Fourth weekend of Big Ten Football action kicks off Saturday

QB Drew Stanton looks to lead Michigan State's potent offense past Ohio State on Saturday

QB Drew Stanton looks to lead Michigan State's potent offense past Ohio State on Saturday

Oct. 14, 2005

No. 8 Penn St (6-0, 3-0) at Michigan (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
3:30 pm ET, ABC Sports
Michigan Stadium - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Penn State takes its unblemished record on the road when it travels to Michigan on Saturday. The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions are the conference's only undefeated team and their 6-0 start is the squad's best since starting the 1999 season with nine straight wins.

The Lions claimed sole possession of the conference standings lead and became bowl eligible with a road win against Ohio State last Saturday.

Running back Derrick Williams leads a talented group of freshman in the Lions' rushing game that has combined for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns, and average 14.2 yards per run. Williams is at the head of the pack with 579 yards. The Lions defense, which held the Buckeyes scoreless after halftime, is also making headlines. The unit ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing only 15.5 points per game. Linebacker Paul Posluszny earned his third-straight Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor after leading the Lions with 14 tackles, including a sack for 10 yards.

Michigan is coming off a hard-fought loss to Minnesota that was decided by a last-second Gopher field goal. Quarterback Chad Henne leads the offense with 1,266 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. His favorite target, Jason Avant, has 45 catches for five touchdowns and 587 yards. Avant ranks second in the league with 7.5 grabs per game.

Michigan owns victories the last six meetings between the two teams, including a thrilling 27-24 overtime win at home in their last encounter. The teams meet at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game can be seen on ABC Sports.


No. 16 Michigan State (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 15 Ohio State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
12:00 p.m. ET, ABC Sports
Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio

Two of the Big Ten's top-25 teams collide Saturday when No. 16 Michigan State visits No. 15 Ohio State in a meeting that could hurt the loser's chance at the conference championship. The meeting pits one of the country's most productive offenses in the Spartans against the Buckeyes' nationally renowned defense.

The ground-game match-up promises to be a thrilling face-off. The Buckeyes, who top in the country in rushing defense allowing only 56.2 yards per contest, will try to stop the Spartans' eighth-ranked run game, which is averaging 252.4 yards per game.

Previously undefeated Michigan State suffered its first loss to instate rival Michigan two weeks ago, but the Spartans are still perfect on the road. Quarterback Drew Stanton leads the Spartans' offense with the nation's top pass efficiency rating (190.1). His 293.2 passing yards per game also leads the conference. He has maximized the potential of his team's receiving corps, connecting with four different Spartan receivers at least 17 times each. Matt Trannon leads the unit with 337 yards on 20 catches, and Kyle Brown is close behind him with 315 yards on 21 grabs. The Spartans also boast a well-balanced ground attack with the talented trio of Javon Ringer, Jehuu Caulcrick and Jason Teague, who have combined to rush for 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Spartans will look to attack early - a key to Michigan State's winning strategy. The Spartans have outscored their first five opponents, 146-62, in the first half.

After a 17-10 setback at Penn State last Saturday, the Buckeyes' defense hopes it can put a halt to Michigan State's commanding offense. Despite the loss, Ohio State allowed the Nitany Lions only 194 yards of total offense. Ohio State linebackers A.J. Hawk, Anthony Schlegel and Bobby Carpenter lead the Buckeyes' stingy defense that gives up league's least total offense, averaging 238.2 yards per game.

The Buckeyes lead the all-time series against the Spartans 23-12 and have claimed the last three contests, including a 32-19 win last year on the road. The game kicks off at noon ET on ABC Sports.


No. 23 Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 22 Minnesota (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
12:00 pm ET, ABC Sports
Memorial Stadium - Minneapolis, MN

Another pair of nationally ranked foes face off in the 115th contest of the oldest continual series in college football when Minnesota hosts Wisconsin on Saturday. The teams have faced each other every year since 1907. Both teams have opened the past four seasons with at least five victories in their first six games.

Minnesota is coming off a 23-20 last-second win against Michigan that ended a 16-game losing streak against the Wolverines. The win propelled the 22nd-ranked Gophers into the national polls for a match up with the No. 23 Badgers that could affect the conference title race.
 
Ignited by Laurence Maroney's sensational running, Minnesota leads the league in rushing success, racking up an average of 280.5 yards per game. In last week's win, the Gophers outrushed the Wolverines, 264-94, while Maroney rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown and Gary Russell added 128 yards.
 
The Badgers are looking to rebound after a dramatic 51-48 setback at Northwestern last Saturday. They erased a 17-point deficit with 4:22 left in the game but could not overtake the Wildcats. Despite the loss, quarterback John Stocco ignitied the Badgers' offense, threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns - all of which were caught by Jonathan Orr.

Wisconsin has claimed eight of the last 10 meetings, winning 38-14 last year in Madison. Kickoff is set for noon ET, and the game is on ESPN.


Northwestern (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at Purdue (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Ross-Ade Stadium - West Lafayette, Ind.

After a huge win against then-14th ranked Wisconsin last week, Northwestern hits the road for only the second time this season when the Wildcats travel to Purdue on Saturday. The Boilermakers are looking to celebrate homecoming with a win after suffering a tough loss to Iowa.

Once the Wildcats' offense found its rhythm against the Badgers, it was unstoppable, gaining a school-record 674 yards. The offensive attack was well-balanced; Northwestern totaled 361 yards passing and 313 yards rushing. Running back Terrell Sutton led the ground game and leads the league with 154.4 yards and 11 touchdowns. On the aerial front, quarterback Brett Basanez earned the third Big Ten Player of the Week honor of his career with his performance, completing 72.2 percent of his passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Basanez's consistency has been key for the Wildcats, and he maintains a touchdown-interception ratio of 7-to-1.

Despite the setback, Purdue quarterback Brandon Kirsch delivered a solid game against the Hawkeyes, setting career highs with 31 completions and 353 passing yards. He connected with Dorien Bryant and Kyle Ingraham on 10 passes each, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Bryant late in the second quarter to cut Iowa's 10-point advantage to 17-14 at halftime. It marked the second straight game where Kirsch completed passes to eight different receivers.

The teams meet for the 73rd time at noon Satuday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.


Indiana (4-1, 1-1) at Iowa (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN Plus Regional
Kinnick Stadium - Iowa City, Iowa

Indiana looks to continue the success of its best start in more than a decade when the Hoosiers host Iowa on Satuday. The Hoosiers jumped to a 4-1 record - their best since going 5-1 in 1994 - but the Hawkeyes' season is beginning to resemble part of their more recent history. They had the same record - 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play - before reeling off an eight-game win streak that carried them through the postseason in 2004.

The Hawkeyes are coming off a 34-17 win at Purdue - their first at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., since 1991. Iowa lost its Big Ten opener to Ohio State before racking up a combined 1,011 yards in wins against Illinois and Purdue. Sophomore quarterback Drew Tate leads the Hawkeyes' offense with the league's second best passing efficiency (151.5). Tate celebrated his 21st birthday with a career-high performance, passing 375 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't waste any time, either, piloting three consecutive scoring drives to start the game against the Boilermakers.

The Hoosiers' aerial attack is also potent. Quarterback Blake Powers threw a career-high four touchdown passes in the 36-13 win against Illinois last week. He also completed a personal best 22-of-35 passes for 198 yards. The performance earned Powers the honors of becoming the first Indiana quarterback to throw three or more touchdown passes in four straight games.

The two teams haven't played since 2002 - a 37-26 Hawkeye victory. They meet for the 67th time Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. The game can be seen on ESPN Plus.