Week Two of Big Ten Play Opens Saturday

Sept. 28, 2006

Illinois (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) at Michigan State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Plus East Lansing, Mich. - Spartan Stadium Series: Michigan State leads 23-16-2; Last Meeting: 2005-Michigan State 61-14

Illinois is looking for its first win since its season opening victory over Eastern Illinois on September 2nd. The Illini collide with Michigan State, which is coming off a disappointing loss against Notre Dame last week.

While Illinois true-freshman quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams has appeared in all four games for the Illini, he received his first collegiate start in the Illini's Big Ten opener against Iowa in last week's 24-7 loss to Iowa. So far, Williams is averaging 106.8 yards passing and has thrown for three touchdowns. With 50 yards rushing against Iowa, senior running back Pierre Thomas became the 12th player in school history to rush for over 2,000 yards. He now stands at 2,029 for his career. Michigan State looked like it might continue its recent good fortune against the Irish, which included a 44-41 overtime victory in South Bend last year. The Spartans led 31-14 at halftime but the Irish woke up in the fourth quarter and scored 19 unanswered points to edge the Spartans, 40-37. Spartan quarterback, Drew Stanton was 10-22 in the air for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Stanton's favorite target was wide receiver Kerry Reed who caught only two passes but both for touchdowns. Stanton wasn't the only one throwing touchdowns. Wide receiver Matt Trannon hooked up with Javon Ringer on a 26 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. While MSU scored in the air they were more successful running the ball, out rushing the Irish 248 yards to 47. Jehuu Caulcrick led the team with 111 yards on eight carries including one touchdown.

The contest begins at 12:00 p.m. ET with the Spartans hosting the Fighting Illini at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. on ESPN Plus.

Wisconsin (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Indiana (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2 Bloomington, Ind. - Memorial Stadium Series: Wisconsin leads 32-18-2; Last Meeting: 2005-Wisconsin 41, Indiana 24

Kicking off its Big Ten campaign, Indiana welcomes Wisconsin in its third straight home game at Memorial Stadium. IU has won two of its last three contests against UW including its last win in 2002 when the Hoosiers stormed back from a 29-10 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the then No. 23 Badgers, 32-29.

After opening up the season with three straight victories, Wisconsin dropped its Big Ten opener to Michigan, 27-13, in Ann Arbor last week. Redshirt freshman P.J. Hill leads the Badger rushing attack into Bloomington, Ind. with 469 yards and five touchdowns this season. His average of 117.2 yards per game ranks him 10th nationally. Against Michigan, Hill accounted for 118 total yards, 54 rushing and 64 receiving, as well as providing UW's only touchdown.

Despite a 14-7 loss to Connecticut, the Hoosier defense turned in a hard-nosed effort allowing the UConn offense to seven points and forcing three turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 fumble). In addition, the Hoosiers recorded four sacks and limited the Huskies to just 27 yards passing - the lowest total allowed by a Hoosier defense since holding Northwestern to just 25 yards in 1999.

Cornerback Tracy Porter recorded Indiana's two picks in addition to a pass breakup and a blocked kick. Safety Will Meyers, who is on the Lott Award Watch list, totaled a team-high 11 tackles, with a fumble recovery. He also recovered a blocked kick. Sophomore defensive tackle Greg Brown anchored the defensive line with career-highs in tackles (eight), solo stops (seven) and tackles for loss (one-and-a-half). Additionally, junior linebacker Adam McClurg posted a career-best nine tackles in the contest. Marcus Thigpen became the first player in IU history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season, with an 87-yard return to put the Hoosiers on the board. His first kickoff returned for a touchdown this season came against Ball State, a 100-yard return. The Hoosiers and Badgers face off at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday on ESPN2.

Purdue (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 12/14 Notre Dame (3-1)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Notre Dame, Ind. - Notre Dame Stadium Series: Notre Dame leads 50-25-2; Last Meeting: 2005-Notre Dame 49, Purdue 28

The Purdue football team, under head coach Joe Tiller, takes on intrastate rival Notre Dame on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. The Boilermakers are 4-0 overall and are coming off a 27-21 win over Minnesota in the opening weekend of Big Ten play. Notre Dame is coming off a 40-37 come from behind victory over Michigan State.

The Boilermakers used a balanced offense attack and big plays on defense to win their Big ten opener over Minnesota last week. Curtis Painter completed 18-of-27 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Dustin Keller had a career-high six receptions for 119 yards, while Dorien Bryant caught six balls for 59 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Jaycen Taylor rushed for 90 yards on only 11 carries.

Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Anthony Spencer anchored the defensive effort with a career-high 10 tackles, including nine solos and two of Purdue's three sacks. Spencer also forced and recovered a fumble on his first sack midway through the third quarter. Cliff Avril and Justin Scott also recorded 10 tackles.

Down 21-37 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Fighting Irish scored 19 unanswered points to claim a 40-37 victory over the Michigan State Spartans. ND quarterback Brady Quinn started slow, going just 2-of-8 for 6 yards in the first quarter as Michigan State jumped out to a 17-0 lead. But he finished 20-of-36 for 319 yards with five TDs against one interception. Tight end John Carlson was the Notre Dame's leading receiver with 121 yards and one touchdown while wide receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight each had two touchdowns combining 11 catches for 283 yards.

Saturday's 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff will mark the fourth straight week the Fighting Irish has faced a Big Ten opponent this year.

Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli squares off with another first-year quarterback in Northwesterns Mike Kafka this Saturday. Morelli is 64-of-117 this year with 655 total yards and four touchdowns.

Northwestern (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC State College, Pa. - Beaver Stadium Series: Penn State leads 8-3; Last Meeting: 2005-Penn State 34, Northwestern 29

With the non-conference portion of its schedule complete, Northwestern will play in its first Big Ten game this Saturday against Penn State. Both teams are headed into the contest riding on losses from the previous week with the Wildcats capping off their non-conference schedule in a 31-21 loss to Nevada last Friday night while the Nittany Lions were setback 28-6 to No. 1 Ohio State.

Northwestern's Big Ten debut will also be a first for first-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, the nation's youngest football coach at 31 years, will get to match wits with the nation's oldest coach, Joe Paterno, who is 79. When Fitzgerald was born on December 2, 1974, Paterno owned 84 victories and was preparing for this seventh bowl game as PSU's head coach.

Also squaring off will be first-year quarterbacks, Mike Kafka for Northwestern and Anthony Morelli for Penn State. Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Kafka ran for 111 yards on 12 carries, but completed just 9-of- 21 for 122 yards and threw three interceptions against Neveda last week. The meeting between the two schools marked the first time a Big Ten school had ever played at Nevada. Northwestern's only lead was 7-0 when Tyrell Sutton scored on a 3-yard run on the opening drive. Sutton walked away with 94 total yards and a 5.9 yard average.

Morelli was 16-25 for 106 yards with three interceptions of his own against the No. 1 Buckeyes. However, PSU punter Jeremy Kapinos garnered co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors when he placed three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line at top-ranked Ohio State and still averaged 50.5 yards per boot, which is tied for the fifth-highest average in school history.

The Nittany Lions host the Wildcats at State College, Pa in their Big Ten home opener starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

No. 6 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Minnesota (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Minneapolis, Minn. - H.H.H. Metrodome Series: Michigan leads 67-24-3; Last Meeting: 2005-Minnesota 23, Michigan 20

The Wolverines will look to reclaim possession of the Little Brown Jug the oldest trophy game in NCAA history after Minnesota took a 23-20 victory over the Wolverines last year in Ann Arbor, Mich. However, the Gophers meet a Wolverine team that leads the nation in rushing defense (18.5 avg.) and has held all four of their opponents under 50 yards.

A strong 27-13 Wolverine victory against the Wisconsin Badgers last week featured a defensive effort that tallied four sacks and held the Big Ten's leading rusher, P.J. Hill, to 54 yards rushing on 20 carries. With his defense soundly behind him, junior quarterback Chad Henne was able to take chances down the field, throwing for 211 yards on 18 completions and two touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Mario Manningham hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Michigan receiver since Braylon Edwards in 2003 to record multiple touchdowns in back-to-back contests. In addition, Manningham was the first Wolverine to win back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week laurels since Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard in 1991.

Minnesota (2-2, 0-1) lost its Big Ten opener to the Purdue Boilermakers (4-0, 1-0) last Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind. After the Golden Gophers scored on their first possession of the game, Purdue responded with 20 unanswered points and withheld a late Minnesota charge to come away with a 27-21 victory. Running back Amir Pinnix rushed 28 times for 173 yards and Bryan Cupito completed 20 of 34 passes for 205 yards in the effort for the Gophers.

The Wolverines travel to Minneapolis, Minn. on Saturday where the Gophers will be hosting their home opener, hoping to break the Wolverines perfect 10-0 record at the Metrodome. Kickoff is slated for 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

No. 1 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 13 Iowa (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ABC Iowa City, Iowa. - Kinnick Stadium Series: Ohio State leads, 43-14-3; Last Meeting: 2006 - Ohio State 31, Iowa 6

Top-ranked Ohio State travels to Iowa City this week to take on the unbeaten Iowa Hawkeyes in a prime time showdown in Kinnick Stadium. Both teams head into the second week of conference play 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in Big Ten play.

The Buckeyes opened up conference play at home against the Nittany Lions last week. Leading only 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes got a lift from cornerbacks Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith. Jenkins 61-yard return and Smith's first career interception in the final minutes iced the game for the Buckeyes who claimed a 28-6 victory over then No. 24 Penn State. The win extends Ohio State's current winning streak to 11 games, the second longest streak in college football. This season, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents 124-32 allowing only Northern Illinois to score as many as 12 points in a game.

The Hawkeyes, who are ranked 13th in both major polls, are coming off a 24-7 victory at Illinois. Drew Tate completed 17-of-27 passes for 190 yards to lead an offense that collected 344 total yards. Running back Albert Young had six catches for 40 yards to go with his team-high 57 yards rushing, and Dominique Douglas added five catches for 64 yards.

While Ohio State holds a 43-14-3 series advantage over the Hawkeyes, Iowa had a decisive 33-7 win over the Buckeyes in 2004. Iowa is 2-0 at home this year with wins over Montana and Iowa State and holds a three-game winning streak at home. The 7:00 p.m. CT kickoff on ABC will be the only fifth night game played in Kinnick Stadium's history.