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2007 Purdue Boilermakers

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Purdue Boilermakers Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews


2007 Purdue Boilermakers

2007 Recap: The Boilermakers were a product of their competition in 2007, winning the games they were supposed to, and losing to the better opponents on the schedule.  As has been the case for the past few seasons, Purdue went only as far as its quarterback, Curtis Painter, would take them, often struggling when the defense allowed too many long drives and too much real estate on the ground.  The Boilers’ only two wins against bowl qualifiers were versus Central Michigan, once in West Lafayette and once in a Motor City Bowl shootout.

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Dorien Bryant

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Cliff Avril

Biggest Surprise: Purdue was supposed to beat Iowa on Oct. 20, but not by 25 points.  The Boilermaker defense delivered its best game of the season, limiting the Hawkeyes to 254 yards and a pair of Daniel Murray field goals, the fewest points scored by Iowa in this series since 1976.

Biggest Disappointment: The Boilermakers went 0-for-November, losing to Penn State, Michigan State, and Indiana in successive weeks to settle for the Big Ten’s least desirable bowl slot.  Losing the Old Oaken Bucket to the Hoosiers on a last-minute field goal was easily Purdue’s most painful loss of the 2007 campaign.

Looking Ahead: Pulling a Wisconsin, Purdue has already decided on Joe Tiller’s successor in 2009, former Eastern Kentucky head coach Danny Hope.  It’ll give the players and coaches a full year to get acclimated to the new sheriff in town.  With Painter back for one more season, the Boilermakers will once again be an offensive-driven team that needs more support from Brock Spack’s defense.      

- 2007 Purdue Preview
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2007 Purdue Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
2007 Record: 8-5

Sept. 1 at Toledo W 52-24
Sept. 8 Eastern Illinois W 52-6
Sept. 15 Central Mich W 45-22
Sept. 22 at Minnesota W 45-31
Sept. 29
Notre Dame W 33-19
Oct. 6 Ohio State L 23-7
Oct. 13 at Michigan L 48-21
Oct. 20 Iowa W 31-6
Oct. 27
Northwestern W 35-17
Nov. 3 at Penn State L 26-19
Nov. 10
Michigan State L 48-31
Nov. 17 at Indiana L 27-24
Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26 Central Mich W 51-48

Dec. 26
2007 Motor City Bowl
Purdue 51 ... Central Michigan 48

Purdue avoided a colossal collapse marching 39 yards in seven plays in the final minute leading to a 40-yard Chris Summers field goal to finally put CMU away. The Boilermakers, led by Curtis Painter, who finished with 546 passing yards, held a 34-10 halftime lead and was up 41-20 midway through the third, but CMU's Dan LeFevour led the comeback with a 28-point third quarter, starting off with a 76-yard Antonio Brown touchdown in the first minute, and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Anderson with 1:09 to play to tie it at 48 before Painter marched the Boilermaker offense in a position to win. Anderson caught three touchdown passes on the day, while LeFevour ran for two scores and threw for four. Purdue got up early helped by two one-yard Kory Sheets touchdown runs and a 62-yard touchdown catch from Dustin Keller. Purdue cranked out 587 yards of total offense to 435
Offensive Player of the Game: Purdue QB Curtis Painter completed 35 of 54 passes for 546 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions
Defensive Player of the Game: Central Michigan LB Nick Bellore made 11 tackles, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 35-54, 546 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 12-27, 2 TD. Receiving: Greg Orton, 9-136, 1 TD
Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 17-34, 292 yds, 4 TD
Rushing:
Dan LeFevour, 33-114, 2 TD. Receiving:
Bryan Anderson, 7-129, 3 TD
Notes & Thoughts ... Central Michigan's secondary was awful all year long. Curtis Painter was able to throw without a problem with little pass rush to worry about and receiver after receiver getting behind the D. It also helped that the Chippewa defensive back seven couldn't tackle in the first half. ... CMU's Dan LeFevour became just the second player, Florida's Tim Tebow the other, to run and throw for 20 touchdowns in the same season. ... Yeah, Purdue broke its bowl drought and ended the season on a high note, but to struggle to survive against a MAC team it already beat by 23 earlier in the year isn't exactly impressive. If the Boilermakers had choked away the loss, would Joe Tiller be on a red hot seat or would he be gone? ... Defense schmefense. This is what you want in a bowl game. High-octane offense, lousy defense, and a game that goes right down to the wire.

Nov. 17
Indiana 27 ... Purdue 24
Austin Starr nailed a 49-yard field goal with 30 seconds to play to halt a late Purdue rally and get the win. The Hoosiers got up 24-3 helped by two Kellen Lewis touchdown runs and an eight-yard pass to James Hardy, but the Boilermakers roared back with two one-yard scoring runs from Kory Sheets and a five-yard Jake Standeford catch coming with just under four minutes to play. A last gasp drive never got going.
Player of the game: Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 23 of 39 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown with an interceptions and ran 13 times for 30 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 28-45, 281 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jaycen Taylor, 13-53. Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 9-53
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 23-39, 216 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Marcus Thigpen, 19-140. Receiving: James Hardy, 10-87, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It took too long to get the offense on track against Indiana, and by the time it did, the defense couldn't come up with one more big stop to get the Hoosiers out of field goal range. The running game was never established because it didn't have time after the first 20 minutes, and Curtis Painter didn't generate enough big plays down the field. Even with the loss and the lousy three-game losing streak to end the season, Iowa and Northwestern losing means the Boilermakers are still going bowling.

Nov. 10
Michigan State 48 ... Purdue 31
Michigan State took advantage of three Purdue turnovers, breaking the game open in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard Travis Key fumble return for a touchdown, and putting it away with a three-yard Eric Andino catch. Jehuu Caulcrick ran for two short scores for the Spartans, and Brian Hoyer threw for two scores and ran for a one-yard run. MSU needed to keep putting points on the board with Purdue's offense cranking out 517 yards. Curtis Painter ran for touchdowns from 27 and seven yards out and threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Kory Sheets, but it wasn't nearly enough. MSU held on to the ball for 38:18.
Player of the game: Michigan State WR Devin Thomas caught ten passes for 116 yards
Stat Leaders: Michigan State - Passing: Brian Hoyer, 22-31, 266 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Javon Ringer, 23-86. Receiving: Devin Thomas, 10-116
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 29-45, 344 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Kory Sheets, 6-80, 1 TD. Receiving: Dustin Keller, 7-51

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Purdue's offense woke up, but the defense couldn't handle Michigan State's efficiency, and three turnovers proved to be way too much to overcome. Now on a two-game losing streak after getting bowl eligible, a win over Indiana is a must to ensure a good bowl spot. It's in, but it might not get a primetime bowl without an impressive performance. As long as the turnovers stop, the offense should be able to blast its way by the Hoosiers with Curtis Painter getting hot at the right time.

Nov. 3
Penn State 26 ... Purdue 19
Dorien Bryant took the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but that was the last time the Boilermakers would see the end zone with Chris Summers connecting on field goals from 45, 28, 50 and 37 yards out. Penn State's running game rumbled for 251 yards, with Evan Royster sealing the win late in the fourth on a 26-yard dash. WR Derrick Williams scored on a 12-yard run and catching a five-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Morelli.
Dan Connor became Penn State's all-time leading tackler after making 11 stops.
Player of the game: Penn State LBs Sean Lee and Dan Connor combined for 23 tackles with Lee forcing two fumbles.
Stat Leaders: Penn State - Passing: Anthony Morelli, 22-35, 210 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Evan Royster, 21-126, 1 TD. Receiving: Derrick Williams, 10-95, 1 TD
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 27-48, 255 yds
Rushing:
Kory Sheets, 8-43. Receiving: Selwyn Lymon, 6-78
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Boilermaker offense was able to get in position to take control of the game against Penn State, but failed to do it time and again. Settling for field goals, losing a costly fumble, and getting nothing from the running game equaled a loss, but overall, this wasn't a bad game considering it was Penn State's Senior Day. Now Purdue gets to show if it belongs in the upper-part of the Big Ten with Michigan State and Indiana ahead. Win those two games, and a ten-win season is possible with a victory in the bowl game. To get there, the run defense has to tighten up in a big hurry. Penn State moved way too easily on the ground.

Oct. 27
Purdue 35 ... Northwestern 17
Purdue got 220 rushing yards and a big day from Jaycen Taylor, who tore off 157 yards and two one-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter. Northwestern turned it over four times and didn't get its running game going, but it went on a 17-point run with Omar Conteh rushing for an 11-yard score and a 15-yard Eric Peterman touchdown catch, but the Boilermakers owned the fourth quarter pulling away with a 21-yard Dorien Bryant scoring grab. The Boilermakers held on to the ball for 11:46 in the fourth.
Player of the game: Purdue RB Jaycen Taylor ran 20 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pass for 14 yards.
Stat Leaders: Northwestern - Passing: C.J. Bacher, 20-39, 208 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Tyrell Sutton, 12-72. Receiving: Kim Thompson, 5-64
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 24-38, 182 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Jaycen Taylor, 20-157, 2 TD Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 7-65, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... So this is going to be the way Purdue rolls. Beat up the average teams, lose to the top teams, have a good record. At 7-2, the Boilermakers don't have anything to apologize for, and it did a great job of adjusting and adapting in the win over Northwestern, but it's going to need to be razor-sharp to win at Penn State next week. The key will be catching the Nittany Lions, who could be down after the loss to Ohio State, early. Keeping Jaycen Taylor and the running game going will be a must.

Oct. 20
Purdue 31 ... Iowa 6
Purdue pulled away from a punchless Iowa with a 33-yard Dorien Bryant touchdown catch late in the third quarter to spark a 17-0 run. Bryant also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and Dustin Keller scored from 14 yards out in the first as the Boilermakers were never threatened. Iowa managed just 254 yards of total offense and two field goals.
Player of the game: Purdue WR Dorien Bryant caught nine passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Iowa - Passing: Jake Christensen, 17-40, 177 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Albert Young 7-44. Receiving: James Cleveland, 7-101
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 29-48, 315 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Kory Sheets 18-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 9-167, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
And the slide quickly stops. After struggling so much against Michigan and Ohio State, the Boilermaker offense got on the board early, kept the pressure on with Dorien Bryant having a big day, and let defensive line take care of the rest. The Boilermakers got into the Iowa backfield early and often, and the outcome was never really in doubt. Against Northwestern and its hot offense, the defense has to continue to hit the quarterback and has to force mistakes.

Oct. 13
Michigan 48 ... Purdue 21
Mario Manningham had a career day with 147 yards and touchdown catches from 24 and 21 yards out as Michigan got out to a 48-7 lead before the Boilermakers scored two touchdowns in the final 47 seconds. Mike Hart ran for two first half touchdowns to help the game get out of hand, and then Carlos Brown put it well out of reach in the fourth quarter on touchdown runs from 29 yards and one yard out. Purdue only gained 292 yards of total offense and turned it over four times.
Player of the game: Michigan WR Mario Manningham caught eight passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Joey Elliott, 12-19, 140 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 4-19. Receiving: Dustin Keller, 7-68
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 21-28, 264 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Mike Hart, 21-102, 2 TD. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 8-147, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... There's no shame in losing to both Ohio State and Michigan, but to get blown out so badly so early, and to need late scores to make the two games look closer than they really were, isn't a plus. Fine, so Purdue is going to be one of those teams that beats the ones it's supposed to and can't handle the better teams. Considering Penn State is the only game left that the Boilermakers shouldn't be able to deal with, that's not all that bad. Now there has to be a big turnaround next week against Iowa, and it has to start with the running game. Kory Sheets hasn't been able to get going over the last two weeks, and the offense has broken down.

Oct. 6
Ohio State 23 ... Purdue 7
Ohio State held the high-powered Purdue offense to just 272 yards, while stuffing the running game allowing four net yards. Todd Boeckman threw three interceptions, but he also threw two first quarter touchdown passes, connecting with Ray Small for a 26-yard score, and Brian Hartline for a six-yard touchdowns. The Buckeyes were never threatened, getting up 23-0 on Ryan Pretorius field goals from 44, 39 and 23 yards out. Purdue didn't get on the board until there were ten seconds to play on a one-yard Jeff Lindsay catch.
Player of the game: Ohio State S Chimdi Chekwa made ten tackles and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 31-60, 268 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 7-20. Receiving: Greg Orton, 10-91
Ohio State - Passing: Todd Boeckman, 17-29, 200 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing:
Chris Wells, 18-85. Receiving: Brian Robiskie, 5-99, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's not time to start panicking that the first five games might have been a mirage. Ohio State's defense is playing as well as any in America right now, but to only generate a garbage time touchdown, and to get absolutely nothing from the ground game at home, simply isn't what the team was hoping for in a nationally televised statement game. Michigan is very, very beatable right now, so if the Boilermakers can quickly regroup, they should be able to go on a nice run. Second in the Big Ten is still very possible, and the Rose Bowl isn't out of the question by winning out.

Sept. 29
Purdue 33 ... Notre Dame 19
Purdue added to Notre Dame's misery as Kory Sheets scored from one-yard out, Dorien Bryant caught an 11-yard touchdown pass, and Chris Summers nailed three field goals on the way to a 23-0 halftime lead. Notre Dame opened the scoring in the second half on Jimmy Clausen's first career touchdown pass, hitting John Carlson from five yards out, and got within seven on two Evan Sharpley touchdown passes. The Boilermakers got comfortably ahead with a 14-yard Dustin Keller scoring grab.
Player of the game: Purdue RB Kory Sheets ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, and had a reception for eight yards.
Stat Leaders: Notre Dame - Passing: Evan Sharpley, 16-26, 208 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Armando Allen, 6-25. Receiving: Robby Parris, 7-93
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 22-37, 252 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing:
Kory Sheets, 27-141, 1 TD. Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 8-82, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... There has to be a little bit of a concern over how the defense let Notre Dame back into the game in the second half, and there will be some yelling this week in practice over how the offense didn't keep its foot on the gas after halftime, but 5-0 is still 5-0, and now the Boilermakers are coming into the two-game make-or-break part of the schedule against Ohio State and Michigan as hot as can be. That the Boilers pulled this off without getting a huge game from Curtis Painter and the passing attack might actually be a plus as the season goes on.  

Sept. 22
Purdue 45 ... Minnesota 31
Purdue started out hot with a 95-yard opening kickoff return for a score from Desmond Tardy, and got up 17-0 helped by a 16-yard Kory Sheets touchdown catch. After a 43-yard Cliff Avril interception return for a touchdown, and 24-3 halftime lead, the rout appeared to be on. But Minnesota fought back with short touchdown runs from Duane Bennett and Jay Thomas, but the Boilermakers kept pace with a three-yard Sheets run and a four-yard Dorien Bryant scoring grab. Bryant's 16-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter finally put it away.
Player of the game: Purdue WR Dorien Bryant caught 12 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Minnesota - Passing: Adam Weber, 23-44, 237 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Duane Bennett, 7-81, 1 TD. Receiving: Eric Decker, 7-79, 1 TD
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 33-48, 338 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Kory Sheets, 21-111, 1 TD. Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 12-150, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense struggled a bit, especially in the second half against Minnesota, but the offense always kept the game out of reach. Curtis Painter is red hot, spreading the ball around well while finally utilizing his big-play star in Dorien Bryant for a huge day. Kory Sheets remains a key unsung cog in the mix with yet another strong all-around game. Now the real fun begins. If this team is as good as it should be, considering the way the first month has gone, it should roll over Notre Dame at home. Then comes Ohio State. Then comes Michigan. The offense has to stay mistake-free and balanced, while the the run defense needs to stiffen up quickly.

Sept. 15
Purdue 45 ... Central Michigan 22
Purdue jumped out to a 38-0 lead helped by two Curtis Painter touchdown passes, Kory Sheets touchdown runs from 17 and seven yards, and a 19-yard Jaycen Taylor score. Central Michigan bounced back with 22 second half points with Justin Hoskins scoring twice and Justin Gardner scoring from 14 yard out, but the Boilermakers stopped the threat with a five-yard Selwyn Lymon touchdown catch. The teams combined for 1,048 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Purdue QB Curtis Painter was 29-of-39 for 360 yards and three touchdown passes.
Stat Leaders: Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 35-56, 364 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Ontario Sneed, 14-41. Receiving: Bryan Anderson, 10-101
Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 29-39, 360 yds, 3 TDs
Rushing:
Kory Sheets, 21-144, 2 TDs. Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 6-95

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It was nearly a perfect game for Purdue. The offense rolled with ease on Central Michigan, let up off the gas, and then put it away without a problem. Basically, the team played well, but the coaching staff can still be ticked off all week before facing Minnesota. QB Curtis Painter is making every right decision and continues to spread the ball around extremely well, but it's Kory Sheets and the running game that's making the offense hum so efficiently.

Sept. 8
Purdue 52 ... Eastern Illinois 6
Purdue rolled for 533 yards and Curtis Painter threw six touchdown passes on the way to a layup of a win. EIU managed just two short field goals and was held to just 236 yards of offense. The Boilermakers held a 31-3 halftime lead helped by two Dustin Keller touchdown catches in the second quarter and scoring grabs from Jake Standeford and Greg Orton. Painter fount Dorien Bryant early in the second half and tight end Jason Wasikowski for a one-yard score early in the fourth.
Player of the game ... Purdue QB Curtis Painter completed 38 of 49 passes for 348 yards and six touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 38-49, 348 yds, 6 TD
Rushing: Jaycen Taylor, 16-85   Receiving: Dorien Bryant, 12-111, 1 TD
Eastern Illinois - Passing: Cole Stinson, 15-32, 143 yds
Rushing:
Travorus Bess, 11-67   Receiving: Micah Rucker, 6-74

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Eastern Illinois was the ultimate tune-up game. The Panther defense didn't have a prayer of stopping the Purdue offense, and Curtis Painter made sure of it with a fantastic day. He spread the ball around to all of his weapons extremely well, and he did everything right to keep the chains moving with the offense going ten of 18 on third downs. As long as Painter gets time, he's deadly.


Sept. 1
Purdue 52 ... Toledo 24
Curtis Painter threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers highlighted by a 80-yard play by Dustin Keller for an early 14-7 lead. The Rockets tied it up on a four-yard Jalen Parmele touchdown run, but Purdue would answer with a 24-point run to put the game away. Even when the Rockets showed a sign of life, like with a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers responded as Dorien Bryant returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Player of the game ... Purdue QB Curtis Painter completed 14 of 30 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns and ran twice for three yards
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 14-30, 244 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 11-90, 1 TD  Receiving: Dustin Keller, 3-107, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Clint Cochran, 9-14, 83 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Jalen Parmele, 24-93, 1 TD   Receiving:
Nick Moore, 5-44
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... How good is Purdue's offense? Curtis Painter had an off day against Toledo and it still cranked out 52 points and 488 yards. Painter might have misfired early on, but he soon found his groove, spreading the ball around well to his vast array of weapons. If the attack hums like it did this week, a 5-0 start if more than possible before dealing with Ohio State. Toledo might not be great, but this was still a much-needed blowout after the bowl game flop to Maryland to end 2006.

Sept. 1 – at Toledo
Offense: Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2 linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.


Sept. 8 – Eastern Illinois

Sept. 15 - Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Defense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.

Sept. 22 – at Minnesota
Offense: New offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar and his spread offense might seem like a radical departure for the Gophers, but the pieces are there, for the most part, for the thing to work right away with small, athletic linemen, quick running backs, and big receivers. The one thing missing is a steady quarterback who can hit the open receiver on a regular basis, meaning the Tony Mortensen vs. Adam Weber battle will go on until fall. Basically, the offense will undergo a change to achieve the same rushing results with a less effective passing game.
Defense: What the Gophers lack in talent they'll try to make up for in intensity and experience. For good and bad, ten starters return along with loads of experienced reserves to give hope for a big jump in overall production after finishing 113th in the nation in defense. However, there was a method to the old coaching staff's madness as the D allowed yards, but went for the big play forcing 32 turnovers. The new regime will be far more aggressive and take far more chances; they can do that with a veteran group like this. The linebacking corps will be the strength, while Willie VanDeSteeg and the line should get into the backfield more often. Can the Gophers shut down a power running attack or a high-octane passing game? No and no, but it'll be better in all phases.


Sept. 29 - Notre Dame
Offense: Yeah, Charlie Weis is a great offensive coach, but there's some serious rebuilding needing to be done. There are good prospects, but there are several major concerns and no proven production. Can the line be better despite losing three starters? Will the skill players be remotely close to as good as the Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker foursome of last year? Are the quarterbacks ready? The quarterbacks appear to be fine, the running backs will be solid in a combination, and the receivers are fast and decent. The line will be a plus by the end of the year, but it'll be a problem early on.
Defense: Charlie Weis is trying to improve a defense that was fine against the mediocre, but lousy when it came to stopping the better offenses. Gone is defensive coordinator Rick Minter, and in comes Corwin Brown, who installed a 3-4 scheme to try to generate more big plays and get more speed and athleticism on the field. The line will be the issue early on as two steady starters are needed to help out Trevor Laws. Maurice Crum leads a promising linebacking corps that should shine in the new defense. The big problem could again be the secondary. It has experience, but it won't get as much help from the pass rush, like it did last year, and needs the young corner prospects to push the unspectacular veterans for time.

Oct. 6 - Ohio State
Offense: You don't get better after losing Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Antonio Pittman, and, oh yeah, some quarterback who won a Heisman and owned Michigan. While many will predict doom and gloom, the offense might crank out close to as many yards as last year when it was 26th in the nation as long as Chris Wells holds up and becomes the running back everyone's expecting him to be, and new starting quarterback Todd Boeckman is merely above average. The receiving corps is talented, but untested, while there's plenty of reason to be excited about a line that'll field one of the best starting fives in the nation. Tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton and guard Steve Rehring will be first day draft picks. Welcome back to Tressel ball with more running and fewer shots taken down the field.
Defense: A question mark last year thanks to a ton of turnover, the defense reloaded and should be fantastic as long as the tackles and safeties shine and a second corner emerges on the other side of Malcolm Jenkins. There are stars to build around, with Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis and end Vernon Gholston among the best in the country, while there are emerging stars, as always around OSU, in like linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan and end Lawrence Wilson. Don't expect too many bells and whistles; this D will beat teams by simply being far more athletic.

Oct. 13 – at Michigan
Offense: Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord didn't change things up much in his first year, and there aren't going to be a lot of bells and whistles for an attack with all the stars returning. Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Mario Manningham form the best skill trio in America, while tackle Jake Long and quarter Adam Kraus form one of the nation's best left sides. The only issue is depth, which is stunning undeveloped or a program like Michigan. Of course there are talented prospects waiting in the wings, but there will be major problems if injuries strike early on.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Ron English did a fantastic job in his first season sending the dogs loose to attack more than previous Michigan teams. Now the hope will be for overall speed and athleticism to make up for the lack of experience and a few gaping holes. This won't be the nation's number one run defense again, and it won't be fourth in sacks, but it will create plenty of turnovers and force a ton of mistakes. It'll also give up too many big pass plays. The safeties are fine, the linebacking corps won't be an issue, even without David Harris to anchor things anymore, and the line, in time, will grow into a strength. The biggest issue will be at corner, where Morgan Trent isn't a number one lockdown defender, and there are several untested prospects waiting to get their chance to shine.

Oct. 20 - Iowa
Offense: The Jake Christensen era starts after four years of the Drew Tate regime, but backup quarterback Arvell Nelson is a terrific prospect who could push hard this fall. With the 1-2 rushing punch of Albert Young and Damian Sims, the ground game will be strong if the questionable offensive line pulls out a better season than last year (when injuries were a major problem). Dominique Douglas and Andy Brodell are emerging targets, and they'll shine with a passer like Christensen winging it. As good as Christensen might be, the offense will try to run first.
Defense: You basically know what you're getting with the Iowa defense. It's not going to do anything fancy, it's not going to bring any funky blitzes, and most teams should be able to get yards through the air without a problem. However, everyone can hit and there are few mistakes made. Eight starters return, led by end Ken Iwebema and one of the Big Ten's best lines, while the replacements for the departed starters are good. Forcing more turnovers, making more plays behind the line, and generating more pressure are all vital to coming up with a better year.

Oct. 27 - Northwestern

Offense: After a year of trying to get the quarterback situation straight, mostly due to an injury to C.J. Bacher early on, the offense should start to shine as long as there aren't major injury problems up front. The line, with four good starters returning led by center Trevor Rees and tackle Dylan Thiry, will be one of the most effective in the Big Ten, but the developed depth isn't quite there yet. Tyrell Sutton will once again be one of the nation's best all-around backs and should be a lock for 1,000 yards for the third straight season. The big improvement should be in the passing game, as long as Bacher is healthy, with an interesting and promising group of receivers ready to emerge.
Defense: Even though there wasn't much in the way of a pass rush, there weren't any plays in the backfield, and the run defense struggled, the defense made major strides after a disastrous 2005. Now this should be one of the better Wildcat defenses in years with a big, talented front four that should start generating some sort of consistent pressure. Adam Kadela leads a decent linebacking corps, while the safety tandem of Brendan Smith and Reggie McPherson should be rock-solid. This isn't a fast defense and it's thin in key areas like free safety and tackle, but there's enough all-around talent to keep the mediocre offenses under wraps.


Nov. 3 – at Penn State
Offense: Known for being button-down conservative, now it's time for Penn State to open the offense up. At least, that's what it has to do to play to the team's strengths. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best in the league with three great targets in Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood, and an all-star-to-be in tight end Andrew Quarless. If senior quarterback Anthony Morelli is consistent and gets the ball to his speedy receivers deep, the passing game will be fantastic. The line, despite the loss of Levi Brown, will be excellent with the expected emergence of tackles Dennis Landolt and Gerald Cadogan, but the real question mark will be running back Austin Scott. The one time star recruit Austin Scott has to finally show he can be the workhorse for the running game. If not. it'll be throw, throw and throw some more.
Defense: As always, the defense will revolve around the linebackers. Paul Posluszny might be gone, but Dan Connor, who'll take over in the middle, could turn into a better all-around playmaker, and Sean Lee will be an All-Big Ten performer. The line doesn't have much experience with only one starter returning, but there's plenty of promise on the inside in beefy tackles Phil Taylor and Abe Koroma. The secondary will be stellar if Anthony Scirrotto gets past his off-the-field legal troubles. If not, corner Justin King and safety Tony Davis, who moves over from corner, will keep the pass defense from sliding after a good 2006.

Nov. 10 – Michigan State
Offense: In keeping with the overall belief system of the new coaching staff, the offense will try to become more physical and should play to the strength, which will be running the ball. The line is big, and now has to start hitting to open things up for the speedy duo of Javon Ringer and A.J. Jimmerson and the pounding Jehuu Caulcrick. All eyes will be on Brian Hoyer, who might not be Drew Stanton talent-wise, but should be a more consistent quarterback as long as the receiving corps, which loses the top three targets, becomes productive right away.
Defense: The aggressive, attacking approach didn't work under the old regime, and now the new coaching staff will want to play it a bit closer to the vest to start, and then will start to make big plays as everyone figures out their roles. There won't be too many bells and whistles in the basic 4-3, but some chances will need to be taken, and head coach Mark Dantonio is great at adjusting and forcing teams out of their gameplans, after not doing much to generate any pressure in the backfield last year. A pass rusher has to emerge, but the overall potential is there to be better with Otis Wiley and Nehemiah Warrick good safeties to build around, while the linebackers should be one of the team's biggest strengths. The line is the key after a few awful years of doing a lot of nothing.

Nov. 17 – at Indiana
Offense: The IU spread offense has the pieces in place with rising star quarterback Kellen Lewis about to come into his own as a leader, and a good receiving corps to put up big numbers, led by James Hardy. There's speed at running back, but Marcus Thigpen and Demetrius McCray have to be more productive. The X factor is the line, which the late Terry Hoeppner did a great job of putting together in the 2006 recruiting class. Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon are just two who should upgrade the front.
Defense: The IU defense has struggled over the last few years to slow anyone down, but now the youth movement should produce results. The goal is to bend but not break, and now there has to be less breaking. It's still a young overall group, but there's experience and potential, especially at corner where Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors should be among the Big Ten's best. There's little proven pass rush up front, while the linebacking corps is small and quick by design.



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