Big Ten Football Preview: Week 7

Oct. 16, 2009


(6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

No. 11/12/11 Iowa at Wisconsin
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Madison, Wis. • Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
ESPN • Announcers: Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman
Series: Tied 41-41-2 • Last Meeting: Oct. 18, 2008: Iowa 38, Wisconsin 16

(5-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

Saturday marks the 85th meeting between Iowa and Wisconsin with the overall series tied at 41-41-2.  The Hawkeyes have captured 22 of the last 30 contests, including a 38-16 win in Iowa City a year ago, but Wisconsin has won two of the last three games – the last by a 17-13 margin in 2007 during Iowa's last visit to Madison.  Iowa, which is looking to extend the nation’s second-longest winning streak to 11 games, holds a 3-2 advantage since the Heartland Trophy was introduced prior to the 2004 meeting.  Wisconsin is 34-3 at Camp Randall Stadium since the 2004 season with one of the losses coming to Iowa on a 20-10 decision in 2005.

Last year’s win over the Badgers was helped by a dominant single-man rushing attack as Iowa’s now-departed Shonn Greene scampered for 217 yards and four touchdowns.  With that kind of performance, Ricky Stanzi did not have to do much in the pocket, although he finished 11-of-18 for 114 yards and a touchdown.  Stanzi is coming off an impressive outing against Michigan where he passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns and now faces a Badger pass defense that has allowed the second-most aerial touchdowns (10) in the conference this year.  Iowa is posting 363.0 total yards per game – 232.8 of which is through the air – while Wisconsin is allowing 333.2.  Adam Robinson is fourth in Big Ten rushing with 71.5 yards per game, while teammate Brandon Wegher is ninth at 48.3.  The UW defense boasts a plus-4 turnover margin and has managed 35 points off opponents’ mistakes this year.  Chris Maragos is tied for second in the league with three interceptions on the season, while O’Brien Schofield paces the conference with 6.5 total sacks and Mike Taylor leads the team with 7.2 tackles per game.
Last year it was Iowa with the powerful running game, but the Badgers have John Clay in the backfield this year and hope to keep the ball moving as much as possible against a potent Hawkeye defense Saturday.  UW leads the Big Ten in time of possession (33:20) and scored at least 31 points in four straight games prior to posting 13 at Ohio State.  Despite out-gaining the Buckeyes 368-184 in the loss, Wisconsin gave up several return yards on two interception TDs thrown by QB Scott Tolzien, who was also sacks six times.  Clay struggled against a tough OSU rush defense, managing just 59 yards while struggling with an ankle injury, and now hits the field against an Iowa unit that has allowed just three TDs on the ground this year.  The Hawkeyes are giving up 15.8 points per game – 20th in the nation – and have posted 16 turnovers on the season, which is second-best in the country.  In last week’s win over Michigan, Iowa notched five takeaways and increased its turnover margin to plus-9.  The Hawkeyes have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season, as Iowa State's Alexander Robinson rushed 19 times for 100 yards in Iowa's 35-3 win.  Tyler Sash has a league-best five INTs this year, while teammate Brett Greenwood has three.  Pat Angerer is fifth in the Big Ten with 9.8 stops per contest.  


(4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Northwestern at Michigan State
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • Noon ET • East Lansing, Mich. • Spartan Stadium (75,005)
ESPN2 • Announcers: Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
Series: Michigan State leads 33-16 • Last Meeting: Oct. 11, 2008: Michigan State 37, Northwestern 20

(3-3, 2-1 Big Ten)

Michigan State leads the all-time series over Northwestern by a 33-16 count, but it seems the Wildcats and Spartans enter the weekend both carrying a little momentum.  NU topped non-conference opponent Miami (Ohio) 16-6 last week and is seeking its fourth straight Big Ten road win and fifth in its last six tries.  After struggling out of the gates, Michigan State has responded with wins over Michigan and Illinois.

Both teams are nearly identical on both sides of the ball.  Michigan State posts 30.2 points per game, followed by Northwestern at 29.2, while both teams allow 22.8 points per contest on defense.  Each team relies heavily on the pass as the Spartans rate first (280.3) and the Wildcats are third (260.0) in the conference in passing yards per game.  On the ground, MSU (143.5) and NU (122.8) rank just seventh and ninth, respectively.  Northwestern QB Mike Kafka produced 244 yards of total offense last week, completing 15-of-31 passing for 191 yards and rushed 15 times for 53 yards and two scores.  Kafka is currently second in the league with 260.5 total yards per game, while his favorite wideout, Zeke Markshausen, ranks fourth in the Big Ten in receptions (5.67) and seventh in receiving yards (58.0). Defensively, Preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Greg Jones leads a Spartan defense, which ranks 23rd nationally in rushing defense (102.3), but only ninth in the conference against the pass (226.7), having allowed a league-high 13 TDs through the air. Jones leads the Big Ten with 71 tackles – an average of 11.8 stops per game.

Behind quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, MSU ranks first among Big Ten teams in passing offense (280.3) and passing efficiency (143.37 rating). Cousins is completing more than 62 percent of his passes for 167.0 yards each time out and has thrown just four INTs to his seven scores.  Blair White (74.8) and B.J. Cunningham (54.0) rank fourth and ninth in average receiving yards among conference wideouts.  The Spartans also rank first among league teams in sacks allowed, giving up just one sack per contest. Northwestern totaled eight sacks against Miami, its highest single-game sack total since the Wildcats began keeping official sack statistics. Linebacker Quentin Davie led Northwestern's sack parade, collecting three of the team's eight sacks. The Wildcats have now recorded 11 sacks in their last two games and now rank second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally with 3.17 sacks per contest.  After forcing six turnovers in its Oct. 3 game at Purdue, Northwestern registered four takeaways – three INTs and a fumble recovery – last week against Miami, giving the Wildcats 10 takeaways for the month of October.  Prior to allowing a late touchdown to Miami, Northwestern had played over 100 minutes of shutout football.  Brian Peters has a pair of picks on the season and Davie (7.7) and Nate Williams (7.6) rate 13th and 14th in the conference in tackles per game.


(5-1, 3-0 Big Ten)

No. 7/7/7 Ohio State at Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • Noon ET • West Lafayette, Ind. • Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Rebecca Haarlow

Series: Ohio State leads 37-12-2 • Last Meeting: Oct. 11, 2008: Ohio State 20, Purdue 3

(1-5, 0-2 Big Ten)

Seventh-ranked Ohio State has a chance this Saturday to accomplish something only its rival Michigan has done once in Big Ten history – win 17 straight conference road games.  The Wolverines hold the record set between 1988-92, but the Buckeyes seem poised to match the mark this weekend against Purdue in West Lafayette. The Buckeyes and Boilermakers have met 51 times previously on the football field, with Ohio State holding a 37-12-2 advantage in the series. Ohio State leads 12-6 in all games at Purdue and took last year’s meeting in Columbus by a 16-3 margin. 

Ohio State is averaging 29.7 points, 172.2 rushing yards and 166.2 passing yards per game this season, but has struggled as of late, including a disappointing offensive output against Wisconsin.  The Buckeyes did record the victory, but were outgained 368-184, managed only eight first downs, and had control of the ball for less than 18 of the 60 minutes.  OSU has been looking for the right solution to its offense all season.  The Buckeyes rate just 108th out of 120 teams in the country in passing, and QB Terrell Pryor was only 5-of-13 last week for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception.  But Pryor is an all-around player and does most of his damage on the ground.  In fact, the talented quarterback needs 36 yards rushing Saturday to become the fifth Ohio State QB to rush for 1,000 career yards.  When Pryor is not running the pigskin, Brandon Saine is the leader on the ground.  Saine has amounted 349 rushing yards so far, but was held to 55 yards on 14 carries against the Badgers.  In the air, Dane Sanzenbacher rates eighth in the Big Ten with 54.3 receiving yards per game.  On defense, Purdue is allowing a league-high 30.5 points and is 10th against the rush (167.3), having allowed the Big Ten’s most TDs (15) on the ground this season.  The Boilermakers have a minus-9 turnover margin, but most of the damage has been self-inflicted, stemming from an inconsistent offense.  Jason Werner leads all Purdue defenders with 8.3 tackles per game, while Ryan Kerrigan has added four solo sacks on the season.

Purdue’s 410.2 yards of total offense still ranks fourth in the league, but several turnovers have occurred deep in scoring territory and often has led to opponent’s scores.  Now the struggling offense will face a Buckeye unit that is allowing 271.8 yards and only 12.0 points per game.  That scoring figure ranks seventh-best in the country, while the defense’s rushing (89.2) and passing (182.7) averages are 12th and 30th, respectively. Senior quarterback Joey Elliot leads the Big Ten in passing and total offense with 262.5 yards per game through the air and 283.7 yards per game overall. Running back Ralph Bolden is second in the conference in rushing with 99.8 ypg while receiver Keith Smith is second in the Big Ten in both receptions (7.0) and yards per game (97.5).  The OSU defense will be hungry to face an offense that has turned the ball over 20 times this season, which has led to 71 points by the opposition.  Last week Kurt Coleman and Jermale Hines returned interceptions for touchdowns against Wisconsin.  Brian Rolle is Ohio State’s leading tackler with 51 total stops, including two for losses.


(1-3, 1-2 MEAC)

Delaware State at Michigan
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • Noon ET • Ann Arbor, Mich. • Michigan Stadium (106,201)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Craig Coshun, Mark Campbell, Brent Stover

Series: First Meeting

(4-2, 1-2 Big Ten)

After a heartbreaking loss to Iowa last week, Michigan returns to the Big House to polish off its non-conference schedule.  This will be the first meeting between the Wolverines and Delaware State.  The good news for the Hornets?  They are 2-0 all-time when playing in the state of Michigan.  In fact, in a win against Florida A&M at Detroit’s Ford Field in 2006, DSU played in front of a school-record crowd of 29,713.  There is expected to be a few more patrons in Ann Arbor on Saturday as Michigan Stadium holds 106,201.

DSU is coming off a 9-7 home loss to Bethune-Cookman, a game in which its offense was held to 95 yards on the ground and a season-low 166 yards of total offense.  The Hornets are averaging 265.0 total yards and 14.3 points each time out.  QB Anthony Glaud completes 58 percent of his attempts for nearly 145 yards per game, but was replaced by redshirt freshman Nick Elko last week, who threw for 39 yards on 5-of-15 passing in his collegiate debut. Darius Jackson paces the Hornets in receiving with 19 catches for 200 yards, while Tahree McQueen (168 yards) and Jaashawn Jones (71 yards) will share time in the backfield to replace the injured Jason Randall. Defensively, U-M ranks No. 84 in the nation in total defense, allowing 387.83 yards per game and 63rd in scoring defense (24.5).  Linebacker Obi Ezeh leads the Wolverines in tackling with 55 total stops, followed by Jordan Kovacs and his 42 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Defensive back Warren Donovan has picked off a team-high three passes while recording seven pass breakups this season.

The Michigan offense is averaging 376.5 yards and 33 points per game and will face a DSU defense that is allowing 392 and 15.8, respectively.  Of those 392 yards allowed per outing, Delaware State gives up more than 200 on the ground.  That may prove beneficial to a Michigan ballclub that saw quarterback Tate Forcier knocked out with a concussion last week and tailback Carlos Brown sidelined.  The Wolverines could opt to rest their talented freshman QB and opt for Denard Robinson, who prefers to tuck and run rather than pass.  Should Forcier and Brown play, Forcier will likely eclipse 1,000 passing yards for the season while Brown will improve on his team-high 336 rushing yards.  Brandon Minor is second on the team with 274 yards on the ground.  In the air, wideout Martavious Odoms has caught 18 passes for 213 yards and a score.  On the defensive side of the ball, Delaware State is led by linebacker Mike Gable, who has recorded 30 tackles this year.  Six different Hornets have registered at least one sack and the secondary has registered five interceptions.


(4-2, 2-1 Big Ten)

Minnesota at No. 14/13/13 Penn State
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • 3:30 p.m. ET • University Park, Pa. • Beaver Stadium (107,282)
ABC • Announcers: Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe

Series: Penn State leads 6-4 • Last Meeting: Oct. 7, 2006: Penn State 28, Minnesota 27 (OT)

(5-1, 1-1 Big Ten)

The Minnesota-Penn State series has been one of streaks over the past 10 years, with the Nittany Lions taking the first four games, the Golden Gophers winning the next four, and the Lions capturing the past two.  In the last contest in 2006, Penn State nearly escaped with a 28-27 win in overtime.  The Lions, coming off a 52-3 non-conference win over Eastern Illinois, will look to retain the Governor’s Victory Bell over a Gophers team that sealed a 35-20 Homecoming victory over Purdue last week.

All season long the Minnesota offense has been centered around quarterback Adam Weber and standout wideout Eric Decker, and for a perfectly good reason too.  Weber has been a do-everything QB while Decker is one of the nation’s top receivers.  But last week was different in the win over Purdue.  The Gophers completed only 5-of-10 passes for 74 yards, while turning their ground game loose.  Eight different Gophers ran the ball for a combined 207 yards and the passing game recorded its fewest attempts since 2002.  Still, the offensive unit that ranks 11th in the Big Ten with 319.7 yards per game will now face one of the nation’s top defensive units, which allows only 255.7.  In case Minnesota takes to the turf once again, PSU’s rush defense will look to improve on its 81.8 yards-per-game average.  The Lions also boast a scoring defense of 10.2 points per game, which ranks sixth in the country.  Josh Hull is third in the conference with 10.5 tackles each time out, while Jack Crawford (4.5) and Jared Odrick (4.0) lead the team in sacks.

Penn State’s offense is averaging 31.1 points per game and rank 23rd in the nation in total offense (427.5), 32nd in rushing (188.7) and 39th in passing (238.8).  Quarterback Daryll Clark (227.8) and Evan Royster (84.0) rank third in the conference in passing and rushing, respectively, while Derek Moye (58.7) is sixth in receiving.  The Lions’ offense has been improving over the season as it was somewhat sluggish in the first three games, but has rallied to average 533 total yards in the past two outings.  Minnesota’s defense is allowing 23.8 points, 218.5 passing yards and 162.7 rushing yards per contest.  The Gophers have three defenders ranked among the league’s top-10 tacklers, including Lee Campbell (2nd, 10.7), Nate Triplett (4th, 10.0) and Simoni Lawrence (10th, 8.3).  


(1-4, 0-3 Big Ten)

Illinois at Indiana
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 • 7 p.m. ET • Bloomington, Ind. • Memorial Stadium (52,692)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Matt Devlin, Anthony Herron

Series: Illinois leads 43-20-3 • Last Meeting: Oct. 18, 2008: Illinois 55, Indiana 13

(3-3, 0-2 Big Ten)

Indiana welcomes rival Illinois to Bloomington on Saturday for not just a Homecoming contest, but a game that both teams desperately need to win.  The Hoosiers are coming off a disappointing 47-7 non-conference road loss at Virginia last week, while the Fighting Illini remained winless in the Big Ten following a loss to Michigan State. Indiana has won three of the last four meetings between the two teams at Memorial Stadium and four of the last six. Illinois leads the overall series, 43-21-2, and owns a 14-12-1 mark in Bloomington.

Illinois fields a balanced offensive attack, but one that has struggled to find consistency this season.  UI averages 17.0 points, 167.6 rushing yards, 174.0 passing yards and 341.6 total yards per game.  Juice Williams is averaging 125.6 yards in the air but has managed just two touchdowns to four interceptions.  Last week he was replaced by junior Eddie McGee, who has appeared in all five games and has completed 21-of-41 for 242 yards, one TD and three INTs in addition to 74 rushing yards and two scores. Arrelious Benn leads the Illini with 13 receptions for 176 yards and Jason Ford is the team’s ground leader with 213 yards for a 9.3 per-yard average and one score.  In last year's 55-13 victory, Illinois posted 563 total yards, including 292 on the ground.  Williams had 271 yards in the air – 130 to Benn – and Ford rushed for a career-high 172 yards and three TDs on the ground.  Indiana’s defense saw a similar performance last week at Virginia.  IU gave up 259 yards on the ground and 305 in the air.  Those numbers ballooned the Hoosiers’ defensive averages to 136.7 and 233.8, respectively.  The good news for Indiana is that the Illini have allowed a league-high 17 sacks on the season and the Hoosiers’ potent combo of defensive ends Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew should be ready to attack the pocket.

IU is scoring 22.3 points each time out, while Illinois is surrendering 28.6 points per game.  The Hoosiers still depend more on the pass than the run, accounting for 226 of their 348.8 yards in the air, led by quarterback Ben Chappell.  The junior signal caller still owns one of the league’s best completion percentages at 64.0, but has now thrown seven picks to just five touchdowns on the year.  Wideout Tandon Doss is third in the league in both receptions (6.83) and receiving yards (91.0) per game.  Illini opponents are rushing for 185.6 yards, passing for 223.0 yards and compiling 408.6 total yards per game. Illinois has forced eight turnovers (three interceptions, five fumbles) and collected five sacks on the year.  Senior linebacker Ian Thomas heads the UI defense with 38 tackles, 17 solo, to go along with one sack and two tackles for loss. Sophomore cornerback Tavon Wilson has 36 stops and a team-best 26 solos with one interception and two TFLs.