Big Ten Football Preview: Week 7

Oct. 14, 2010


(3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Illinois at No. 13/11/12 Michigan State
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 • Noon ET • East Lansing, Mich. • Spartan Stadium (75,005)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Eric Collins, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson 
Series: Michigan State leads, 24-17-2 • Last Meeting: Oct. 10, 2009: Michigan State 24, Illinois 14

(6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

Saturday's game marks the 44th meeting between Illinois and Michigan State and the first at Spartan Stadium since 2006.  The Spartans hold a 24-17-2 overall series advantage and lead 12-8-1 when playing in East Lansing. Last season, MSU won 24-14 in Champaign after the series took a two-year hiatus in 2007 and 2008.  Illinois, however, was on the winning sideline last time out in East Lansing, as the Fighting Illini captured a 23-20 victory to snap a nine-game losing streak against Michigan State, marking their first win over the Spartans since 1992.  Saturday also marks the annual Homecoming game for MSU, which is 6-0 for the seventh time in school history and first time since 1999. The Spartans are 61-30-3 (.665) in 94 Homecoming games, including a 4-4-1 record against Illinois.  They have won their last three Homecoming games and 10 of its last 14.

Illinois earned its first-ever victory at Penn State last Saturday on the heels of a season-high 437 yards of total offense, including 282 on the ground. It was the third time this year that Illinois has rushed for 200 or more yards and was the most rushing yards that Penn State had allowed since 2004. Junior running back Mikel Leshoure recorded a career-high 27 carries for 119 yards against the Nittany Lions and is now averaging 20.8 carries per game this season. Entering the season, Leshoure had carried the ball 20+ times just once, and now he has three games this season with 20 or more attempts.  The talented back ranks second in the league with 119.4 rushing yards per game.  Also helping with the ground – and air – game is QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who has rushed for 277 yards and thrown for 640 yards on the season.  Last week Scheelhaase turned in one of his more consistent efforts, completing 15-of-19 passing for 151 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.  On the year, Scheelhaase has four TDs to four INTs.  Junior receiver A.J. Jenkins tallied a career-high seven receptions for 76 yards, including an 18-yard score in the win at Penn State, and leads the Illini with 20 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns.  Michigan State’s defense is coming off an impressive outing against Michigan where the Spartans recorded three interceptions in the win to give them nine for the season. MSU has forced 14 turnovers, which already equals last year’s total, and ranks second in the conference and 13th in the country with a plus-5 turnover margin.  The Spartans also enter with a stout rush defense that rates fourth-best in the league with 111.3 yards allowed each time out.  That average improved after holding Michigan’s Denard Robinson to just 86 yards on the ground last week.  Junior safety Trenton Robinson was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after posting seven tackles, an interception and a pass breakup to help the Green and White hold Michigan to season-lows in points (17), rushing yards (162) and total yards (377). Michigan entered the game ranked among the top 10 nationally with 41.4 points, 324.4 rushing yards and 565.0 total yards per contest.

Much like Illinois, the Spartans enter Saturday with a potent rushing offense – one that ranks third in the Big Ten and 14th nationally with 225.0 yards per game.  But MSU attacks with a two-headed monster in Edwin Baker (113.8) and Le’Veon Bell (91.5), who respectively rank 15th and 36th in the nation. With 249 yards on the ground last week, MSU has now run for more than 200 yards in five games this season.  The Spartans amounted 536 total yards of offense, the fifth-most allowed by Michigan in its history.  They found that success by way of the “big play” with five plays going for more than 40 yards and three of which going for scores.  QB Kirk Cousins is currently fifth in the Big Ten with 236.0 passing yards per game, while Mark Dell is 10th at 59.3 receiving yards each time out.  As a team, MSU is putting up 25.8 points and 473.2 total yards per outing.  Despite the loss to Michigan State last year, Illinois held the Spartans to just three first downs, no points, and 91 total yards in the second half and will be looking for a repeat performance this year.  If anything, the Illini are coming off a defensive effort that puts them in position to do just that.  Last week at Penn State, held the Nittany Lions to season lows of seven first downs, 235 total yards, 2-of-14 third-down conversions and 21:48 time of possession, while keeping them to only 65 rushing yards – well below their average 138.2 yards per game.  Illinois is third in the conference in scoring defense (17.0), fourth against the pass (187.8) and fifth in defending the run (117.0). Martez Wilson is third in the league with 9.2 tackles per game, while Ian Thomas is 13th at 7.0. Tavon Wilson, who set a career high in tackles with 13 stops in last year's game against MSU, leads the Big Ten this year with two fumble recoveries and is tied for second with five passes defended.


(2-4, 2-2 Sun Belt)

Arkansas State at Indiana
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 • Noon ET • Bloomington, Ind. • Memorial Stadium (52,929)
ESPNU • Announcers: Rob Stone, David Pollack
Series: First Meeting

(3-2, 0-2 Big Ten)

Saturday marks Indiana’s 98th Homecoming and the first time the Hoosiers and Arkansas State will take the field.  IU owns a 43-48-6 record on Homecoming, including wins in five of the last six seasons.  The Red Wolves have previously played three Big Ten teams a total of five times, carding an 0-5 mark against the conference.  ASU last played against a Big Ten opponent in 2009 when it fell 24-21 to Iowa.  The Red Wolves are 0-2 against Illinois, falling 59-7 in 2002 and 41-3 in 1999, while Minnesota defeated ASU 17-14 in 1998 and 55-7 in 1995.  Arkansas State sits at 2-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference after snapping a two-game skid with a 24-19 victory over North Texas last week.  Indiana is currently on a two-game slide after dropping back-to-back games against nationally-ranked Michigan (42-35) and Ohio State (38-10). 

ASU is averaging 26.7 points, 413.7 total yards, 270.2 passing yards and 143.5 rushing yards per game. Ryan Aplin has thrown for 1,579 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, while completing 57.4 percent of his passes for a 134.63 passing efficiency rating. Aplin has also rushed for 207 yards and scored four times. He ranks 15th nationally averaging 296.8 total yards per game.  The Red Wolves possess three receivers with at least 15 receptions and 275 yards, while 16 wideouts have at least one catch on the year.  Junior Dwayne Frampton (28 catches, 331 yards, 3 touchdowns) leads the team followed by sophomore Allen Muse (21, 397, 3) and sophomore Taylor Stockemer (15, 284, 2). Along with Aplin, junior Derek Lawson has rushed for 289 yards with three TDs and a 4.4 average. He is averaging 48.2 yards per game and Aplin is averaging 34.5 yards each time out.  Indiana’s defense is giving up 27.6 points, 221.8 passing, 191.6 rushing, and 413.4 total yards per game.  Tyler Replogle ranks tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 8.0 tackles per game, while Leon Beckum follows on the team with 5.7 stops per outing.  Last week at Ohio State he finished with a game-high nine tackles, three of which were for loss and one sack. Jeff Thomas posted six tackles, 1.5 TFLs and his first career interception in the loss.  IU had eight TFLs last Saturday and enter this weekend with seven sacks and 24 tackles for loss this season.

After battling in a shootout against Michigan, Indiana’s offense struggled to fire against Ohio State.  The Hoosiers mustered only 210 passing yards, including 69 on the ground and 141 in the air, with 106 of those coming from quarterback Ben Chappell on 16-of-26 passing.  The senior QB had two interceptions in the loss, leaving him with just three INTs to his 12 touchdowns on the season. Chappell is sixth nationally in completion percentage (70.2) and completions (26.4), ninth in passing yards (295.2), and 24th in passing efficiency (154.0).  He guides a squad that ranks 10th in the country in passing offense (306.8), 32nd in scoring offense (33.8) and 34th in passing efficiency (145.9). Chappell’s success through the air has come from the sure hands of a trio of Hoosier wideouts. Tandon Doss ranks second nationally in all-purpose yards (192.3), shares 24th in receptions (6.0) and 26th in receiving yards (83.8), while Damarlo Belcher is tied for 11th in catches (11.0) and 37th in receiving yards (77.8), and Terrance Turner shares 38th in receptions (5.4). On defense, ASU is allowing 31.8 points, 237.7 passing yards, 230.5 rushing yards, and 468.2 total yards per game. The defense has recorded nine sacks, four interceptions and five fumble recoveries. A-State held North Texas to a season-low 292 yards last Saturday, which was also the fewest yards allowed by ASU this season.  Senior linebacker Javon McKinnon paces the team with 50 tackles and 31 solos to go along with 2.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. Senior defensive tackle Bryan Hall has a team-high 3.5 sacks, and senior safety M.D. Jennings has a team-best two INTs (62 yards) with 36 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.


(1-5, 0-2 Big Ten)

Minnesota at Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 • Noon ET • West Lafayette, Ind. • Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500)
ESPN2 • Announcers: Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Brian Griese 
Series: Minnesota leads, 33-30-3 • Last meeting: Oct. 10, 2009: Minnesota 35, Purdue 20

(3-2, 1-0 Big Ten)

Minnesota hits the road for the second straight week Saturday, looking to snap a five-game losing skid.  Purdue on the other hand is looking to secure its second consecutive Big Ten win after a frustrating start to the season which saw several Boilermakers plagued with injuries.  The Golden Gophers hold a 33-30-3 advantage in the series and have captured the last two contests by an average of 13 points.  Despite being out-gained last year 402-281, Minnesota earned a 35-20 Homecoming victory over Purdue by impressive defensive and special teams efforts. The Gophers forced three turnovers and converted two into short touchdown drives, while also getting a 47-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown.

Minnesota enters the weekend ranked sixth in the conference in passing (242.7), eighth in scoring (26.2), rushing (154.3) and total yards (397.0).  In last week’s loss to Wisconsin, Minnesota garnered only 345 total yards with just 122 yards on the ground.  QB Adam Weber, who ranks fourth in the league with 241.3 passing yards per game, finished the day with 249 yards on 11-for-25 passing and moved into fifth place in Big Ten history with 806 career completions.  Eric Lair was the Gophers’ leading receiver with four catches for 78 yards, while DeLeon Eskridge paced the Gophers in rushing with 21 carries for 72 yards.  This battle could be decided in the trenches as the Minnesota offensive line ranks 28th in the country with just 1.17 sack allowed each game while Purdue ranks fourth nationally with 3.4 sacks per outing and 10th with 8.0 tackles for loss per contest. In last week’s win at Northwestern, Purdue amassed five sacks and nine tackles for loss, marking its fifth straight game with at least three sacks and six TFLs. Senior Ryan Kerrigan posted a sack in his fifth straight outing, pushing his Big Ten-leading season totals to 5.5 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss.  Junior Joe Holland and sophomore Dwayne Beckford both posted double-digit tackles, finishing with 12 and 11, respectively.  Overall, the Boilermakers give up 21.0 points, 222.2 passing, 135.2 rushing and 357.4 total yards each time out. 

While all eyes will be on the Boilermaker pass rush Saturday, they might be focused on the rushing attack when Purdue is on offense.  The Boilers enter the weekend ranked 30th in the country in rushing (196.8), while the Gophers are struggling to contain the ground game, rating 100th nationally at 196.3 yards allowed each time out.  Purdue has posted fourth straight 200-yard rushing efforts and will look to improve that streak by committee.  Last week redshirt freshman QB Rob Henry paced the team with 132 rushing yards on 16 carries, while senior Keith Carlos recorded a career-high 64 yards on seven rushes.  Henry, however, only got it done on the ground as he passed for just 47 yards on 6-of-18 passing with one interception.  His 47 yards marked the fewest for the Boilermakers since 1988. Dan Dierking leads the team in rushing for the year with 277 yards on the ground.  Minnesota currently ranks 10th in the conference in total yards allowed per game (417.8) and 11th in yards allowed per play (7.2).  The 15 rushing touchdowns allowed by Minnesota are three more than what the Big Ten’s top-five rushing defenses have combined to give up this year. Gary Tinsley and Kyle Henderson are coming off career highs in tackles with 14 an 11, respectively, while Ryan Collado (11) and Kyle Theret (10) also notched double-digit tackle figures in the loss last week.  Minnesota still boasts a turnover margin of plus-4, which ranks 21st nationally.  Michael Carter is tied for fourth in the conference with a pair of picks.


(4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)

No. 15/14/15 Iowa at No. -/24/24 Michigan
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 • 3:30 p.m. ET • Ann Arbor, Mich. • Michigan Stadium (109,901)
ABC • Announcers: Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
Series: Michigan leads, 40-11-4 • Last Meeting: Oct. 10, 2009: Iowa 30, Michigan 28

(5-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

Michigan welcomes Iowa for its annual Homecoming game this weekend and will look to extend its overall advantage over the Hawkeyes to 41-11-4. Iowa won 30-28 in Iowa City a year ago to stop a three-game losing streak in a series that has seen three of the last five games decided by three points or less.  And while the Wolverines hold a 24-6-3 advantage in games played in Michigan Stadium, Iowa last captured a win in Ann Arbor in 2002 with a 34-9 victory that spoiled the Wolverines’ Homecoming.  Will the Hawkeyes be able to spoil another? Iowa is 5-3 when visiting for Michigan's homecoming game, but has won just those six of 33 games overall in Ann Arbor.  Saturday’s focus, however, will be on one thing:  Michigan’s powerful offense against a tough Iowa defense.

Michigan ranks third in total offense (533.7), sixth in rushing offense (297.3), eighth in pass efficiency (167.7) and 14th in scoring offense (37.3).  Iowa on the other hand, leads the nation in scoring defense (10.2) and ranks second in rushing defense (63.2), fourth in total defense (242.2), and 10th in pass efficiency defense (102.1).  What will remain to be seen his how effective the Hawkeye defense will be against Michigan QB Denard Robinson.  Last week Robinson, who is second in the nation in rushing (165.2), struggled to just 86 yards on the ground against Michigan State and threw for 215 yards and three interceptions.  Overall, he has rushed for 991 yards and thrown for 1,223 yards this year while scoring nine TDs on the ground in five games.  Iowa has allowed just 37 points on the season and are the lone squad in the country to have kept its opponents from scoring a rushing TD.  Remarkably, Iowa entered the Michigan game last year with a streak of 33 straight quarters without allowing a rushing score. The Wolverines ended that streak in the second period and added two rushing scores in the second half.  Robinson is also second in the country in total offense (369.0), which is nearly 130 yards less than what Iowa allows each time out.  Last week he found eight Wolverines for at least one reception, with Roy Roundtree leading the way with 48 yards on six catches.  Leading the Hawkeye defense is Jeff Tarpinian with 8.0 stops per games and 2.0 sacks on the year.  Shaun Prater has two picks so far and Mike Daniels has 8.0 tackles for loss on the campaign.

While all the talk this year is about the Michigan quarterback, let’s not forget that it was the Iowa quarterback that stole the headlines in last year’s 30-28 victory, when Ricky Stanzi was 20-of-38 for 284 yards and two touchdowns.  Stanzi has remained in form this season as his 245.2 passing yards per game ranks third in the Big Ten.  He holds a 67.8 completion percentage and has 10 touchdowns to two interceptions this season. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is the leading receiver with 66.8 yards per game, good for fifth in the league.  And the Hawkeyes have a Robinson too, as Adam Robinson is fifth in the conference with 96.0 rushing yards per game and tied for fifth with six touchdowns on the year.  As a team, Iowa is averaging 33.6 points, 172.2 rushing, 254.2 passing, and 426.4 total yards each time out.  By comparison, Michigan’s defense is allowing 26.8 points, 146.3 rushing, 304.3 passing and 450.7 total yards every Saturday.  Last week against Michigan State, the Wolverines allowed 536 yards of total offense, which was the fifth-most in school history.  In that game, J.T. Floyd had 10 solo tackles among his game-high 13 stops. Jonan Mouton and Obi Ezeh each added nine tackles.  Mouton is second in the conference with 9.3 tackles per game, while Jordan Kovacs is fourth at 8.8, Floyd is fifth at 8.0, and Cameron Gordon is tied for eighth at 7.7.


(6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

No. 1/1/1 Ohio State at No. 18/16/16 Wisconsin
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 • 6 p.m. CT • Madison, Wis. • Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
ESPN • Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Erin Andrews 
Series: Ohio State leads, 53-17-5 • Last meeting: Oct. 10, 2009: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13

(5-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

Ohio State has returned to a popular spot in the national rankings as the Buckeyes head to Wisconsin as the nation’s No. 1 team for the first time since the final regular season poll of 2007. The series between the Buckeyes and the Badgers, which dates back to 1913, shows Ohio State with a 53-17-5 lead.  OSU is 24-10-2 in Madison, 8-5-1 over the last 14 meetings, and has captured the last three contests between the schools. The Buckeyes have won 39 of their last 43 Big Ten games and have won their last eight conference road games against AP Top 25 opponents.  The Badgers are 40-4 at home since 2004 and have won 25 of the last 28 night games.  Both teams are coming off Big Ten blowouts.  Jim Tressel became the third-fastest coach to win 100 games at a Big Ten school last week in a 38-10 victory over Indiana, while the Badgers ousted Minnesota 41-23 in Madison.

Saturday’s contest will feature the Big Ten’s two co-Offensive Players of the Week in Ohio State quarterback Terrele Pryor and Wisconsin running back John Clay.  Pryor is coming off a personal-best 334 passing yards while setting a career-high with 24 completions in the win over Indiana.  The Buckeye QB threw three touchdowns passes to three different receivers en route to his sixth career game of 300 or more yards of total offense.  Pryor ranks third in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in pass efficiency (170.47), and fourth in the conference in total offense (283.8).  Dane Sanzenbacher (4.50, 68.5) ranks sixth and fourth, respectively, in Big Ten receptions and receiving yards per game, while DeVier Posey (4.33, 4.33) is seventh and ninth in those categories.  As a team, Ohio State paces the conference in scoring (43.2), is third in total offense (465.83), and fourth in passing (248.5) with a league-best 17 passing touchdowns.   Wisconsin is allowing 19.0 points per game and will look to keep Pryor well under his total yards average as the Badgers give up 308.3 yards each time out. Eight of Wisconsin’s last 14 opponents have failed to surpass 300 yards of total offense.  On the ground, UW’s rushing defense ranks third in the Big Ten at 108.2 yards allowed per contest.  Junior DE J.J. Watt leads the Badgers and ranks second in the Big Ten with 8.5 tackles for loss, is tied for the Big Ten lead with six pass breakups, and tied for second on the team with 30 tackles.

Wisconsin features a powerful rushing attack with the duo of Clay and freshman James White.  The ground game ranks 11th nationally with 240.8 yards per game on the ground with Clay 14th in the country with 115.3 yards per game to go along with nine touchdowns. Clay matched a career high with three rushing touchdowns and compiled 111 yards on 21 carries to lead Wisconsin past Minnesota last week and share conference accolades with Pryor. White has seen more playing time of late and has 216 yards and four touchdowns through two conference games. He ranks fourth among Big Ten running backs in yards per game in conference play.  As a team, the Badgers are scoring 37.1 points per game, third best in the Big Ten.  QB Scott Tolzien is averaging 200.2 passing yards per game, which ranks eighth in the conference, but owns the league’s third-best completion rate of 69.7 and has thrown seven touchdowns to just two interceptions.  Ohio State’s defense will look to up that total as the Buckeyes are third nationally in turnover margin (+1.67) with 17 takeaways in 2010.  OSU leads the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense (93.81), pass defense (158.33) and total defense (237.00), and is second in rushing defense (78.67) and scoring defense (13.5).  But the Buckeyes’ “D” will be tested on the ground with the Badgers’ rushing attack.  OSU has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 games, which is the second-longest streak in the country.  The Buckeyes are led on defense by Ross Homan with 6.2 stops per game, Nathan Williams with 3.5 tackles for loss so far, and Brian Rolle and Chimdi Chekwa each with a pair of picks on the year.