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October 20, 1999 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Thursddy October 21. 199 TeicgnDay-


brew tries to draw Heisman looks against Penn State

By Richard Haddad
For the Daily
For the second time this year, seven
Big Ten teams find themselves ranked
ithe Associated Press' Top 25. That
tistic probably won't stand for
long, as six of them go at it on
Saturday. Although the phrase has
become repetitive this October, this
week presents a slate of crucial
games, and the merciless Big Ten
schedule will continue to claim vic-
tims of its strength
No, 2 PENN STATE AT No. 16
PURDUE: Penn State faces its most
rmidable challenge yet this year in
eform of Drew Brees and Purdue's
offensive juggernaut. LaVar
Arrington and the rest of the Big
Ten's third-ranked defense look to
clamp down on the conference's top
offense and maintain its flawless
The Nittany Lions quelled any
doubts that were beginning to fester
by thouroughly dominating Ohio
kte on Saturday. Although the Lion
ense continued to struggle in the
red zone, the vaunted defense finally
played to its potential in a classic
example of good ol' smash-mouth
football. LaVar and friends served
brutal warnings to Purdue's receiving
corps through their treatment of Ohio
State's talented pass catchers, and Mr.
Arrington himself turned in his best
showing of the season in tripling his
rtevious sack output and giving
ortsCenter another installment of
the "LaVar Leap" to run repeatedly.
But Drew Brees' mouth has been
almost smash-proof, and he proved he
could produce in the rain against the
Spartans following two weather-
induced losses which put a hurting on
his stats. His record-setting after-
noon vaulted him back to the top of
the Heisman race. Purdue's defense
n played well, surrendering only
offensive touchdowns. But any
questions about Penn State's ground
game and run-blocking were emphat-
ically answered by Eric McCoo's 211
rushing yards, and despite having a
banged-up offensive line leading the
way, Purdue's defenders should
expect more of the same.
Lion quarterback Kevin Thompson
is questionable after suffering a sepa-
.rted shoulder last week, but Rashard
&sey played serviceably in relief.
Penn State needs to limit Purdue's
receivers' yards-after-the-catch and
keep Brees and wideout Chris
Daniels from exploding again. If
JoePa's troops can succeed in this

task, as well as overcome their
turnover problems and punch the ball
in from inside the 20, they should
leave West Lafayette unscathed in this
battle of the Joes. And if Penn State
can respond affirmatively to all of
those if's, Paterno will move into
third place all-time on the list of
coaching wins.
WISCONSIN: Everyone outside of East
Lansing knows that Michigan State
gets pumped for one game a year, and
on the rare occasion that State wins
that game, their season is a success
because of it. Just like everybody out-
side of East Lansing predicted, the
Spartans suffered an enormous post-
Michigan letdown as they were
scorched by Purdue, relinquishing
fantasies of an undefeated season and
national championship in the process.
At the other end of the spectrum,
Wisconsin is rolling, earning three
straight victories behind new quarter-
back Brooks Bollinger, including 42-
17 and 59-0 massacres of Ohio State
and Indiana, respectively. Bollinger's
success last week showed that con-
trary to popular opinion, the Badgers
can indeed pass. In addition, the
overlooked defense silenced Indiana's
top-ranked ground game in the Big
Ten's first shutout of the season
Before last week's events, this
matchup could have been hyped by
Spartan supporters (the most ignorant
and self-inflated of them, which does-
n't exclude many) as a showcase for
two Heisman candidates , but Bill
Burke's plummet to reality eliminated
that possibility. However, Ron Dayne
keeps rumbling on his way to the
career rushing record, putting up 167
yards, all in the first half, against
Nestled in between the Badgers'
two offensive shows lies an overtime
win against Minnesota. Michigan
State will try to shut down UW by
adhering to the blueprints from that
But Wisconsin's defense will con-
vince Bill Burke, beyond a doubt, that
he is not Steve Young or any other
left-handed slinger in the NFL. With
their running mass of humanity nulli-
fied, the Badgers will find a way to
manufacture enough points to prevail
in a defensive struggle If their out-
sized corners can control Plaxico
Burress, they'll keep the Spartans'
annual free-fall intact.

No. 22 Otto STATE Et No. 24
Can Minnesota actually be favored
against mighty Ohio State? Is it pos-
sible for the Golden Gophers to even
be ranked? The last time Minnesota
was good at anything, Bobby Jackson
was their star point guard. Maybe
their current success on the gridiron
is somehow related to former basket-
ball coach Clem Haskins and his
unique approach to education - pla-
giarism equals less time on papers
means more time for practice.
Whatever the cause, Minnesota is 5-1
on the year, and has established itself
as a force to be reckoned with in the
Big Ten.
Ohio State, on the other hand, is
faced with the proposition of going 1-3
in the conference for the first time
since 1988 - John Cooper's inaugural
season. They have been effectively
dropped from the BCS and Big Ten
title picture and have trailed in every
game this year. Last week, the
Buckeyes were manhandled by Penn
State, failing to score an offensive
touchdown and managing only 143
total yards. The dominating defense of
the past few seasons is hampered by
poor tackling, and backs Michael
Wiley, Jon Wells and Derek Combs are
all having trouble holding onto the ball,
resulting in 20 turnovers this season.
Minnesota posted a breakthrough
win in beating Illinois, 37-7, follow-
ing a heart-breaking overtime loss to
the same Wisconsin team that
thrashed Ohio State. Their defense
and exceptional special teams have
given them great field position, and
the offensive line's play resulted in
three players rushing for the century
mark last week.
Defensive end Karon Riley lead the
Big Ten's best pass rush against the
same Buckeye unit that was ravaged
in their last outing, allowing quarter-
back Steve Bellisari to be knocked
out of the game. Ron Davne couldn't
go anywhere on the Gophers defense,
and as evidenced by his 18 yards last
week, Michael Wiley doesn't figure
to do much better. Despite all of
these weaknesses, Ohio State still has
a chance to come out with the victory
behind the defensive leadership of
Na'il Diggs, Ahmed Plummer and
Damon Berry and attempt to salvage
what is left of a lost season.
But Minnesota will be motivated to
reach the six-win plateau needed to
earn an appearance in its first bowl
game since 1986 at home, and OSU's
See FOOTBALL, Page 20A

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