PSU Schedule Breakdown

This week Penn State ran its record to 4-0 by winning a Big Ten opener for the first time since 1999. To do so, the Lions faced a good deal of adversity on the way to a thrilling come-from-behind 34-29 victory over Northwestern that was not decided until the final minute. In this series, FOS reviews the performance of all Lion opponents.

South Florida Bulls (3-1)

Wins: Losses
Florida A&M, 37-3
Central Florida, 31-14
#9 Louisville, 45-14
Penn State, 13-23
Next Up: at Miami (FL)

In what may be the biggest win ever for the South Florida football program, the Bulls shocked No. 9 Louisville by a score of 45-14, stopping the nation's third-longest Division I-A winning streak at nine games. South Florida now emerges as a dark horse contender for the Big East title in a conference which saw Pittsburgh struggle to an 0-3 record through the first three games of the season. A season-opening loss to the Nittany Lions remains the only blemish on the Bulls' record, with West Virginia (4-0) remaining as the only Big East team without a loss.

Louiville head coach Bobby Petrino, visibly disappointed at the outcome, must now figure out a way to regroup, with a team that many analysts considered to have an outside shot at the national title. Fresh from a 63-27 demolition of Oregon State Sept. 17, the Cardinals appeared poised to make short work of a badly depleted Big East. After the game, Petrino commented, "This is the type of game that challenges a team's leadership. We can either come together or fall apart."

Louisville will have an opportunity to regroup Oct. 1 against Florida Atlantic. The Bulls will find out just how far they have come since their opener in an Oct. 1 matchup at Miami (Fla.).

Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1)

Wins: Losses
Eastern Michigan, 28-26
Western Carolina, 7-3
Penn State, 24-42
Next Up: at Miami (OH)

The Bearcats had a bye week following a closer than expected 7-3 victory over Western Carolina Sept. 17. Cincinnati travels to in-state rival Miami (Ohio) Sept. 28 for a final tuneup before opening Big East conference play at Pittsburgh Oct. 8.

Central Michigan Chippewas (1-3)

Wins: Losses
Miami Ohio, 38-37 Indiana, 13-20
Penn State, 3-40
Eastern Michigan, 20,23
Next Up: at Akron

The Chippewas dropped a close game to cross-state rival Eastern Michigan in overtime, falling to 1-3 against a challenging schedule which featured Big Ten opponents Indiana and Penn State. Central Michigan fell to third place in the western division of the Mid-American conference, while Eastern Michigan climbed into the lead with a 1-0 conference mark and a 2-2 overall record.

Central Michigan erupted for an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter before Eastern Michigan answered with two touchdown passes from qb Matt Bohnet to claim a 14-13 lead at the half. After falling behind again in the third quarter, Eastern Michigan held on fourth down at their own 21 yard line, and drove for a tying field goal in the closing minutes to force the overtime period.

Northwestern Wildcats (2-2)

Wins: Losses
Ohio, 38-14
Northern Illinois, 38-37
#18 Arizona State, 21-52
Penn State, 29-34
Next Up: Wisconsin

The Wildcats appeared to reprise a familiar role as spoilers to the hopes and dreams of Nittany Lion fans in a thriller in Evanston. Driving the length of the field, Northwestern took the lead 7-0 on a Tyrell Sutton touchdown, and scored at least a field goal on their next four posessions as Penn State sputtered and misfired its way through the first half.

The Lions found enough life in the second quarter to remain in the game, scoring on big plays from Michael Robinson to Justin King, and later from Robinson to Deon Butler, overcoming a 10-0 first quarter deficit to trail by 23-14 at the half.

Led by linebacker Paul Posluszny, who recorded 22 tackles on the day, the Lion defense stiffened to shut down the Wildcats in the third quarter. The Lion offense could manage just three points in the quarter, however on a 25-yard Kevin Kelly field goal to pull within six, then closed to within three on a second Kelly field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats rallied for a field goal, but finally fell behind when Robinson burst through the line for an 8-yard TD with just under nine minutes remaining in the contest.

The Lion defense stiffened, stopping Northwestern on the ensuing series, and nearly padding the lead, when back to back holding calls moved the Wildcats dangerously close to their own end zone. On third down and long, a scramble by quarterback Brett Basanez appeared to be stopped, but a late-hit call against Chris Harrell at the end of the run gave the Wildcats new life as they drove the length of the field to regain the lead on a 25-yard field goal by Joel Howells with 2:10 remaining.

In a drive which evoked memories of the famous 1994 drive at Illinois by the Kerry Collins-led Lion team, Robinson played his finest series of the year, atoning for three interceptions and a lost fumble earlier in the game. In a critical fourth-and-13 situation, Robinson found tight end Isaac Smolko over the middle to keep the drive alive, and later found Derrick Williams for his first career touchdown to take the lead with 51 seconds remaining. Northwestern's last ditch effort fell short when Anwar Phillips picked off a Basanez desparation pass to end the seesaw fourth quarter.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0)

Wins: Losses
Tulsa, 41-10
Colorado State, 56-24
Florida Atlantic, 46-7
#11 Purdue, 42-35 (2OT)
Next Up: at Penn State

The Gophers continued their season long streak of putting up 41 points or more with a 42-35 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers, however it required two overtime periods to reach the 42-point mark. Laurence Maroney racked up a career-high 217 yards on 46 carries, as the Gophers defeated Purdue for the first time in eight games. Following the game, Minnesota quarterback Bryan Cupito said, "It feels great to win this game. We finally beat Purdue! I hope people start to realize that we're a legit team." Cupito threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns against three interceptions.

The Gophers carried a 20-14 lead into the fourth quarter, when a Kirsch pass to Andre Chattams gave the Boilers their first lead with 6:39 remaining on the clock. Purdue extended the lead to 28-20 on the next series when linebacker Dan Bick picked off Gopher QB Cubito and returned the interception for a 29-yard score. A furious 65-yard, 12-play drive by the Gophers culminated in an 8-yard scoring pass from Cupito to Matt Spaeth, setting up a two-point conversion to tie the game and force overtime.

#8 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1)

Wins: Losses
Miami Ohio, 34-14
San Diego State, 27-6
#21 Iowa, 31-6
#2 Texas 22-25
Next Up: at Penn State (Oct 8)

The Buckeyes used stifling defense to shut down No. 22 Iowa in a convincing Big Ten opener. Normally strong on the ground, the Hawkeyes could not establish a rushing game against a swarming Ohio State defense, finishing the game with minus-9 yards on the ground. Hawkeye quarterback Drew Tate fared little better, as he was sacked five times for minus-43 yards. and the Iowa offense, which normally averages 428 yards per game, managed just 137.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, referring Ohio Stat's concerns over its running game, said, "Any concerns they may have had offensively coming in, it looks like they cured them today."

Indeed the Buckeyes found a ground game, as tailback Antonio Pittman picked up 178 yards on 28 carries, while Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith added 127 yards on the ground on 18 carries to go along with 191 yards through the air. The Buckeyes finished with 530 yards of total offense in the winning effort.

#14 Michigan Wolverines (2-2)

Wins: Losses
Northern Illinois, 33-17
Eastern Michigan, 55-0
#16 Notre Dame, 10-17
Wisconsin, 23-20
Next Up: at Michigan State

The Wolverines have been anything but consistent in the opening weeks of the 2005 season. Following last week's 55-0 thumping of Eastern Michigan, the Wolverines appeared primed to roar into the conference schedule, and appeared well on their way as they jumped out to a 13-3 halftime advantage over Wisconsin. Barry Alverez and the Badgers had other ideas, however, as Wisconsin stormed back to score 17 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Michigan for the fist time since 1994, and hand the Wolverines only their second loss in their last 38 conference openers, and first conference-opening loss since 1981, a game also won by the Badgers.

For Alvarez, who will step down following the season, the win vindicates a career in which he had never defeated a Lloyd Carr-coached Wolverine team, carrying an 0-6 mark into the game. Badger OT Joe Thomas echoed the sentiments of many on the team following the victory, saying, "I know Lloyd Carr has really had his number. To get a win in his last year against Michigan is really special."

Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2)

Wins: Losses
Rutgers, 33-30
San Jose State, 40-19
#13 California, 20-35
#17 Michigan State, 14,61
Next Up: at Iowa

Many pundits across the country felt that Michigan State was due for a letdown following the Spartan's big overtime victory over Notre Dame in week three, and that the Fighting Illini, under first-year head coach Ron Zook, would be the team to hand the Spartans their first loss. It was not to be.

Michigan State took control early and never looked back, as the nation's fourth-ranked offense piled up 705 yards on the way to a 61-14 demolition of the Illini. "I apologize to all the Illini fans," said Zook, "We didn't coach very well, and we didn't play very well."

The Illini have dropped nine straight to the Spartans, who opened the season 4-0 for the first time since 1999. Illinois fell for the second straight week to a top-20 opponent, after opening the season 2-0.

#11 Purdue Boilermakers (2-1)

Wins: Losses
Akron, 49-24
Arizona, 31-24
Minnesota, 35-42
Next Up: #16 Notre Dame

Last week's Boiler hero Jerod Void was stuffed on a third and 1 at the Minnesota 17, and Brandon Kirsch's desparation fourth-down pass bounced off receiver Charles Davis' fingertips and dropped to the ground, as Purdue fell to the Golden Gophers for the first time in seven games. The win did not come easy for the Gophers, who trailed by eight late in regulation before a Minnesota touchdown, and two-point conversion by slow-footed Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito, followed a 65-yard drive that knotted the game with 1:34 remaining. Cupito himself was shocked at the play call that tied the game, entering the huddle and telling his teammates, "You guys aren't going to believe what they just called."

When asked for his reaction after the game, Cupito smiled and said, "Hey, it worked."

Purdue, which opened the season Sept. 10, steps outside the conference next week in a matchup with No. 16 Notre Dame before resuming Big Ten play Oct. 8 against Iowa.

Wisconsin Badgers (4-0)

Wins: Losses
Bowling Green, 56-42
Temple, 65-0
North Carolina, 14-5
#14 Michigan, 23-20
Next Up: Indiana

The Badgers became one of just four Big Ten teams to maintain an undefeated record through the first weekend of conference play, and answered several questions about their toughness by defeating No. 14 14 Michigan, just one week after appearing sluggish on offense in a 14-5 struggle against unranked North Carolina. The Badger offense finally broke out of its slump, erupting for 17 points in the fourth quarter to hand the Wolverines their second loss of the season.

"I was a little surprised by the call, but it was unbelievable," said Badger quarterback John Stocco, who scored the winning points with a 4-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining on the clock to deal Michigan its first loss in a Big Ten opener in 24 years. For the Wolverines, who have now dropped two games in three weeks, after holding the No. 3 ranking in the nation going into week two, many questions remain. For the Badgers, who celebrated their ninth consecutive home win before the second-largest crowd in Camp Randall Stadium history, many of those same questions have been answered.

#17 Michigan State Spartans (4-0)

Wins: Losses
Kent State, 49-14
Hawaii, 42-14
#16 Notre Dame, 44-41
Illinois, 61-14
Next Up: Michigan

The Spartans showed no sign of slowing down after their thrilling overtime victory over Notre Dame last week, spoiling Illini head coach Ron Zook's first Big Ten home opener in Champagne with a thoroughly dominating 61-14 victory.

Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton's five touchdown passes set a school record, and by piling up 705 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns, the Michigan State offense also set school standards.

A hotly contested 10-7 game at the end of the first quarter turned into a rout in the second as the Spartans exploded for 28 points. The Illini could not crack the scoreboard again until the outcome was already decided, as Illinois drove into the Michigan State red zone just twice during the game, scoring both times.

Michigan State averaged nearly nine yards per play in the blowout win, and will no doubt improve on it's No. 4 offensive ranking this week. The Spartans host in-state rival Michigan next week, and the Wolverines are reeling from two losses in their last three games.

Other Big Ten Games

#21 Iowa Hawkeyes (2-2)

Wins: Losses
Ball State, 56-0
Northern Iowa, 45-21
Iowa State, 3-23
#8 Ohio State, 6-31
Next Up: Illinois

The Hawkeyes have taken care of business against weaker competition, averaging more than 50 points per game against Ball State and Northern Iowa, but ordinarily known for punishing offensive lines and a powerful running game, the they have appeared punchless this season, scoring just nine total points against in-state rival Iowa State and Big Ten foe Ohio State. This week, the Hawkeyes were totally dominated by a stifling Buckeye defense, scoring only when the game had been decided, and then only managing two field goals in the second half.

"I couldn't get outside, I couldn't do anything," said Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, summing up the feelings and the day for an Iowa offense that managed only 70 yards through the first three quarters of the game.

The game took on the intensity of a heated rivalry, following Iowa's drubbing of the Buckeyes in 2004 by a score of 33-7. Ohio State center Nick Mangold remembered, saying, " "I hope Iowa left here today feeling the same way we did a year ago."

In no mood to discuss his team's performance, when asked about his biggest concern, Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz quipped, "Getting home safely."

Indiana Hoosiers (3-0)

Wins: Losses
Central Michigan, 20-13
Nicholls State, 35-31
Kentucky, 38-14
Next Up: at Wisconsin

Carrying a 3-0 record for the first time since 1994, the Hoosiers were idle this week, preparing for an Oct. 1 matchup of undefeated teams as the Hoosiers travel to Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Badgers.


Fight On State Top Stories