As the weather gets cooler around the Big Ten, conference play swings into full gear on the gridiron. Remarkable finishes highlighted last weekend”s play, but this weekend features a schedule full of mismatches.
Iowa (1-0 BigTen, 3-0 Overall) at No. 18 Purdue (1-0, 3-0), 12 p.m. (ESPN): Purdue returns home, after surviving a scare from Minnesota 35-27, thanks in part to a remarkable comeback. Led by quarterback Brandon Hance, who threw three touchdowns and caught another, the Boilermakers overcame an 11-point fourth quarter deficit.
This week, coach Joe Tiller and the Boilermakers play host to fellow unbeaten Iowa. The Hawkeyes kept Penn State coach Joe Paterno in search of his elusive record-tying victory this past Saturday, having their way with the Nittany Lions at home, 24-18.
The Hawkeyes, who hit the road for the first time, are led by senior quarterback Kyle McCann, who threw for 255 yards and one touchdown against a porous Nittany Lions defense.
Look for Iowa to have trouble with Purdue”s high powered offensive machine on the road as the Boilermakers will fine tune their engine for a homecoming date with the Wolverines.
Purdue 28, Iowa 14
No. 16 Northwestern (1-0, 3-0) at Ohio State (1-0, 2-1), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN): Newcomer Jim Tressel faces his first real conference test as the coach of Ohio State as the Buckeyes host the Wildcats.
In Ohio State”s win at Indiana, freshman Lydell Ross ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns, adding depth to the Ohio State backfield. Incumbent senior Jonathan Wells still starts at the tailback position and the duo hopes to offset the inconsistency of quarterback Steve Bellisari.
The Wildcats come off an improbable victory against Michigan State last week, winning the game on a 47-yard field goal as time expired. Quarterback Zak Kustok threw for 231 yards and rushed for a season high 105 yards, helping to overcome an unusually poor day for All-America running back Damien Anderson.
In the Big Ten”s biggest game of the day, Damien Anderson will dominate, and Northwestern, which has gotten off to its first 3-0 start since 1962, will stay unbeaten.
Northwestern 24, Ohio State 13
Minnesota (0-1, 1-2) at Illinois (0-1, 3-1): In a matchup of two teams reeling from disappointing losses last weekend, the Golden Gophers head to Champagne to face an Illinois team embarrassed this past Saturday.
Minnesota and coach Glen Mason feel cheated after what they deem poor officiating in the aforementioned classic against Purdue. Now they head on the road for an important game in an effort to save their season. The Gophers have been led by running back Tellis Redmon, who rushed for 152 yards against Purdue, and is on his way to another stellar 1,000-yard season, having already amassed 315 yards on the ground.
On the other hand, the Illinois defense was exposed by an unusually high powered Michigan offense in their 45-20 loss. Quarterback Kurt Kittner, who threw for 244 yards against the Wolverines, will look to get the Illini back on track.
Illinois needs to have this game, as it has dropped out of the top 25, and heads into a light part of their schedule it”s not facing another ranked team until November.
Illinois 37, Minnesota 21
Indiana (0-1, 0-3) at Wisconsin (1-0, 3-2): Indiana looks for its first win of the season as it heads to Madison to take on the grumpy Badgers.
The Hoosiers lost 27-14 last weekend to Ohio State, as senior quarterback Antwaan Randle El took snaps most of the way, finally airing it out and throwing for a season high 181 yards.
Wisconsin has won two in a row since starting the season 1-2. In last week”s win against Western Kentucky, quarterbacks Brooks Bollinger and Jim Sorgi split time, with Sorgi putting up slightly better numbers. Still the Badgers are led by the running the game, as freshman Anthony Davis has already garnered over 700 yards, following in the tradition of stand out running backs at Wisconsin.
This week look for Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez to continue working Bollinger back into the game slowly, and rely upon Davis, who will be more than enough against an inept Indiana defense.
Wisconsin 27, Indiana 10