt freshman Adam Robinson, who ended with a team-high 15 carries for 63 yards.  Last week Iowa State allowed 5.5 yards per carry and 210 rushing yards, which could help the young Hawkeye gain confidence in his new starting role.  Jesse Smith led the Cyclone defense with 15 tackles and a forced fumble, while Rashawn Parker had two of ISU's four sacks in the game in the 34-17 victory over North Dakota State.

With that win, Iowa State snapped a 10-game losing streak.  The ISU offense scored the first 14 and the last 10 points to seal the victory and outgained NDSU in total offense, 442-388.  Quarterback Austen Arnaud threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-28 passing.  Darius Reynolds snatched a team-high six receptions for 53 yards, while Marquis Hamilton racked up a team-best 97 yards and two scores on four catches.  Alexander Robinson churned out 83 yards on 16 carries, with 75 of those yards came in the first half.  Defensively for Iowa, Brett Greenwood and Pat Angerer led the Hawkeyes with 12 tackles each. The Black and Gold recorded a total of five TFLs, seven pass break-ups and four QB hurries.  Following last week's thrilling win against UNI, where Iowa blocked two field goals in the closing seconds of the game to preserve the win, special attention might be placed on special teams this week. Last season Iowa used an 81-yard punt return to take a 17-3 lead late in the game, while two years ago in Ames, Iowa State scored all 15 points on field goals, the last coming on the final play of the game.



(1-0, Independent)

Notre Dame at Michigan
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 3:30 p.m. ET • Ann Arbor, Mich. • Michigan Stadium (106,201)
ABC • Announcers: Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe

Series: Michigan leads 20-15-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 7, 2008: Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Regardless of past seasons, current records, or what critics believe the future holds for each team, when Michigan and Notre Dame take to the gridiron, it is special.  The Wolverines and Irish rank 1-2 in the NCAA in all-time victories, winning percentage, television appearances and all-time final composite AP poll rankings.  Saturday marks the 37th meeting between the rivals, with Michigan holding a 20-15-1 record overall and a slim 8-7-1 advantage in Ann Arbor.  And while several contests in this series have been down to the wire, the past two games have been nothing of the sort. The Irish routed the Wolverines, 35-17, last year at Notre Dame Stadium, while Michigan blanked Notre Dame, 38-0, two years ago in Ann Arbor.

Last Saturday we expected to see three quarterbacks in the Michigan rotation.  Instead, we saw four - Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson, Nick Sheridan and David Come.  Forcier, the third true freshman quarterback in Michigan history to start the season opener, tossed three touchdown passes to go along with 179 yards on 13-of-20 passing.  In the opening drive, he found receiver Junior Hemingway for a 28-yard TD - just one of Hemingway's two scores on the day coupled with his five receptions for 103 yards.  But when Forcier left the game and made way for Robinson, the new QB took his first snap under center 43 yards for a rushing touchdown en route to a team-high total of 74 rushing yards.  The Michigan offense stormed out to a 31-0 in the first half against Western Michigan and finished the victory with 439 total yards.  Notre Dame's 35-0 shutout of Nevada marked the first time since 2002 (76 games) that the Irish blanked an opponent.  The win was impressive for the ND defense considering Nevada averaged 37.6 points, 509 total yards and 278 rushing yards per game (school record) last season. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to 307 total yards and 153 yards rushing.  The Irish also forced three Nevada turnovers, including two in the red zone.

The Michigan defense was stout in the season opener, forcing three Western Michigan turnovers, including two interceptions and one fumble.  Donovan Warren matched his career high with seven tackles, while sophomore defensive tackle Mike Martin added three tackles and a sack.  Notre Dame enters the rivalry game with a potent offense that has not seen a lot of shake up since last year.  In fact, of the 4,616 total yards accumulated last year, only 17 yards of total offense have not returned. All 3,190 passing yards by quarterback Jimmy Clausen are back along with almost 99 percent of the rushing yards and over 89 percent of the receiving yards. Clausen started last week's game by throwing 184 yards and three scores on 10-of-11 passing.  He finished 15-of-18 for 315 yards and four TDs. Armando Allen led the team in rushing with 72 yards on 15 attempts, while Michael Floyd has a big day in the air with 189 receiving yards on four catches, three of which were for touchdowns.  Notre Dame ended the game with 510 total yards of offense, 203 more than Nevada.



(0-1, 0-0 MAC)

Central Michigan at Michigan State
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • Noon ET • East Lansing, Mich. • Spartan Stadium (75,005)
ESPN2 • Announcers: Pam Ward, Ray Bentley

Series: Michigan State leads 4-2 • Last Meeting: Sept. 11, 2004: Michigan State 24, Central Michigan 7

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Michigan State has teamed up with Central Michigan on six previous occasions, with all six games contests in East Lansing.  Meeting No. 7 will be no different as the Spartans look to improve their series record to 5-2 over the Chippewas in Spartan Stadium.  MSU, which has claimed the last four games in the series, is coming off a convincing 44-3 win over Montana State last week and is seeking its fourth 2-0 start in the last five seasons.

It has been offense by committee so far for the Spartans as a pair of quarterbacks will continue to battle for the starting role in week two, while seven tailbacks look to fill the void left by standout Javon Ringer.  Those seven backs, including Caulton Ray (71 yds, 12 att.), Larry Caper (34 yds, 7 att.) and Edwin Baker (27 yds, 8 att.), combined for 175 rushing yards last Saturday, while Keith Nichol added 18 rushing yards under center.  Nichol will continue to battle Kirk Cousins for the starting job at QB.  The pair combined to throw for 318 yards and five touchdowns on 19-of-35 passing.  The Spartans' offense outgained Montana State, 493-160, and the 29 first downs it recorded was 17 more than what the Bobcats produced.  The Central Michigan defense held Arizona to just one touchdown in last week's 19-6 loss, with the 19 points allowed marking the fewest in a CMU loss since a 17-14 loss at Toledo in 1998. Nick Bellore tied for game-high honors with 10 tackles, which was really no surprise to many. The linebacker's career average of 9.3 tackles per game ranks second among all active players in the Bowl Subdivision.

Despite having one of the top signal callers in the country in Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan struggled on the offensive side of the ball last week.  Arizona outgained the Chippewas 246-74 in rush yards and 448-182 overall.  LeFevour, who enters the weekend 15th in NCAA Bowl Subdivision history with 11,828 total career yards (9,575 passing, 2,253 rushing), was just 18-of-31 or 106 yards and one interception, and was sacked twice.  Still, among active Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks, LeFevour ranks first in completions, attempts and total offense, second in passing yards, and fourth in touchdown passes.  Typically with a solid passing quarterback comes an impressive wideout and the Chippewas have that in Bryan Anderson, who leads all active Bowl Subdivision players in career receptions (228) and receiving yards (2,879).  Yet Anderson hauled in only two balls for 15 yards last week.  Kito Poblah led the team with six receptions and 47 yards, while Antonio Brown picked up a team-high 31 yards on the ground.  Michigan State's defense easily handled the Montana State offense last week, allowing just 160 yards of total offense, including 62 on the ground.  Greg Jones, the Big Ten's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, was his usual dominant self as he recorded 14 total tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.  Marcus Hyde added six tackles in the win over the Bobcats.


(1-0, 0-0 MWC)

Air Force at Minnesota
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 6 p.m. CT • Minneapolis, Minn. • TCF Bank Stadium (50,720)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson

Series: First Meeting

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

The time has finally come.  It's time for Golden Gopher football on campus and outside.  Minnesota has waited a long time for this day, but it will finally get a chance to christen its new 50,000-seat TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday when the Gophers welcome Air Force.  The game will be the first collegiate football contest played on the Minnesota campus since 1981.  In addition to the new stadium, Saturday also marks the start to a new series.  Air Force and Minnesota will be meeting for the first time.  In the season openers, the Falcons had no trouble disposing of FCS team Nicholls State, 72-0, while the Gophers had to play overtime to dismiss Syracuse, 23-20.

As noted last week, the Gophers have more returning starters (18) than any team in the Big Ten.  Last Saturday, they relied on that experience to help survive their season opener on the road.  QB Adam Weber finished the game 19-of-42 passing for 248 yards, including a touchdown and an interception.  He found primary target Eric Decker nine times for 183 yards, while Duane Bennett was the Gophers' leading rusher, finishing with 78 yards on 16 carries and one score.  The Air Force defense allowed Nicholls State just 151 yards of total offense and forced seven punts.  The Falcons' defense was paced by senior linebacker John Falgout, who made seven stops, and Cecilio Carter's six tackles.  Three additional AFA defenders made five stops or more in the win.

Offensively, the Falcons literally ran all over Nicholls State.  The Academy accumulated 576 total yards, 474 of which were on the ground.  Backup quarterback Connor Dietz led the team with 83 rushing yards, followed by tailback Nathan Walker and his 73 yards on eight carries.  Jared Tew had nine carries for 57 yards, but notched three touchdowns, which ranked him tied for the third-most TDs in week one.  Whether it was by design or by need, Air Force neglected the Air Attack.  Tim Jefferson threw for only 102 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-7 passing. Both the Falcons' 72 points scored and 474 yards rushing were the most in the nation in games played last week.  After allowing 20 points and 190 first-half yards against Syracuse, the Gopher defense shut out the Orange and allowed just 67 yards in the second half.  Senior linebacker Lee Campbell recorded a career-high 13 tackles, including 11 solo stops, 1.5 tackles for loss, half a sack and a pass breakup, which earned him his first career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor.  Minnesota ranked 11th in the nation for created turnovers last year and already boasts a pair of takeaways to their 2009 resume.


(0-1, 0-0 MAC)

Eastern Michigan at Northwestern
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Evanston, Ill. • Ryan Field (47,130)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Matt Rosen, Mark Campbell, Rebecca Haarlow

Series: Northwestern leads 2-0 • Last Meeting: Oct. 19, 2007: Northwestern 26, Eastern Michigan 14

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

It didn't take much for Northwestern to cruise to its fifth straight season-opening win last week as the Wildcats jumped out to a commanding 30-0 lead in the second quarter before polishing off Towson, 47-14.  The 47 points were the most by a Wildcat team in a season opener in 65 years. Northwestern and Eastern Michigan are meeting for the third time in the series, which started in 2006. The Wildcats captured a 14-6 victory in Evanston in 2006 and then went indoors to Ford Field to capture a 26-14 win in 2007.

Offensively, Northwestern used a very balanced pass-rush attack against Towson.  The Wildcats totaled 221 yards on the ground and 264 yards in the air, while getting up early on Towson with a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.  Quarterback Mike Kafka was a solid 15-of-20 passing for 192 yards, while Andrew Brewer led a host of NU receivers with six catches and a career-best 145 yards and a touchdown.  On the ground, Stephen Simmons scampered 77 yards on 18 carries, followed by Arby Fields, who scored twice while running six times for 48 yards. Scott Concannon also contributed to the ground game with 32 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns as well. EMU's defense, which lost its top two tacklers from a year ago, was paced by senior defensive end Brandon Downs in the opener versus Army's triple-option offense.  In the 27-14 loss, Downs collected a team-high 10 tackles, which included 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.  Marcus English had five solo stops and eight total tackles on the day.

Eastern Michigan returns a majority of their offensive skill players from a year ago, led by senior quarterback Andy Schmitt.  Running the spread offense a year ago, Schmitt made national headlines when he completed an NCAA-record 58-of-80 passes for 516 yards and 5 TD's in a wild 56-52 win over Central Michigan. Against Temple, he completed 50-of-76 passes. This year, operating out of a pro-style offense, Schmitt was 18-of-31 for 183 yards, one TD and two interceptions against Army. Dwayne Priest (19 carries, 83 yards, 1 TD) led the Eagles' ground attack while top returning wideout Jacory Stone was EMU's top receiver (8 catches, 97 yards) against the Black Knights.  Defensively, Quentin Davie led Northwestern with nine tackles while Nate Williams added seven. The duo also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss each.


(1-0, 0-0 Pac-10)

Southern California at Ohio State
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 8 p.m. ET • Columbus, Ohio • Ohio Stadium (102,239)
ESPN • Announcers: Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters

Series: USC leads 12-9-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 13, 2008: USC 35, Ohio State 3

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

It's simple.  This Saturday in Columbus will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the non-conference season with all eyes on the Big Ten and Pac-10 powerhouses that have played in a combined 13 BCS bowl games since 2002.  In fact, ESPN's College GameDay will originate from a Buckeye game for the 24th time since 1996.  In one corner, the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have won at least 10 games in each of the last four years, played in the national championship game twice, and competed in two other BCS bowls. In the other corner, the USC Trojans, who have made seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances, including four straight Rose Bowls, and captured the 2004 national championship in the Orange Bowl.  Both teams will enter the contest 1-0, however, USC had little trouble getting by San Jose State last weekend, 56-3.  Ohio State, which welcomes the Trojans to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1990, needed a little extra to get by Navy, 31-27.

Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeye offense under center last Saturday with a smooth 14-of-21 passing day for 174 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for another score.  OSU used a balanced attack against Navy, throwing for 210 yards and running for 153.  Dan Herron has 72 rushing yards and one touchdown and led the teams with four receptions for 29 yards.  Kicker Aaron Pettrey added three field goals on the day, including a 52-yarder.  The three points that San Jose State scored came in the first quarter and after that, the USC defense would not allow another point.  In fact, they gave up just 121 yards on the day, including just nine yards on the ground.  The Trojans held their season-opening opponents to eight first downs and allowed only one third-down conversion on 16 tries.  Two-time All-American safety Taylor Mays anchors the Trojan defense and had six tackles last week, but linebacker Chris Galippo led the way with a team-high nine stops and a forced fumble.

Offensively, USC made several headlines last week as it gave the starting nod to true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, who then struggled to get the Trojan offense ignited, but then managed to post 56 points in the win.  Barkley was 15-of-19 passing for 233 yards and touchdown in his debut, but USC punted three times and fumbled twice in their first five possessions.  On the ground, Joe McKnight carried 14 times for 145 and touch touchdowns, while more than half of the Trojans' 620 yards of total offense came on the ground.  A total of 10 rushers combined for 342 yards.  Against Navy, safety Kurt Coleman turned in nine tackles, including six solo stops, and registered an interception as well.  Brian Rolle also had nine tackles, followed by Dexter Larimore (7), Chimdi Chekwa (5), Ross Homan (5), and Camero Heyward (5).  OSU allowed 342 yards to the Midshipmen, including 186 on the ground and 156 in the air.


(0-1, 0-0 Big East)

Syracuse at Penn State
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • Noon ET • University Park, Pa. • Beaver Stadium (107,282)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Craig Coshun, Glen Mason, Kenny Jackson

Series: Penn State leads 40-23-5 • Last Meeting: Oct. 13, 1990: Penn State 27, Syracuse 21

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

In 2008, Penn State and Syracuse renewed a long-standing rivalry with one another for the first time since 1990.  The game took place in the Carrier Dome and was far from close.  Penn State easily took home a 55-13 victory and then went on to share the Big Ten Championship, while Syracuse struggled to a 3-9 campaign.  Call it the battle of the new coach versus the old coach.  Rookie mentor Doug Marrone is still looking for his first win at Syracuse after the Orange nearly knocked off Minnesota last week at the Carrier Dome, falling 23-20 in overtime.  As for Joe Paterno, well, all he has done is post the most victories of any Division I college football coach ever.  This will be the 70th contest between the two teams with PSU holding a 41-23-5 advantage. 

Daryll Clark showed why he might be the best quarterback in the Big Ten as he threw for a career-high 353 yards against Akron last week on 29-of-40 passing.  In fact, 254 of those passing yards came in the first half - a Penn State record - and coupled with his three touchdowns and a interception, Clark was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.  The Nittany Lions knew they needed to replace wideouts Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood, who teamed up for 1,900 yards and 17 TDs last year.  What they probably didn't know is how fast those replacements would show up.  If the first game is an indication, look for Graham Zug, Chaz Powell and Derek Moye to be Penn State's new go-to receivers.  The trio teamed up to combine for 18 catches and 265 yards with a touchdown apiece.  Last week Syracuse allowed Minnesota 360 total yards, including 248 in the air and 112 on the ground.  Mike Holmes led the Orange with eight tackles and an interception, followed by Ryan Gillum and Derrell Smith with six stops each.

Greg Paulus has officially traded his Duke basketball shoes for his Syracuse football cleats and went 19-of-31 passing for 167 yards and a touchdown in his debut last week.  Paulus, who was sacked three times, found Mike Williams for team highs in receptions (7) and yardage (94).  Delone Carter netted 88 yards on 23 carries to lead the Orange on the ground.  Syracuse was just 1-of-12 on third-down conversions and compiled only 257 total yards of offense, including 90 on the ground.  In contrast, Penn State allowed just 28 yards on the ground and 186 yards total, and did not allow a first down until the third quarter.  Nathan Stuper had 10 total tackles, 8 of them solo, while Sean Lee and Ollie Ogbu recorded six and four tackles, respectively.


(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Purdue at Oregon
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 10:15 p.m. ET • Eugene, Ore. • Autzen Stadium (54,000)
Fox Sports Net • Announcers: Barry Thompkins, Petros Papadakis, Michael Eaves

Series: Tied at 1-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 13, 2008: Oregon 32, Purdue 26 (2OT)

(0-1, 0-0 Pac-10)

Danny Hope opened his tenure at Purdue in style with an impressive 52-31 victory over Toledo. Purdue has opened a season against Toledo four times in school history and has scored over 50 points in three of those contests.  Now the Boilermakers hit the road to Eugene, Ore., to face an Oregon ballclub that defeated the Boilermakers in double overtime last year, 32-26. The Ducks' LaGarrett Blount rushed for 131 of the team's 306 rushing yards, but there will not be a repeat performance by the star running back this year.  Following last week's loss at Boise State, Blount was involved in a post-game skirmish and has been suspended from the team for the rest of the season.

There is still a chance, however, that another impressive rushing performance will be turned in when these two teams meet on Saturday.  If last week was any indication of what this week will be like, look for Purdue's Ralph Bolden to light up the stat sheet once again.  Bolden's 234 yards on 21 carries marked the third-best outing by a Boiler rusher in school history and was the top ground effort by a FBS player in the opening week of college football.  Quarterback Joey Elliott turned in career highs in all of his passing statistics, completing 17-of-28 for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Keith Smith hauled in eight passes for a team-high 117 yards and a score against Toledo.  The Boilermakers posted 535 total yards on just 67 plays, which averaged to an impressive 8.0 yards per down.  The Oregon defense held Boise State to 361 total yards, including 164 on the ground and 197 in the air.  The Ducks recovered three of four BSU fumbles and notched an interception as well.  Five defenders totaled nine tackles or more last week, led by T.J. Ward (11) and Casey Matthews (10).  Kenny Rowe posted two sacks and six stops on the night. 

Oregon's offense struggled mightily in its 19-8 loss to Boise State.  The Ducks mustered just six first downs, 31 rushing yards, 121 passing yards, 152 total yards, was 1-of-10 on third downs, and controlled the ball for only 17:28 of the 60 minutes of play. Jeremiah Masoli was 14-of-27 on the night with one interception, while Jeff Maehl caught five passes for 45 yards.  Will Oregon find success passing the pigskin on Saturday?  Purdue enters the ballgame having given up 493 total yards to Toledo with all but 70 yards coming through the air.  Jason Werner had 11 solo tackles and 13 total stops to lead the Boilermakers, while Brandon King finished with a career-best 10 tackles, including eight solo hits.


(1-0, 0-0 WAC)

Fresno State at Wisconsin
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Madison, Wis. • Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
ESPN • Announcers: Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman

Series: Wisconsin leads 2-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 13, 2008: Wisconsin 13, Fresno State 10

(1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Wisconsin returns to Camp Randall Stadium Saturday looking for its second straight win of the 2009 campaign after disposing of Northern Illinois last week, 28-20, to capture its 12th consecutive season opener.  Enter another worthy opponent in Fresno State - a team the Badgers barley beat last year by a score of 13-10. Wisconsin has won 15 straight non-conference home games, dating back to 2003. Only two of those games, including last year's battle with the Bulldogs, have been decided by less than 10 points.

Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien decided to go up top on the first play of the 2009 season last week.  His 80-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Anderson marked the longest first play in a season opener in Badger history.  The touchdown bomb helped the Badgers throw for 281 yards against the Huskies, a rare feat for a team that passed for more than 260 yards once last year (329 against Marshall).  UW outgained Northern Illinois 433-274 in total offense and averaged 6.9 yards per down.  Of the 38 carries for 152 yards, Zach Brown (14 att., 51 yds) and John Clay (15 att., 43 yds) combined for the majority of the ground attack.  Tolzien was 15-of-20 on the day for 257 yards, while Anderson finished with three catches and 100 yards, followed by Garrett Graham with a team-high six receptions for 82 yards.  Fresno State's Nico Herron had five tackles and made his first career interception, which he promptly returned 94 yards for a touchdown, in the Bulldogs' 51-0 shutout over UC Davis and earned WAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.  Fresno State held UC-Davis to just 43 yards rushing and 231 yards of total offense. Lorne Bell finished with a team-high seven tackles, followed by Ben Jacobs and his six stops.

In the Bulldogs' win, Ryan Matthews recorded 106 rushing yards on 11 attempts, which included a 60-yard scamper for a touchdown.  Robbie Rouse also turned in 75 yards for his 10 carries in the game.  Fresno State had 310 yards on the ground and notched 201 yards in the air for 511 yards of total offense.  Quarterback Ryan Colburn didn't do a whole lot of throwing, but was 5-of-9 for 161 yards and one touchdown.  Seyi Ajirotutu caught three passes for 57 yards, while Marlon Moore hauled in his only catch for a 92-yard TD.  The UW defense allowed Northern Illinois 274 yards of total offense, including just 100 on the ground.  Chris Maragos led the way with nine total tackles, including a sack and two for a loss.