Teams Not Looking Past Final Pre-Conference Games

Sept. 14, 2006

Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 Big East) at Illinois (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Champaign, Ill. -Memorial Stadium
Series: Illinois leads 9-1; Last Meeting: 1982 -Illinois 47, Syracuse 10

Derrick Roberson fell on a blocked punt for a touchdown and Devin McCourty scored on a 38-yard interception return in the opening minutes to lead Rutgers to a 33-0 rout of Illinois.

Unlike a year ago when the Scarlet Knights opened a 20-point third-quarter lead against Illinois in the season opener and then lost in overtime, Rutgers built a 30-0 halftime advantage and never looked back. The Illini aren't looking back either eager to bounce back against Syracuse on Saturday.

After gaining 345 rushing yards last week against Eastern Illinois, Illinois finished with 66 rushing yards and 126 total yards. Senior quarterback Tim Brasic finished 5-for-11 for 46 yards and two interceptions before being pulled for true freshman Isiah "Juice" Williams.

The Illini have a 9-1 series lead over the Orangemen with a 6-1 mark in Champaign. Syracuse is coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Big Ten foe Iowa 13-20. On fourth down, from the one-yard line, running back Paul Chiara was stopped short by a determined Hawkeye defensive line to end the game.

Cincinnati (1-1, 0-0 Big East) at No. 1 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Plus
Columbus, Ohio - Ohio Stadium
Series: Ohio State leads 12-2-0; Last meeting: 2004- Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 6

Top-ranked Ohio State, fresh off a convincing 24-7 road win over Texas, returns home this week to host the University of Cincinnati. Jim Tressel's Buckeye's are now 2-0 on the year and have won nine consecutive starts, including six win over ranked teams. Last week's win in Austin ended the Longhorn's 21-game winning streak and leaves the Buckeyes with the nation's second longest winning streak.

Troy Smith and the Ohio State Buckeyes showed the defending champions who's No. 1 solidifying their place in the polls with a 17-point victory over the defending national champion Longhorns. Smith completed 17 of 26 passes for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a veteran Texas defense. The Heisman hopeful leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency and passing yardage and is second in total offense after two games.

Antonio Pittman led the Buckeyes in rushing for the second consecutive week, finishing with 74 yards on 16 carries and Anthony Gonzalez recorded a career-best performance hauling in eight catches for 142 yards. Ted Ginn rounded out the "Fun Bunch" catching five passes for 97 yards, including a 29-yard pass just before halftime that put the Buckeyes up 14-7 and silenced the crowd.

The Buckeyes' defense, which replaced nine starters this season, looked championship caliber, holding a Texas team that had scored at least 40 points in 12 consecutive games to a single touchdown. Texas was limited to 326 total yards of offense but didn't take care of the football, coughing it up twice for two OSU scores. Linebacker James Laurinaitis had a phenomenal game finishing with a game-best and career-high 13 tackles and was involved in both Texas turnovers. His forced fumble in the first-quarter was his first of two on the day and he intercepted a Colt McCoy pass in the third quarter to set up a field goal, giving the Buckeyes a 10-point cushion. For his efforts Laurinaitis was named the Big Ten player of the week and the National Defensive Player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and Sporting News organizations.

The Buckeyes turn their sights on Cincinnati this Saturday when the Bearcats travel to Columbus for their first road test of the season. The Bearcats are coming off a 33-15 loss to Pittsburgh this past weekend. Kickoff is at 12:05 p.m. ET on ESPN+ Regional.

Iowa State (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) at No. 16 Iowa (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Iowa City, Iowa - Kinnick Stadium
Series: Iowa leads 35-18; Last meeting: 2005- Iowa State 23, Iowa 3

Albert Young scored on a 1-yard run in the second overtime and No. 16 Iowa kept Syracuse out of the end zone on seven consecutive plays from the 2 for a 20-13 victory last Saturday.

Playing without star quarterback Drew Tate, it was the Hawkeyes defense that came through in a big way in the second OT to hand Syracuse (0-2) its 11th loss in a row. Defensive end Ken Iwebema returned for the Hawkeye's after sitting out against Montana and recorded a team high nine tackles along with a forced fumble and 1.5 sacks. Orangeman quarterback, P Patterson was sacked a total of four times for 28 yards.

Just before the game started, Tate was pulled from the lineup with a strained abdominal muscle. Tate has had the injury since preseason camp but played for most of Iowa's season-opening victory over Montana last week. Tate watched the game from the sideline, and Jason Manson did just enough, throwing his first career touchdown pass and overcoming four interceptions. Manson finished 16-of-32 for 202 yards, hitting tight end Scott Chandler six times for 65 yards. Young had 18 carries for 73 yards.

Iowa will seek revenge in their match up with Iowa State this week. Last year, the Cyclones stole a game away from the Hawkeyes in a sound 23-3 win. Both teams come in with an undefeated 2-0 record with the Cyclones picking up wins against Toledo and UNLV and the Hawkeyes coming in with a win over Montana and an intense double overtime win over Syracuse last week. Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. ET featured on ESPN.

Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Pittsburgh (2-0, 1-0 Big East)
12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ABC
Pittsburgh, Pa. - Heinz Field
Series: Michigan State leads 4-0-1; Last meeting: 1960- Michigan State 7, Pittsburgh 7

The Spartans leave East Lansing, Mich. for the first time this weekend when they travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. for their first road test of the season against the 2-0 Panthers. Full of confidence after a 52-20 dismantling of Eastern Michigan last weekend, MSU looks to continue their domination over Pittsburgh; the Spartans lead the series 4-0-1.

In last week's win, the Spartan offense continues to beat up on opponents. Wide receiver Matt Trannon posted record breaking numbers and Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton was his usual self accounting for 287 total yards and five touchdowns. The break down looked like this: Stanton completed 24-of-32 throws for 254 yards and three TD's while rushing nine times for 33 yards and two scores. Stanton became the sixth quarterback in Michigan State history to reach 5,000 career passing yards when his 17-yard scoring toss to Trannon in the beginning of the second quarter put the Spartans up 17-3. Stanton has now thrown for at least 200 yards and at least one touchdown in each of his last 14 starts-both streaks representing Spartan career records. Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Trannon caught a school-record 14 passes for a career-best 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh has outscored their opponents 71-28 in the last two games with wins over Virginia (38-13) and Cincinnati (33-15). Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ABC. The last meeting between the two schools came in 1960 and resulted in a 7-7 tie.

Ball State (1-1, 1-0 MAC) at Purdue (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN360
West Lafayette, Ind. - Ross-Ade Stadium
Series: Purdue leads 6-0; Last Meeting: 2004 -Purdue 59, Ball State 7

Kory Sheets scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, as Purdue beat Miami (Ohio) 38-31 on Saturday. The Boilermakers are opening the 2006 season with four consecutive home games, hosting Ball State this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET. 

The Boilermakers forced overtime when Anthony Spencer blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation. Sheets final touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run during Purdue's only overtime possession, tied him for the second-most in school history making him the sixth different player to rush for four scores. Miami got to the Purdue 8-yard line on its OT possession, but Purdue's defense held for the win. Dan Bick anchored the defense with a career-high 14 tackles and an interception, while Spencer had a career-high eight stops, including two for loss and one sack, to go with a pass breakup.

The overtime was the first-ever at 400-game old Ross-Ade Stadium enabling Sheets to finish with 60 yards on 14 carries along with his four touchdowns. Curtis Painter completed 18 of 32 passes for 220 yards, connecting with Dorien Bryant eight times for 86 yards, Dustin Keller four times and Greg Orton three times including a 43-yard touchdown pass that was Orton's first touchdown of his career.

The last time Purdue faced Ball State was on September 11, 2004 when the Boilermakers defeated the Cardinals 59-7 in a game that ranks as the most lopsided Boilermaker victory in the history of Ross-Ade Stadium. This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools with a kickoff time of 1:00 p.m. ET found on ESPN360.

Temple (0-2) at Minnesota (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
2:00 p.m. ET
Minneapolis, Minn. - H.H.H. Metrodome
First Meeting

This week the Golden Gophers will try to spoil Al Golden's first season with the Owl's as Temple looks for their first win of the season in Minneapolis, Minn. Both teams are coming off losses in the previous week and hope to bounce back this Saturday. Cal took the series lead from Minnesota when they defeated the Gophers 42-17 and Temple floundered in their shutout loss against Louisville 0-62.

The Golden Gopher offense struggled to find their rhythm as they were out gained 531 to 352 yards in total offense. Quarterback Bryan Cupito was 21 of 33 for 243 yards and senior tight end Matt Spaeth led the Gopher receiving corps with six catches for 91 yards. Alex Daniels rushed for 78 yards on 21 carries, but it was not enough against a California team that came into the game with something to prove after a crushing 17-point defeat at the hands of Tennessee last weekend.

Sophomore Dominic Jones provided the highlight of the game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter that tied the game at 14 all. It was Minnesota's first kickoff return for a touchdown in three years. However, that is as close as the Gophers would get. The Bears scored two more times before Jason Giannini put the ball through the uprights right before halftime to cut the lead to 28-17. Coincidently, those were Minnesota's last points as the Gophers were shut out in the second half.

Kickoff for Minnesota's home-opener is at 2:00 p.m. ET at the Metrodome.

Eastern Michigan (0-2, 0-0 MAC) at Northwestern (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
2:00 p.m. ET
Evanston, Ill. - Ryan Field
First meeting

It will be a homecoming of sorts this Saturday, Sept. 16 when Northwestern entertains Eastern Michigan in the two school's first gridiron meeting. The Eagles visit Ryan Field with six former Wildcat assistant coaches and/or players manning the EMU sidelines, led by Eagles' head coach Jeff Genyk. Genyk was Northwestern's running backs coach and its recruiting coordinator when Eastern Michigan hired him in December of 2003.

Northwestern is returning to Ryan Field after suffering a disappointing 34-17 loss to the nation's second-ranked NCAA Division I-AA club in New Hampshire. Northwestern fell behind 27-17 at halftime and could not muster any scoring in the second half.

New Hampshire put a 13-0 lead on the board before the Wildcat offense even stepped on the field. However, Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton broke a 61-yard run to the New Hampshire 9 on Northwestern's first possession and two plays later, Terrell Jordan ran seven yards for the touchdown. After Northwestern stopped New Hampshire on the next series, the Wildcats drove 54 yards in seven plays with Sutton taking it from the 6 after a pair of penalties on New Hampshire, one for roughing the passer. The PAT gave Northwestern a 14-13 lead, its last of the day.

It was the Wildcats first home game since the death of coach Randy Walker, who was reverently honored throughout the day. The Wildcats hope to forget about the emotional loss when Eastern Michigan comes to town. The Wildcats are 10-8-1 all-time vs. Mid-American Conference teams, having won three in a row against the league since 2005. Kick off is at 2:00 p.m. ET, however, will not be televised.

Junior running back Mike Hart looks to lead the Wolverines against No. 2 Notre Dame after a career-high three-touchdown performance last weekend.

No. 11 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 2 Notre Dame (2-0)
3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
South Bend, Ind. - Notre Dame Stadium
Series: Michigan leads 18-14-1; Last Meeting: 2005 -Michigan 17, Notre Dame 10

The No. 11 Michigan Wolverines collide with No. 2 Notre Dame for the 34th time in school history this Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. This is Notre Dame's second of four straight Big Ten opponents on its schedule, owning an overall mark of 214-106-15 against Big Ten schools. However, the series is knotted at 7-7-1 in South Bend and Wolverine head coach Lloyd Carr is 7-2 against top five teams and a 5-2 record on the road against top 10 teams. The Wolverines head into South Bend after soundly defeating instate rival, Central Michigan, 41-17 last week in Ann Arbor, Mich.

On a wet day that featured a 60-minute weather delay, the Wolverines controlled the ground on both sides of the ball as the Michigan defense gave up only 16 yards rushing on 21 attempts by the Chippewas while recording eight tackles for loss, forcing two fumbles and returning one interception for a touchdown. Junior running back Mike Hart led all rushers with 116 yards on 19 carries and tied a career high with three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Kevin Grady complemented Hart's performance, carrying the ball 12 times for 46 yards and one touchdown. Junior quarterback Chad Henne turned in a solid effort, completing 11 of 19 passes for 113 yards. His top target of the day was sophomore tight end Carson Butler who had three catches for 26 yards.

Fifth-year linebacker David Harris led all Wolverines with six tackles and one tackle for loss. Senior defensive end and team co-captain LaMarr Woodley posted four tackles, including two sacks resulting in a loss of 40 yards. Woodley wreaked havoc in the CMU backfield, forcing one fumble while recovering another. Senior linebacker Max Pollock scored his first career touchdown on a 12-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.

The Irish cruised to victory last week against Penn State 41-17. Saturday's match up marks the first time Lloyd Carr will face a top 10-ranked Irish team, but the fifth time he's faced the nation's second-ranked team. Carr has a 3-1 mark against the second ranked team in the country, beating Ohio State twice and Penn State once while also losing once to the Buckeye's. Game time is 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Youngstown State (2-0, 0-0 Gateway) at No. 25 Penn State (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
University Park, Pa. - Beaver Stadium
First Meeting

Penn State returns home to Beaver Stadium this week, playing in its final non-conference game before starting Big Ten play, hosting Youngstown State in the first meeting between the schools. The Nittany Lions are coming off a 41-17 set back last week at No. 4 Notre Dame. 

Notre Dame broke open the contest with 17 second quarter points and capitalized on Penn State mistakes - scoring 17 points off three turnovers - while controlling most of the ball in the first half for 18:58 minutes compared to the Lions 11:02 minutes of offensive possession.

The Lions finally got on the board in the beginning of the third quarter when Kevin Kelly drilled a 28-yard field goal, capping a 10-play drive highlighted by a 34-yard pass to Jordan Norwood and a 28-yard run by quarterback Anthony Morelli. Morelli finished the game with 21 completions on 33 attempts - both career highs - for 189 yards and a touchdown. Tony Hunt led Penn State with 74 yards rushing and now has more than 2,000 yards rushing in his career. Norwood made six catches for 91 yards to lead the Nittany Lion receiving corps. On defense, Dan Connor and Paul Posluszny each had 12 tackles.

The Penguins head into the contest with a 2-0 mark with wins over Slippery Rock and Maine. Youngstown State was added to the Nittany Lion's schedule in December 2005 when Louisiana Tech asked Penn State to cancel its scheduled visit on Sept. 16 due to scheduling conflicts within the new alignment of schools in the Westerns Athletic Conference. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

San Diego State (0-1, 0-0 MWC) at Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
3:40 p.m. ET, ESPN Plus
Madison, Wis. - Camp Randall Stadium
Series: Wisconsin leads 3-1; Last Meeting: 1998 -Wisconsin 26, San Diego State 14

Wisconsin freshman P.J. Hill ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns as the Badgers beat Division I-AA Western Illinois, 34-10, before a sellout crowd at Camp Randall Stadium last Saturday. UW improves to 18-1 in its last 19 regular-season non-conference games.

Hill had 85 yards in the first half against Western Illinois and turned in the first multiple touchdown game of his career. Hill has now rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his first two games ranking him third in the Big Ten (and third nationally among freshman) with 115.5 rushing yards per game. John Stocco completed 15-of-25 passes for 227 yards and improved to 21-6 as a starter. The senior also moved into third place on Wisconsin's career completions list with 400. The game produced several other career highs including wide receiver Paul Hubbard's four receptions for 87 yards and counterpart Luke Swan's three catches for 49 yards. 

The Badger defense was stifling for Leatherneck quarterback Steve LaFalce, who was sacked three times for 21 yards and picked off another three times. Senior linebacker Mark Zalewski's interception in the second quarter was his first of his career.

UW head coach Bret Bielema will head into this week trying to become only the second Wisconsin coach since 1923 to begin his career with three consecutive victories. The Badgers host San Diego State at 3:40 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Southern Illinois (1-0, 0-0 Gateway) at Indiana (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
4:00 p.m. ET, MediaCom
Bloomington, Ind. - Memorial Stadium
First Meeting

Indiana's James Hardy sparked the Hoosiers' come-from-behind win over Ball State last weekend with a second-half score.

Kellen Lewis threw for 228 yards and ran for 88 more in his debut for the Indiana football team, as the Hoosiers came away with a 24-23 victory over Ball State last week in Muncie, Ind. The Hoosiers improve to 2-0 for the second year in a row and face Southern Illinois in their first meeting this Saturday.

Despite trailing 23-7 at halftime, the offense came through with 17 second-half points on the back of Lewis, who led the Hoosiers on the ground as well as in the air. Lewis' 316 total yards and two touchdowns were the most for a Hoosier QB making his debut since Antwaan Randle El.

For the second straight week, Indiana got a huge play from its special teams, when Marcus Thigpen scored the only points of the first half for the Hoosiers, returning a Ball State kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown on just his second career kickoff return. The return was only the third 100-yard kickoff return in IU history.

The 17 point comeback started in the first drive of the second half when wide receiver James Hardy's 12-yard touchdown catch not only put the Hoosier's within nine points of the Cardinals but also placed Hardy over the 1000-yard mark for his career.

Austin Starr's 35-yard field goal with 10:58 left in the game gave the Hoosiers their first lead of the game, and IU held on for the victory.

The Hoosier's host Southern Illinois in the pair's first meeting on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Salukis are coming off a 49-0 dismantling home win over Lock Haven.