Third weekend of Big Ten Football kicks off Saturday

Oct. 6, 2006

Northwestern (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN360
Madison, Wis. - Camp Randall Stadium
Series: Wisconsin leads 54-32-5; Last Meeting: 2005 - Northwestern 51, Wisconsin 48

The nation's two youngest coaches square off on Saturday when Northwestern's 31-year-old Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin's 36-yearold Bret Bielema and the Badgers.

The Badgers then rebounded from their first loss of the season with a persuasive showing against Indiana, 52-17, for their first Big Ten win last weekend. The Badgers' 52 points were Wisconsin's most in a conference road game since a 56-17 win at Minnesota on Oct. 15, 1983.

Senior QB John Stocco, who has 30 consecutive starts to his credit, pilots the Wisconsin offense. Averaging 195.2 passing yards per contest, Stocco earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week laurels for his performance against the Hoosiers. P.J. Hill has rushed for 598 yards and eight touchdowns in his first five outings as a Badger. The redshirt freshman tailback ranks second in Big Ten rushing, averaging 119.6 yards per game, and is tops in the conference in all-purpose yards. The Badgers total defense is the 15th-best in the nation. The crew has surrendered just six touchdowns this season, and its opponents have scored only three touchdowns on 10 trips inside the red zone this season.

Northwestern closes out a three-game road stretch, its longest in six years, in Madison. For the third consecutive week, the Wildcats are facing a 2005 bowl team on the road. The Wildcats traveled to Happy Valley last weekend, where they suffered a 33-7 defeat. The Wildcats' first fourth-down conversion was a big one. After snagging their second takeaway of the game, an interception by Nick Roach deep in Penn State territory, redshirt freshman Andrew Brewer led the team on a five-play scoring drive capped by a Tyrell Sutton one-yard run on fourth down.

The Wildcat defense has stepped up its ground game attack, trimming its average of rushing yards allowed per play from 5.2 in 2005 to 3.5 after five games. The squad has also tallied 12 pass sacks this season, which is equal to last year's season total.

Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m. CT, and can be seen on ESPN360.

Penn State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN Plus
Minneapolis, Minn. - Metrodome
Series: Penn State leads 5-4; Last Meeting: 2005 - Penn State 44, Minnesota 14

The battle for the Governor's Victory Bell trophy kicks of Saturday at 11 when Penn State travels to Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions garnered their first Big Ten win in a 33-7 triumph over Northwestern last weekend. Quarterback Anthony Morelli threw for a career-high 288 yards, with most of the yardage gained by WR Deon Butler. The sophomore set a Penn State record with 216 yards receiving yards. Tony Hunt ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns. The offense delivered its most complete performance, gaining 528 yards, 295 through the air and 233 on the ground.

Penn State continued its stingy defensive play, limiting the Wildcats to 238 total yards and only 81 on the ground. The Nittany Lions counted three sacks, and sophomore Sean Lee snagged his first career interception late in the third quarter to setup Hunt's third rushing score of the game.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is coming off a loss to unbeaten Michigan on Saturday. The Gophers racked up 323 yards against Michigan's nationally ranked defense, but the Wolverines pulled away for a 28-14 win. Minnesota ranks second among the Big Ten - and 15th nationally - in rushing with 203 yards per contest. Junior tailback Amir Pinnix has gained 477 yards on 75 carries with two touchdowns, while sophomore Alex Daniels has gained 300 yards on 65 attempts and has a tea-high five touchdowns.

All the action can be seen on ESPN Plus.

Indiana (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten)
11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN Plus
Champaign, Ill. - Memorial Stadium
Series: Illinois leads 41-19-3; Last Meeting: 2005 - Indiana 36, Illinois 13

After claiming its first Big Ten win since 2004, Illinois is looking forward to a winning streak for a change when it takes on Indiana at home on Saturday.

Jason Reda's 39-yard field goal with six seconds remaining lifted the Illini past Michigan State, 23-20, on Saturday. The Illini snapped a 10-game conference losing streak and a nine-contest skid to the Spartans.

In only his second career start, freshman QB Isiah "Juice" Williams propelled Illinois' offense with 103 rushing yards on 17 carries. He also completed 9 of 16 passes for 122 yards and a TD, with one interception. Senior running back Pierre Thomas gained 110 yards on 18 carries. On the other side of the ball, Illinois is second in the Big Ten in pass defense at 173.2 yards per game behind junior linebacker J Leman, the conference's leading tackler with 11 stops per game.

The Hoosiers enter Saturday's matchup looking to snap their current three-game losing streak. Against the Spartans, Indiana avoided its first shutout in six years when Austin Starr nailed a 21-yard field goal with 9:54 left to play. Seconds later, Troy Grosfield returned a fumble for a score, and Indiana tallied its first offensive touchdown of the game on an 8-yard scoring run by Josiah Sears with 3:25 left. Grosfield's touchdown marked the Hoosiers' fifth return for a score this season, tying the second-best total in school history.

Junior Blake Powers, fifth-year senior Graeme McFarland and redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis have each started at quarterback for Indiana this season. Each of the gunslingers have recorded at least one touchdown pass this campaign. Lewis handled most of the action against the Badgers, tossing for 113 yards.

The squads meet for the 64th time at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN Plus.

Purdue (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 19 Iowa (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
11:00 a.m. CT, ESPNU
Iowa City, Iowa - Kinnick Stadium
Series: Purdue leads 44-31-3; Last Meeting: 2005 - Iowa 34, Purdue 17

When No. 19 Iowa and Purdue collide in Iowa City this weekend, both squads will be hoping to rebound from their first setbacks of the season.

Two of the Big Ten's top passing quarterbacks in Purdue's Curtis Painter and Iowa's Drew Tate are hoping to pilot their squads' comebacks. The league leader in yards (307.6) and completions (105), Painter also ranks second in touchdowns (10, while Iowa QB Drew Tate ranks second in yards (234.0), third in total offense (241.5) and fifth in touchdowns (8).

Purdue, which ranks fifth nationally in passing offense (317.6) and sacks allowed (0.6), fell short against No. 12 Notre Dame last weekend. The Boilermakers dropped a 35-21 decision to the Fighting Irish on the road despite stellar performances from Selwyn Lymon, Curtis and Anthony Spencer.

Painter passed for 398 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions. His scoring target, Lymon gained 238 receiving yards - the most ever by a Fighting Irish opponent - on eight catches. The receiving tally is also the most by a player in the country this season and the second-most in Purdue history.

Spencer garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for the second straight week after his career performance at Notre Dame. He recorded a personal-best 15 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, and a pass breakup.

Meanwhile, the hosting Hawkeyes were defeated by top-ranked Ohio State, 38-17, at home last Saturday. Tate is looking to recover from a rocky performance against the Buckeyes after tossing three interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter. On the defensive end, Iowa's Mike Klinkenborg ranks ninth in the nation in tackles (10.8) and the Hawkeyes own the 23rd-best pass efficiency defense (104.3) in the country.

Winners of the past two meetings between the teams, Iowa will look for its third straight Boilermaker defeat on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU.

Bowling Green (3-2, 2-1 MAC) at No. 1 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Plus
Columbus, Ohio - Ohio Stadium
Series: Ohio State leads 3-0; Last Meeting: 2003 - Ohio State 24, Bowling Green 17

After No. 1 Ohio State stiffened its grip on the top spot in nation with a convincing conference win over Iowa on the road last weekend, the Buckeyes return to Ohio Stadium to host intrastate foe Bowling Green on Saturday.

The Buckeyes claimed their third victory over a top-25 opponent this season with a 38-17 triumph over then-No. 13 Iowa last Saturday. With a victory over Bowling Green this weekend, Ohio State would expand its winning streak to 13 - the longest in the nation. Troy Smith nailed 64 percent of his passes and threw for a career-best four touchdowns. Senior receiver Anthony Gonzales snagged two of Smith's scoring passes and three more catches for 77 total receiving yards.

Ohio State, which boasts the nation's fifth-ranked scoring defense (9.8 points per game), intercepted Drew Tate three times and recovered a fumble to give the unit 13 takeaways on the season. Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis also recorded his fourth straight game with a pick in the victory over Iowa.

With a 21-9 road win over MAC foe Ohio last weekend, Bowling Green improved to 3-2 on the season. The Falcons have claimed five straight road victories and have won their last five conference road games. Freddie Barnes is the second-best rushing quarterback in the country, averaging 78.4 yards per game, and is 14th in the nation in scoring (9.6). The redshirt freshman QB ran for two touchdowns against Ohio. On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Terrel White is tops in the MAC in tackles and ranks third nationally with 11.8 stops per game.

The teams will square off for the first time since 2003 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN Plus.

Michigan State (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) at No. 6 Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Michigan Stadium
Series: Michigan leads 32-19-2; Last Meeting: 2005 - Michigan 34, Michigan State 31

Michigan State is looking to bounce back after back-to-back setbacks, but the Spartans have no easy task in front of them when they travel to face undefeated Michigan on Saturday.

The sixth-ranked Wolverines are looking for their fifth straight Paul Bunyan Trophy in the interstate rivalry series after moving to 2-0 in conference action with a 28-14 win over Minnesota last weekend.

The last three games in the series all have been decided by eight points or less, including back-to-back overtime games in the past two meetings. In 2004, Michigan rallied for a triple-overtime triumph at home, and then the Wolverines won in overtime in East Lansing last year.

With six seconds left, Jason Reda nailed a 39-yard field goal to give Illinois a 23-20 win over Michigan State last Saturday - ending the Illini's conference losing streak at 10. Spartans QB Drew Stanton left late in the game with bruised ribs but will play Saturday. Running back Javon Ringer, however, exited early with a sprained right knee and will be out for the rest of the year. The Spartans will need Stanton healthy and more output from junior running back Jehuu Caulcrick to maintain one of the countries top units in total offense.

The Wolverines are coming of a season-high performance of 518 total offensive yards. QB Chad Henne passed for 284 yards and three touchdowns - including one Mario Manningham, who notched his third straight 100-yard receiving game - while Mike Hart racked up 195 yards on the ground against the Gophers. Michigan also owns the nation's best rushing defense. The unit has surrendered only 36.4 yards per contest, and its opponents have yet to score a rushing touchdown.

Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.