Big Ten Football Preview: Week 9

Oct. 29, 2009


(4-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

Indiana at No. 4 Iowa
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Iowa City, Iowa • Kinnick Stadium (70,585)
ESPN • Announcers: Mark Jones, Bob Davie

Series: Iowa leads 39-27-4 • Last Meeting: Oct. 11, 2008: Iowa 45, Indiana 9

(8-0, 4-0 Big Ten)

After a heartbreaking loss at Northwestern last week, where Indiana allowed 26 unanswered points in the loss, the Hoosiers travel to Iowa to try to knock off the Big Ten's lone undefeated squad.  The Hawkeyes hold a 39-27-4 lead in the all-time series, but IU has won two of the last three, including a 38-20 decision in Kinnick Stadium to spoil Iowa's homecoming in 2007. Iowa, which won 45-9 a year ago in Bloomington, holds a 21-10-3 advantage in Iowa City, but Indiana has won on two of its last four visits.

Indiana and Iowa each rank eighth in the league with 23.6 points per game, and while the Hoosiers scored 28 points in last week's loss, they did so on big plays in the first half only to be shut out after halftime.  Darius Willis scored on a 70-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and IU was quickly off to a 21-0 start. Willis led Indiana with 103 rushing yards on 14 carries, while QB Ben Chappell completed 16-of-27 passes for 163 yards, well under his per-game average of 228.4.  Tandon Doss, who recorded six catches in the loss, ranks third in the Big Ten in receptions (6.75) and fourth in receiving yards (89.5) per game.  Iowa leads the country with 15 interceptions and sits in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin (sixth, plus-11), scoring defense (14th, 14.8), pass defense (17th, 174.3) and total defense (18th, 296.5). Senior linebacker Pat Angerer leads the team with 77 tackles while Jeremiha Hunter has 64 stops, two fumble recoveries and one pick.  Sophomore safety Tyler Sash shares sixth in the country with five interceptions and defensive end Adrian Clayborn is currently the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

Iowa also boasts an offense that centers around the pass and ranks just 10th in the league with 342.1 yards per game. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who marched the Hawkeyes down the field in the final seconds to shock Michigan State last week, averages 214.4 passing yards per contest and has thrown 12 TDs to 8 interceptions.  Junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos leads Iowa with 373 yards, 22 catches and one score, followed by senior tight end Tony Moeaki (251 yards, 21 receptions, four touchdowns), senior Trey Stross (303, 20, 1) and sophomore Marvin McNutt (301, 17, 3).  On the ground, Adam Robinson, who ranked fourth in the Big Ten with 78.6 rushing yards per game, is likely out for the season with an ankle injury. The redshirt freshman had 629 yards to date with five touchdowns and a 4.7 yards-per-rush average.  Indiana allowed 474 total yards to Northwestern last week to push its average back to 392.5, which ranks ninth in the league.  IU is last against the pass, giving up 246.6 yards in the air each time out.  The Hoosiers do boast a plus-6 turnover margin and have recorded nine fumble recoveries and nine interceptions on the year.  Austin Thomas has three of those picks and makes 5.8 stops each game.  Matt Mayberry ranks sixth in the league with 8.9 tackles per outing, while Jammie Kirlew has 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles this year.


(3-5, 2-2 Big Ten)

Purdue at Wisconsin
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • 11 a.m. CT • Madison, Wis. • Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
ESPN2 • Announcers: Pam Ward, Ray Bentley

Series: Wisconsin leads 39-29-8 • Last Meeting: Oct. 21, 2006: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3

(5-2, 2-2 Big Ten)

Purdue and Wisconsin meet Saturday for the first time since the 21st-ranked Badgers knocked off the Boilermakers 24-3 in West Lafayette in 2006.  Looking for its third straight win for the first time since opening the 2007 season, Purdue will try to hold off a Badger squad that was idle last week after dropping contests against Ohio State and Iowa.

Purdue racked up 386 total yards of offense in its win over Illinois and recorded zero turnovers for the first time this year.  The Boilermakers did considerable damage on the ground, posting 171 of their 220 rushing yards in the first half, which was more than their final total in six of its seven games played this season.  Jaycen Taylor finished the contest with 71 yards on six carries, QB Joey Elliott ran for 61 yards and a score and threw for another 166 yards, while Ralph Bolden, who is third in the Big Ten with 90.0 yards per game, scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.  In the air Keith Smith is pacing the conference with 7.38 catches and 96.4 receiving yards per game.  Purdue rates fourth in the league with 401.0 total yards per game, while Wisconsin is fourth by allowing just 326.0 yards each time out.  The Badgers' defense is fifth against the pass (211.4) and is allowing the most yards per catch (8.2) than any other school in the league.  Wisconsin is 10th in the conference with a pass defense efficiency rating of 135.1.  UW boasts a plus-2 turnover margin, led by Chris Maragos' three interceptions.  Mike Taylor leads the team with 6.6 stops per game, while O'Brien Schofield is first in the Big Ten with 16.5 tackles for loss and second with 6.5 sacks on the year.

Offensively Wisconsin is averaging 28.3 points, 184.4 rushing yards and 210.4 passing yards per game.  John Clay is the Big Ten's leading rusher with an average of 102.3 yards per game and QB Scott Tolzien has thrown for 1,436 yards and nine scores, while completing 64 percent of his passes.  Wideout Nick Toon paces the Badgers with 29 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns.  Purdue is allowing 26.9 points per game, which is 10th-best in the league, and 156.2 rushing yards per contest, which is ninth.  Jason Werner leads the team with 7.4 tackles per outing, followed by Joe Holland and Torri Williams at 6.6 and 6.4, respectively.  Ryan Kerrigan continues to pace the Big Ten with 7.5 sacks, while Werner ranks third with 14.0 TFLs.  Kerrigan has 12.0 stops behind the line on the year along with four forced fumbles, which rates second in the league.


(3-5, 1-3 WAC)

New Mexico State at No. 17 Ohio State
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • Noon ET • Columbus, Ohio • Ohio Stadium (102,329)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Matt Rosen, Anthony Herron

Series: First Meeting

(6-2, 4-1 Big Ten)

New Mexico State travels to Columbus to face Ohio State for the first time ever Saturday and just its third Big Ten opponent in program history.  Since the program began in 1894, the Big Ten has outscored the Aggies, 118-34, as the NMSU fell to Wisconsin, 69-13, in 1962, and 59-21 to Iowa in 1995. Now the Aggies faces an Ohio State ballclub fresh off a 38-7 victory over Minnesota.

New Mexico State is led on offense by a two-quarterback attack.  Trevor Walls is 2-2 as a starter, while Jeff Fleming is 1-3. Walls has thrown for 339 yards and two touchdowns, hitting 51.7 percent of his passes, while Fleming has passed for 492 yards and two scores and completed 52.5 percent. He has also rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on the year.  The Aggies have only passed for 103.9 yards per game, thus leaving the majority of the offense for the rush. Tailback Seth Smith is the leading man on the ground, rushing for 87.9 yards per game.  As a team, NMSU averages just 13.2 points per outing, while OSU is allowing 13.1 - the seventh-best mark in the country.  The Buckeyes own the nation's 10th-best rush defense (92.3) and enter the weekend with a plus-6 turnover margin, which ranks second in the Big Ten.  Brian Rolle leads the Buckeyes with 8.2 tackles per game, followed by Kurt Coleman and Ross Homan at 7.4 stops each. With three sacks against Minnesota, Thaddeus Gibson was named the Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

This season the Buckeyes, who are averaging 29.2 points overall, have been a balanced team through the air (182.1) and on the ground (171.1).  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has thrown for 1,408 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games for OSU, averaging 176 yards in the air, while also leading the rushing attack with 58.9 yards a game and five rushing touchdowns.  With Pryor sixth in conference rushing, his teammate Brandon Saine follows closely behind in seventh with 53.2 yards per outing.  DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher lead the receiving corps, as Posey has 38 catches for 516 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks seventh in the conference with 4.75 receptions and eighth with 64.5 receiving yards per game.  Sanzenbacher has recorded 19 catches for 388 yards and four touchdowns.  Defensively, NMSU junior Ross Connor ranks third in the WAC in tackles with 70 (8.8 tpg) while junior Jason Scott ranks sixth with 67 (8.4 tpg).  Pierre Fils and his six sacks will look to test an OSU offensive line that has allowed 14 sacks this year.


(5-3, 1-3 Big Ten)

Michigan at Illinois
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • 2:30 p.m. CT • Champaign, Ill. • Memorial Stadium (62,870)
ABC • Announcers: Craig James, Mike Patrick

Series: Michigan leads 66-22-2 • Last Meeting: Oct. 4, 2008: Illinois 45, Michigan 20

(1-6, 0-5 Big Ten)

Illinois is looking for a second consecutive win over Michigan on Saturday, having disposed of the Wolverines 45-30 in Ann Arbor last year.  That was quite the rarity in the all-time series as U-M owns an impressive 66-22-2 mark over the Fighting Illini, including a 31-11-1 edge in Champaign. The last meeting in Champaign was a 27-17 Michigan win in 2007, which marked the Wolverines sixth straight victory over Illinois prior to the streak ending last season.

Michigan continues to pace the conference in scoring offense (33.9) and rushing (219.4), while ranking second in total offense (404.5).  The Wolverines have struggled in the air and in the red zone this season.  Michigan ranks ninth in the league in passing (185.1) and red zone offense, converting just 24 of 32 scoring opportunities this year.  Tate Forcier is averaging 145.9 passing yards per game and finished last week's rain-soaked loss to Penn State 13-of-30 for 140 yards.  Carlos Brown (53.0) and Brandon Minor (46.0) rank eighth and 10th, respectively, in conference rushing.  Last week Greg Matthews led all Wolverines with team highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (70).  Defensively, Illinois allows conference-highs in scoring (27.7), rushing (185.3), total defense (415.9) and pass defense efficiency (136.6), and is ninth against the pass (230.6).  Linebacker Ian Thomas leads the team and ranks 11th in the Big Ten with 7.6 tackles per game. He had a career-high eight solo tackles last week at Purdue and had 10 total tackles to lead the Illini.

On offense, Illinois has struggled to find a spark.  The Illini are averaging only 16.1 points per game, which ranks 11th in the league, and boasts the league's least-productive passing attack (181.4).  Overall the Orange and Blue are totaling 353.3 total yards per game, including 171.9 on the ground, which rates fourth-best in the Big Ten.  Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure rushed for a career-high 122 yards on 15 carries last week against Purdue (8.1 yards per carry), including a career-long 65-yard run in the first quarter.  Through seven games, Illinois running backs are averaging 6.3 yards per carry, including a success rate of 7.9 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The quintet of Ford, Leshoure (6.5), Troy Pollard (6.4), Justin Green (6.7) and Daniel Dufrene (4.9) have rushed for 841 yards on 134 carries.  QB Juice Williams enters Saturday's contest 305 yards shy of 10,000 all-purpose yards for his career, which would leave him just outside the top five all-time in conference history.  Last year Williams passed for over 300 yards and rushed for over 100 at the Big House, marking the first time for the accomplishment in school history.  Wideout Arrelious Benn has 146 catches for 2,018 career yards in two-plus season at Illinois.  Michigan travels to Champaign this week with the conference's eighth-best overall defense (367.4) and the league's 10th-best passing defense (232.5).  In last week's loss to Penn State, Brandon Graham blocked a punt, assisted with a sack for a loss of eight yards and recorded seven tackles, including 3.5 for loss in the contest. Safety Mike Williams led the defensive effort with nine tackles and one pass break-up, while sophomore defensive tackle Mike Martin added eight tackles on the day.  Obi Ezeh paces the ballclub with 7.8 stops per game, which ranks ninth in the league.


(7-1, 3-1 Big Ten)

No. 12 Penn State at Northwestern
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • 3:30 p.m. CT • Evanston, Ill. • Ryan Field (47,130)
ESPN • Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Chris Spielman

Series: Penn State leads 9-3 • Last Meeting: Sept. 30, 2006: Penn State 33, Northwestern 7

(5-3, 2-2 Big Ten)

Penn State owns a 9-3 advantage over Northwestern in the all-time series, but the two teams have split their last four games.  The Wildcats captured the 2003 and 2004 contests, while the Nittany Lions took home victories in 2005 and 2006.  In that 2006 matchup, the last between the two teams, PSU's Michael Robinson tossed a 36-yard TD pass to Derrick Williams with 51 seconds left to lift the Lions to a 34-29 win.  Northwestern doesn't necessarily enter the weekend with that nail biter in mind after coming off a 29-28 thriller last Saturday where it scored 26 unanswered points at home to shock Indiana.

Penn State's offense comes in on the heels of a dominant 35-10 win over Michigan last week.  The Nittany Lions, who lead the conference in total offense (428.1) and time of possession (33:10), put up 396 yards against the Wolverines, including 230 in the air.  QB Daryll Clark was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the week after throwing four TD passes, three of them to Graham Zug, and completing 16-of-27 passes for 230 yards. Clark leads all Big Ten quarterbacks in passing efficiency with a 148.4 rating.  Wideout Derek Moye is sixth in the league with 65.6 receiving yards per game.  Tailback Evan Royster ranks second among conference rushers with 92.6 yards per outing.  Northwestern's defense is allowing 23.6 points, 220.2 passing yards and 117.9 rushing yards per game.  The Wildcats' unit was stunned last week after allowing a 70-yard TD run by Indiana on the first play from scrimmage.  NU held it together though and did not allow one Hoosier point after halftime, which included an important 4th-and-1 stand outside its goal line late in the game. Sherrick McManis has three interceptions on the year, Brad Phillips and Quentin Davie both have three forced fumbles to date and Nate Williams leads the team with 7.7 tackles per game.

And while Northwestern mustered only a field goal in the first half last week, the NU offense answered in the final 30 minutes of play with 26 unanswered points. Senior quarterback Mike Kafka helped engineer the school-record comeback by totaling 377 yards of total offense. He threw a pair of TD passes and ran for another as he played a role in all three Wildcat touchdowns.  Kafka leads the Big Ten with 284.1 all-purpose yards per game and guides a Wildcat offense that posts 27.2 points, 270.4 passing yards and 122.2 rushing yards each time out.  Kafka has really found a primary target in Zeke Markshausen, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 7.25 receptions and fifth with 69.1 receiving yards per contest.  Penn State has the conference cornered when it comes to defensive marks.  The Nittany Lions lead the league in scoring defense (8.9), total defense (240.2), rushing defense (79.8), passing defense (160.5) and sacks (26).  In fact, the Nittany Lions have surrendered just one first-half touchdown this season, that coming in their last game at Michigan.  Josh Hull is third in the conference with 9.9 stops per game, followed by Navorro Bowman (7.3) in 18th.  Jack Crawford owns 5.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss this year, while Bowman and Jared Odrick have each recorded 9.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage.


(4-4, 3-2 Big Ten)

Michigan State at Minnesota
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 • 7 p.m. CT • Minneapolis, Minn. • TCF Bank Stadium (50,720)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Rebecca Haarlow

Series: MSU leads 25-16 • Last Meeting: Nov. 11, 2006: Minnesota 31, MSU 18

(4-4, 2-3 Big Ten)

Saturday's matchup is the 42nd in the series between Michigan State and Minnesota with the Spartans holding a 25-16 advantage. The Golden Gophers have won the last two meetings and five of the last seven, but the two teams haven't faced off since 2006.

Offensively, Michigan State has maintained a highly-rated offense, but has struggled a bit with running the ball. The Spartans are 82nd in the nation in rushing offense (130.0), but are listed 22nd in passing (273.5), 39th in total offense (403.5) and 57th in scoring (27.2).  It was the Spartans' poised passing attack that allowed MSU to come within seconds of upsetting Iowa in East Lansing last weekend, but a late-second passing TD by the Hawkeyes with no time remaining left Michigan State stunned.  Now the Spartans face a Minnesota defense that allows 25.1 points and 229.6 passing yards per game.  For MSU, QB Kirk Cousins is seventh in the league with 188.5 yards per outing and has thrown a conference-low four interceptions on the season.  Blair White ranks third in receiving yards (91.2) and fifth in receptions (6.00) per game.  The Minnesota secondary, which is led by CBs Marcus Sherels and Traye Simmons and safety Kyle Theret, has recorded six interceptions on the campaign, with Theret notching his first INT of the season last week against Ohio State.  The Gopher linebacking corps has had at least one double-digit tackler in each game this year. Lee Campbell (11.2 tpg), Nate Triplett (9.6 tpg) and Simoni Lawrence (7.5 tpg) are the starters at LB. Up front, Eric Small leads the way with 23 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 3 sacks and a forced fumble on the year.

Minnesota suffered a huge hit this week when it learned All-America candidate and receiving threat Eric Decker has been lost for the season following an injury in the Ohio State game.  Decker was the Gophers' go-to guy and now with him out of the lineup, the league's least-productive offense (292.8) will need to look elsewhere for yards. Minnesota still has Adam Weber under center, but the QB has struggled this season with only 179.6 passing yards per game and a league-high 11 interceptions to a league-low six touchdowns.  The Gophers committed four turnovers in last week's loss to the Buckeyes, including three second half turnovers that were converted into 21 OSU points.  Freshman quarterback MarQueis Gray did show promise Saturday by completing 5-of-6 passing for 51 yards while rushing 11 times for 81 yards.  Defensively, the Spartans rank 24th nationally in rush defense (14.0) and 39th in both pass (229.6) and scoring defense (20.8).  MSU has allowed the most passing touchdowns (16) of any other Big Ten school this year.  Greg Jones continues to pace the league with 12.1 tackles per game and has recorded 5.0 sacks on the year. Jerel Worthy follows closely behind with 4.5 sacks this season.