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September 25, 1997 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-25

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1OA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 25, 1997

AROUND THE lIsTN
dig Ten out to prove itself as conference seaso

By Dan Lehv
For the Daily
With five teams in the Associated
Press top 25 and an overall record of
24-10, the Big Ten has asserted itself
as a conference to be reckoned with.
But maybe it's too early to say that,
considering teams like Iowa and Penn
State have played opponents that
would have trouble beating high
school practice squads.
It's time for the real season to open.
The Big Ten schedule kicks off this
weekend with three conference games
on the slate. Meanwhile, Ohio State
and Minnesota aim to improve on
overall records before starting Big Ten
play.
ILLINOIS (0-3) AT No. 11 IowA (3-
0): Illinois has won three of the past
four meetings between these schools.
This year, Iowa has a clear advantage
in the matchup. Iowa is undefeated
and shows no signs of slowing down,
especially at home. Illinois, on the
other hand, has been struggling.
The Fighting Illini have lost nine in
a row dating back to last season, their
longest losing streak in 26 years.
Illinois is still looking for its first win
under rookie coach Ron Turner. The
offense has looked better in recent
weeks, but Turner has still opted to
bench starting quarterback Mark
Hoekstra due to lack of production.
Iowa is red hot. The Hawkeyes have
outscored their opponents 183-36 in
their first three games - a 66-0 drub-
bing of Northern Iowa, a 54-16 win
over Tulsa and a 63-10 victory over
Iowa State.
Iowa is first in the nation in total
offense and ninth in total defense.
Running back Tavian Banks leads the
country in rushing and scoring, aver-
aging more than nine yards per carry.
The passing attack is also on target.
Quarterback Matt Sherman is second
in the country in passing efficiency.
Even worse for Illinois, wide receiver
and Heisman Trophy hopeful Tim
Dwight woke up last week, catching
eight passes for 187 yards and scoring
three touchdowns. Illinois's top
receiver, Lenny Willis, has 13 recep-
tions for 142 yards - in just three
games. Illinois will need to find some
way to stop Iowa's many offensive
weapons.
This game could get ugly.
Iowa 56, Illinois 13
INDIANA (1-2) AT WISCONSIN (3-1):
The Hoosiers make the trip north to
Camp Randall Stadium to face a reju-
venated Wisconsin team. The Badgers
have quietly won three in a row after
losing in the Kickoff Classic to
Syracuse, 34-0. Indiana comes in with
a bad taste in its mouth following a
49-7 loss at the hands of Kentucky.

The Hoosiers have plenty of offen-
sive weapons, but they were all
stopped by the Wildcats. Sophomore
quarterback Jay Rodgers threw three
interceptions, and freshman receiver
O.J. Conner came up with only one
catch for nine yards in the game.
Sophomore running back Jason Spear
also struggled, carrying 12 times for
only 31 yards. These players must be
heard from for Indiana to have any
chance this week.
Wisconsin has been led by running
back Ron Dayne, who is averaging
more than 7.5 yards per carry.
Quarterback Mike Samuel has been
on target, completing 18 of 22 passes
over the past two games. The Badgers'
defense has given up only 10 points in
each of the past two games and is led
by linebacker Donnel Thompson.
Indiana will bounce back this week,
but the Hoosiers will not play well
enough to knock off the Badgers at
home.
Wisconsin 34, Indiana 21
HOUSTON (0-3) AT MINNESOTA (2-
1): Houston, a Conference USA team,
meets Minnesota for the first time.
Houston is 2-3 all-time versus the Big
Ten, while Minnesota is 2-0 against
Conference USA members.
The running game has been the only
bright spot for the Cougars, highlight-
ed by running backs Ketric Sanford
and Vaughn Innis. The problem this
year has been a missing defense, giv-
ing up a total of 112 points in three
games.
Minnesota's problem has been a fal-
tering offense that is ranked 106th out
of 112 Division I-A teams. Senior
quarterback Cory Sauter has only
passed for 315 yards in three games,
and the Gophers barely held on to beat
Memphis, 20-17, last week. The play-
er to watch on the Gophers is wide
receiver and kick returner Tutu Atwell,
who has returned two kickoffs for
touchdowns this season.
This game may be worth watching
if Houston gets to have the ball all
game. That way fans don't have to see
a lowly Houston defense face an even
worse Minnesota offense.
Big Ten still beats Conference USA.
Minnesota 26, Houston 20
NORTHWESTERN (2-2) AT PURDUE
(2-1): This week's most appetizing
game takes place in West Lafayette
and features the struggling Wildcats.
against the upstart Boilermakers.
Two weeks ago Purdue beat Notre
Dame, 28-17. Could the Boilermakers
be smelling roses?
Get real. But it should turn out to be
this week's most competitive confer-
ence game.
Northwestern scored 34 points last
week and lost. No one knows what to

begins
expect when Northwestern takes the
field. Running back Adrian Autryvrill
need to assert himself on the gro nd
to make receiver Brian Musso mo f
a threat. The Wildcats hope to t
another big game from lineb<ker
Barry Gardner, the leader of be
Northwestern defense. But the ec-
ondary is depleted by two injuredcor-
nerbacks, which should proimpt
Purdue quarterback Billy Dickeni to
put the ball in the air more ofter
The Boilermakers' defense has ben
solid, surrendering only 180 total
yards last week. Running back Ed
Watson and wide receiver B
Alford are the main offensve
weapons.
Who wins this game depends on
what type of game it is. A high scr-
ing contest will give the advantage to
Northwestern, but a close game Will
favor Purdue.
Purdue wins at home.
Purdue 28, Northwestern 23
No. 7 OHIO STATE (3-0) .AT
MISSOURI (2-1): John Cooper it
especially happy with the way the
Buckeyes won their first three games
of the season. And an upset Cooper
means trouble for Missouri.
Ohio State got a minor scare rast
week from Arizona and their Desert
Swarm Defense, but Missouri doesn't
have a defense with a cool nicknafie.
Ohio State's offense is based aro'd
its two quarterbacks, Stanley Jackon
and Joe Germaine. Jackson leftjt
week's game in the third quarter
a sprained left knee, but he shouleb
fine this week. The same goes for
Andy Katzenmoyer, the star line-
backer who sprained his right ankle
against Arizona.
The Buckeyes have not played ms-
take-free football, fumbling 10 times
in their first three games. Michael
Wiley has turned into the Buckeyes
top running back and is avera
almost eight yards per carry - w4
he holds onto the ball. He committed
two second-half fumbles against
Arizona, helping the Wildcats creep
back into the game.
Missouri is coming off a 42-21 vjc-
tory at Tulsa. The Tigers are led by
quarterback Corby Jones, who is a
threat to run or pass. Jones leads
Missouri in rushing, but the passIng
game has been lacking. Missou' s
leading receiver, Eddie Brooks, .
only 75 yards in three games. The
defense is progressing, but the Tigers
haven't exactly faced an offense of
Ohio State's caliber. Missouri does
have one bright spot on defense, how-
ever- cornerback Shad Criss, who is
a true NFL prospect.
The Tigers are tamed.
Ohio State 35, Missouri 10

SARA STILLMAN/Daily
Mike Hawthorne and the rest of the Boilermakers aren't used to being favorites. But after a surprising 24 start, Purdue finds Itself
in a strong position as it opens its Big Ten season against another team used to being the underdog - Northwestern.

_

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