2007 Indiana Hoosiers

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Indiana Hoosiers Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews


2007 Indiana Hoosiers

2007 Recap: In the feel-good story of 2007, Indiana fulfilled the vision of late head coach Terry Hoeppner, earning a 13th game, an Insight Bowl invitation, for the first time in 14 years.  The Hoosiers got whacked by Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve, but it couldn't overshadow all that the young program accomplished, including a last-second win over Purdue for the first time since 2001.  QB Kellen Lewis solidified his spot as the face of the IU program, throwing for 3,043 yards and 28 touchdowns, while rushing for nine more scores and a team-high 736 yards.         

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Kellen Lewis

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Greg Middleton

Biggest Surprise: Middleton.  Modestly recruited coming out of high school, Middleton went from a quiet rookie season to one of the nation's top pass rushers.  Using a great first step off the edge, he led the country with 16 sacks, earning a spot as a finalist for the Hendricks Award.     

Biggest Disappointment: With a rare national spotlight to show off how far it's come, Indiana flopped in the Insight Bowl, playing one of its worst games of the season.  While the offense was slow to take advantage of a weak Oklahoma State pass defense, the defense was hapless, yielding 35 points in the first half and 526 total yards on the night.  

Looking Ahead: After serving brilliantly under impossible circumstances in 2007, Bill Lynch had the interim tag stripped from his title at the end of the season.  The stability should help a program that'll be looking to capitalize on last year's success with a return to the postseason in 2008.   

- 2007 Indiana Preview
2006 Indiana Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2007 Results: 7-6

Sept. 1 Indiana State W 55-7
Sept. 8 at West Mich W 37-27
Sept. 15 Akron W 41-24
Sept. 22 Illinois L 27-14
Sept. 29 at Iowa W 38-20
Oct. 6 Minnesota W 40-20
Oct. 13
at Michigan St L 52-27
Oct. 20 Penn State L 36-31
Oct. 27 at Wisconsin
 L 33-3
Nov. 3 Ball State W 38-20
Nov. 10 at Nwestern L 31-28
Nov. 17 Purdue W 27-24
Insight Bowl
Dec. 31 Oklahoma State L 49-33

Dec. 31
2007 Insight Bowl
Oklahoma State 49 ... Indiana 33

Indiana got up 3-0 on a 43-yard Austin Starr field goal on its opening drive of the game, and then it was all Oklahoma State as Dantrell Savage ran for a three-yard score and Zac Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more as the Cowboys took a 35-10 lead into halftime. Indiana mounted a little bit of a comeback in the second half with Kellen Lewis and Josiah Sears each running for short touchdowns and James Bailey catching a 30-yard touchdown pass with one second to play, but it was way too little, too late. Dez Bryant caught touchdown passes from 24 and 11 yards out for OSU, and Robinson finished with 372 yards of total offense and accounted for five scores. The two teams combined for 20 penalties for 183 yards.
Offensive Player of the Game: Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson completed 24 of 34 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran 15 times for 70 yards and two scores
Defensive Player of the Game: Oklahoma State SS Andre Sexton made ten tackles and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 24-34, 302 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 23-100, 1 TD. Receiving: Dez Bryant, 9-117, 2 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 22-43, 204 yds, 2 TD
Kellen Lewis, 10-83, 1 TD. Receiving: James Hardy, 5-50
Thoughts & Notes ... Oklahoma State couldn't be going into the offseason on a higher note. After an uneven and inconsistent season, all the parts were working against Indiana with 211 rushing yards and 302 through the air in an offensive explosion that many thought would happen game in and game out. Make no mistake about it; this is Zac Robinson's offense now. The attack revolved around him more and more as the season wore on, and he showed against the Hoosiers that he could be a potential superstar. ... Indiana got whipped on the lines. Early on, Kellen Lewis appeared to be more worried about the OSU defensive front than he was about making plays, and the Hoosier line that was so great at getting into the backfield throughout the year did absolutely nothing to disrupt the OSU offense despite making seven tackles for loss. ... IU's number one priority this offseason has to be getting more of a running game. Lewis can't do it all on his own. Marcus Thigpen is productive when he gets the ball, but he's not a workhorse who'll carry it 25 times a game. ... Building on this is a must for Oklahoma State. Indiana might not be a juggernaut, but getting a win like this sets the bar that much higher for a program with a T. Boone Pickens and his mighty expectations (and checkbook) putting the pressure on.

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: Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton ran 33 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, and caught six passes for 72 yards
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
Marcus Thigpen, 19-140. Receiving: James Hardy, 10-87, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Hoosiers might have blown the chance to go bowling with the loss to Northwestern last week, but it's back in now with the stunning win over Purdue. Strangely enough, it was the defense, with yet another fantastic day from Greg Middleton with 2.5 sacks, rather than a big offensive display that got the win. That might turn out to be the legacy of this team. Timely offense, aggressive defense, and a 13th game. Terry Hoeppner's prophecy has come true.

Nov. 10
Northwestern 31 ... Indiana 28
Northwestern got a three-yard Ross Lane touchdown catch with 44 seconds to play, and then held on with a big sack in the final few moments to get by the Hoosiers. IU got its first touchdown on a 91-yard James Bailey kickoff return after a Northwestern 29-yard field goal. With two James Hardy touchdown catches in the second half from 11 and five yards out, and a 14-yard Kellen Lewis touchdown run, the Hoosiers held the lead late before NU's final 12-play, 73-yard drive. The Wildcats went on a midgame 21-point run on a 41-yard Eddie Simpson interception return for a touchdown, a 15-yard Kim Thompson catch, and a one-yard Tyrell Sutton run.
Player of the game: Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton ran 33 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, and caught six passes for 72 yards
Stat Leaders: Northwestern - Passing: C.J. Bacher, 26-33, 276 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Tyrell Sutton, 33-141, 1 TD. Receiving: Kim Thompson, 6-78, 1 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 18-27, 204 yds, 2 TD
Bryan Payton, 15-55. Receiving: James Hardy, 7-107, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Hoosiers might be bowl eligible, but with the late loss against Northwestern, they're in big trouble unless they beat Purdue. There aren't enough bowl slots for the Big Ten, so IU has to pull up out of the current slide of four straight Big Ten losses, and four losses in five games, to get even more out of the offense next week. The running game continues to sputter a bit too much, with too much of a reliance on Kellen Lewis, James Hardy, and the passing attack. Getting a third down stop would be nice, after allowing the Wildcats to convert 12 of 17 chances.

Nov. 3
Indiana 38 ... Ball State 20
In a shootout with the two teams combining for 699 passing yards, Kellen Lewis threw two touchdown passes to James Hardy, from 20 and four yards out, and two to Ray Fisher, from 60 and 25 yards, out, but it was an errant throw that turned the game around. With the game tied at ten, IU's Chris Phillips took a Nate Davis pass 58 yards for a touchdown, and the Hoosiers stayed ahead from then on. Davis threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Ifft, and Chris Clancy ran for a four yard score for the Cardinals.
Player of the game: Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 22 of 35 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, and ran ten times for 52 yards
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 26-48, 332 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Chris Clancy, 9-29, 1 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 14-177
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 22-35, 354 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Kellen Lewis, 10-52. Receiving: James Hardy, 8-116, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Bowl eligibility. Taken for granted by many, this is a big deal for Indiana to finally get to six wins. After beating Ball State, now the Hoosiers need to beat either Northwestern or Purdue to assure themselves of a 13th game. To do that, Kellen Lewis and the passing game has to stay hot, waking up after getting dominated by Wisconsin. The lack of a consistent running game could be a problem over the final two weeks. Lewis can't be the team's leading rusher for the offense to be at its best.

Oct. 27
Wisconsin 33 ... Indiana 3
Indiana turned it over five times and was held to 258 yards of total offense and just a 49-yard Austin Scott field goal, while Wisconsin rolled without a problem from the start. P.J. Hill ran for a one-yard score, but got hurt on the play and was out for the game. Lance Smith and Zach Brown picked up the slack. Brown took it in from six yards away for 17-0 first half lead, and Smith ran for scores from six and 19 yards out. The Badgers held on to the ball for 35:23.
Player of the game: Wisconsin LB Jonathan Casillas made 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, and forced a fumble
Stat Leaders: Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 17-33, 113 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Marcus Thigpen, 11-70. Receiving: Andrew Means, 9-66
Wisconsin - Passing: Tyler Donovan, 12-21, 144 yds, 1 INT
Lance Smith, 15-79, 2 TD. Receiving:
Kyle Jefferson, 3-50
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... IU was able to stay within striking distance of Wisconsin, but never overcame the several bad mistakes to get in the game. Kellen Lewis and James Hardy never got on track, with Lewis's running lanes inside taken away, and Hardy erased by Jack Ikegwuonu. From the five turnovers, to a slightly questionable holding call on Hardy that called back a long Marcus Thigpen touchdown run, this wasn't the team's sharpest game. Lewis might be the star of the running game, but Thigpen needs the ball more.

Oct. 20
Penn State 36 ... Indiana 31
Penn State appeared to be on the way to a tough win after Kevin Kelly hit hit third field goal of the second half to go up 29-17 in the fourth quarter, but Indiana came roaring back with a James Hardy seven-yard touchdown catch and a 56-yard Kellen Lewis touchdown run wrapped around a good Nittany Lion drive ending with a five-yard Rodney Kinlaw score. IU had one last shot, but Lewis lost a fumble. Hardy had a monster day for the Hoosiers with 14 catches and two scores, but the IU offense had problems getting going thanks to the Penn State pass rush that came up with six sacks. Anthony Morelli threw two touchdown passes in the first half.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, Indiana QB James Hardy caught 14 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 30-48, 318 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Marcus Thigpen, 13-32. Receiving: James Hardy, 14-142, 2 TD
Penn State - Passing: Anthony Morelli, 22-32, 195 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Evan Royster, 12-68, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordan Norwood, 8-65, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... In the
glass is half full approach in the loss to Penn State, IU lost four fumbles, couldn't handle the pass rush, and didn't get nearly enough of a running game outside of the late Kellen Lewis touchdown run. James Hardy continues to be tremendous as he continues to be the best receiver, and maybe the best offensive player, that no one is paying attention to. Losing close games, even to Penn State, isn't enough now for IU, and it needs to get all the parts working to come up with a win against a beatable Wisconsin team next week.

Oct. 13
Michigan State 52 ... Indiana 27
Michigan State dominated Indiana with 368 rushing yards to 22, 28 first downs to nine, and 41:05 on the time of possession to 18:55 thanks to 202 yards from Javon Ringer and a near-perfect passing day from Brian Hoyer, Indiana tied if at seven midway through the first quarter on a 59-yard Kellen Lewis touchdown run, and then MSU dominated until late in the third with two of Jehuu Caulcrick's three short touchdown runs, a 64-yard Ringer dash, along with a three-yard run, and a 34-yard Devin Thomas scoring catch. Ervin Baldwin and the defense got into the act with a 12-yard fumble return for a score to make it 45-13. IU got a big defensive score of its own on a 76-yard Tracy Porter fumble return for a touchdown.
Player of the game: Michigan State RB Javon Ringer ran 29 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 13-19, 171 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kellen Lewis, 7-23  1 TD. Receiving: James Herdy, 6-121, 1 TD
Michigan State - Passing: Brian Hoyer, 20-23, 190 yds, 1 TD
Javon Ringer, 29-203, 2 TD. Receiving: Devin Thomas, 13-148, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Austin Thomas made 22 tackles, but that was the only thing notable about the IU defense against Michigan State. The line got blown off the ball and didn't get enough pressure on Brian Hoyer, even with three sacks. It's not like Kellen Lewis and the offense was bad, but the line gave up five sacks and there were only nine first downs. The offense simply didn't get enough chances because the D couldn't get MSU off the field. The lines will have to play much better over the next two weeks against Penn State and Wisconsin.

Oct. 6
Indiana 40 ... Minnesota 20
Bryan Payton ran for three touchdowns, scoring from 48, one, and five yards out, and Austin Starr hit fourth field goals, as Indiana had few problems with Minnesota after the first 20 minutes. The Gophers came up with an Adam Weber seven-yard touchdown run, and a one-yard Duane Bennett score, but were outscored 19-0 on a midgame IU run to put it away. The Hoosiers outgained Minnesota 228 yards to 112 n the ground.
Player of the game: Indiana RB Bryan Payton rushed for 90 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries
Stat Leaders: Minnesota - Passing: Adam Weber, 24-44, 280 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing: Jay Thomas, 8-58. Receiving: Eric Decker, 8-74, 1 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 24-36, 235 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Bryan Payton, 13-90, 3 TDs. Receiving: Ray Fisher, 9-106

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It took a little while, but eventually, the IU offense had few problems keeping the chains moving against Minnesota, and then pulled away in the second half. With near perfect balance, and only one turnovers, IU controlled the game after the first quarter. Now it's time to get greedy. A 20-point win was nice, but it could've been a whole lot uglier if just a few of the four field goal drives went for touchdowns.
Now the team is a win away from being bowl eligible, but the goals now can afford to be a little bit bigger.

Sept. 29
Indiana 38 ... Iowa 20
Indiana got up early 1-0 on two Kellen Lewis touchdown passes and a 71-yard scoring dash, technically, on a pass to himself, after picking up a fumble. Iowa managed a 33-yard Trey Stross scoring grab with no time left on the clock in the first half, and got a touchdown on a ten-yard Brandon Myers catch to pull within eight, thanks to a failed extra point. And then Indiana put it away, going on an 11-play drive that took 5:05 off the clock and finished with a one-yard Josiah Sears touchdown run, the first of two in the second half.
Player of the game: Indiana QB Kellen Lewis was 19-of-26 for 322 yards, three touchdowns, including a 71-yard fumble recovery for a score, and an interception, while running for 20 yards on four carries.
Stat Leaders: Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 19-26, 322 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Marcus Thigpen, 15-23. Receiving: Josiah Sears, 7-58
Iowa - Passing: Jake Christensen, 24-42, 308 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Albert Young, 15-94. Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 6-68, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Indiana did exactly what it had to do against a punchless Iowa team. Get up early, force the Hawkeyes to press, and hang on. It would've been nice if the running game had worked better, but that's a good Hawkeye defensive front it had to deal with. Kellen Lewis was phenomenal, and James Hardy was typical James Hardy against Iowa, catching four passes for 113 yards. Bowl eligibility is suddenly within range, but a win over Minnesota next week is a must for that to happen.

Sept. 22
Illinois 27 ... Indiana 14
Illinois got out to a 13-0 fist half lead on two Jason Reda field goals and two-yard Michael Hoomanawanui touchdown catch, but Indiana was able to come back with a ten-play march culminating in a seven-yard James Hardy scoring grab. Illinois QB Juice Williams came up with his most efficient drive of the day, going 68 yards in 1:14 with a pass to Rashad Mendenhall closing out the first half. Mendenhall put the Illini comfortably ahead with a five-yard scoring run. James Bailey caught a 30-yard touchdown pass for the Hoosiers in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game ... Illinois RB Rashad Mendenhall ran 27 times for 214 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 18 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 26-51, 263 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Bryan Payton, 5-40  Receiving: Andrew Means, 7-83
Illinois - Passing: Juice Williams, 13-28, 98 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rashad Mendenhall, 27-214, 1 TD  Receiving: Arrelious Benn, 5-50
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Indiana will be kicking itself for a while over the loss to Illinois. Four turnovers
and struggling run defense cost the Hoosiers in what was a must-win at home. The biggest problem? The offensive line in pass protection, allowing seven sacks and giving up several other pressures to kill the timing of the passing game. Kellen Lewis wasn't bad, but he didn't have time to make the offense explode. Now there's a big problem with Iowa's tremendous defensive line to deal with next.

Sept. 15
Indiana 41 ... Akron 24
Indiana QB Kellen Lewis ran for 199 yards with touchdown runs from three and 17 yards, while James Hardy finally put the game out of reach with a 21-yard touchdown catch. The Zips hung tough all game long, and held a lead late in the second quarter, helped by a touchdown run and pass from Carlton Jackson. Jackson connected with Jamari Arthur for a 26-yard touchdown to pull within three in the fourth, but Lewis and the IU offense took over and the Zips weren't able to get back into scoring range.
Player of the game ... Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 19 of 24 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran 18 times for 199 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Carlton Jackson, 15-21, 200 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Carlton Jackson, 20-71, 1 TD  Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 7-118, 1 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 19-24, 137 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Kellen Lewis, 18-199, 2 TD  Receiving:
Ray Fisher, 5-10, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... People might look at the final score and assume the Hoosiers won with out a problem, but it took a clutch fourth quarter to put it away. Kellen Lewis and the IU ground game ran extremely well, and now there will have to be more midrange to deep passes to start the Big Ten season on a high note. There hasn't been a good win over a decent team yet, but 3-0 is 3-0. Considering what the program has gone through, that's nothing to simply overlook.

Sept. 8
Indiana 37 ... Eastern Michigan 27
Indiana jumped out to a 31-7 first half lead helped by two James Hardy touchdown catches, a 24-yard Josiah Sears scoring grab, and a 44-yard Greg Middleton fumble recovery for a score, and then Western Michigan came back. Down 34-7, the Broncos answered a 23-yard Austin Starr field goal with a 98-yard Brandon West kickoff return for a score as part of a 20-3 run. It wasn't enough as the Hoosier defense finally stiffened late, but not before Tim Hiller found Jamarko Simmons and Brnadon Ledbetter for touchdowns.
Player of the game ... Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 20 of 40 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns wit an interception, and he ran 15 times for 59 yards
Stat Leaders: Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 28-51, 343 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brandon West, 12-51  Receiving: Jamarko Simmons, 14-158, 1 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 20-40, 221 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Marcus Thigpen, 22-81  Receiving:
Ray Fisher, 9-77
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Hoosiers got a decent road win against Western Michigan by getting good offensive balance early, but it has to be a concern that the production stopped in the second half. The team appeared to mentally let up after getting out to the big early lead, but the defense kept up the pressure from several spots to finish with eight sacks. The 11 penalties were way too many, and the running game stumbled when it should've been rolling to close things out, but it was still a road win before dealing with Akron.

Sept. 1
Indiana 55 ... Indiana State 7
On an emotional day when the late Indiana head coach Terry Hoeppner was honored, the Hoosiers did their coach proud as Kellen Lewis threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and James Hardy made scoring plays from 58 and 79 yards out. Indiana State pulled within seven in the first quarter on a one-yard Alex Thomas run, but that was it for the Sycamores. Josiah Sears, Bryan Payoton and Trea Burgess each ran for short touchdowns for the Hoosiers.
Player of the game ... Indiana WR James Hardy caught three passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Indiana State - Passing: Reilly Murphy, 20-36, 130 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Tony West, 8-38  Receiving: Rafael Price, 7-48
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 12-21, 285 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Kellen Lewis, 9-59, 1 TD  Receiving:
James Hardy, 3-153, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... IU wasn't about to play poorly in the first game after the passing of Terry Hoeppner, but it was only against Indiana State. The offense was explosive, the defense played as well as it had in years, and everything clicked on big play after big play. Now the Hoosiers have to show they can really play by keeping the momentum going against Western Michigan and Akron over the next two weeks. Several backs got in some good work, but this team is going to go as Kellen Lewis goes. He has to keep his mistakes to a minimum.

Sept. 1 – Indiana State

Sept. 8 – at Western Michigan
Offense: The parts are there, and now the production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch. Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as average as it was last year.
Offense: It's not a big D, but it's very quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.

Sept. 15 - Akron
Offense: The offense was a major disappointment last season with almost no production from a veteran offensive line and too much of a reliance on the passing game. Now the running game, with a good 1-2 punch of Dennis Kennedy and Andre Walker, should provide more pop, but the the line, with four new starters, has to be far better. The quarterback situation will be unsettled going into the fall with Carlton Jackson, Chris Jaquemain, and Sean Hakes all in the race. The receiving corps is fast and experienced, and now everyone has to play beyond their talent level to help out whoever the new passer will be.
Defense: The 3-3-5 defense of Jim Fleming was excellent last year, and it should be even better with eight starters returning and the right pieces in place. To run this type of defense, you need big linemen. Check. The Zips have 300-pounders in a rotation at tackle and big size at the other two spots. You need playmaking linebackers. Check. Three starters return with excellent depth to rotate in. You also need a secondary to hold it's own. Not a problem. Four starters return in the back five led by veteran corners Reggie Corner and Davanzo Tate.

Sept. 22 - Illinois
Has there ever been so much of a buzz for an offense that's done absolutely nothing? Juice Williams led the way to the nation's most inefficient passing attack, the O struggled to average 20 points a game, and never, ever came up with a clutch play. Chalk it up to youth, but this year's offense is still insanely young, and getting younger with the best receiver, Arrelious Bean, a true freshman. Even so, all will be fine as long as the starting 11 stays healthy. If injuries strike, things will go in the tank with no one to rely on behind Williams, no solid number two running back behind home-run hitter Rashard Mendenhall, and little developed depth behind an average line with four starters returning.
Defense: The defense never got any credit for a not-that-bad season. It was good at not giving up long drives or tons of yards, but it never, ever, ever came through with a key stop. How strange was the Illini D? It was 33rd in the nation allowing 310 yards per game, but allowed 26.75 points per game. This was going to be a good defense returning with J Leman tackling everything in sight at middle linebacker and Chris Norwell staring at tackle, and now there's actual talent to get excited about with the addition of mega-star recruits D'Angelo McCray on the line and Martez Wilson at linebacker. It'll be an interesting mix of good senior veterans and more talented underclassmen.

Sept. 29 – at 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. 6 - 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.

Oct. 13 – at 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.

Oct. 20 - 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.

Oct. 27 – at Wisconsin
Offense: The offense wasn't always pretty, but it produced. Now it welcomes back nine starters, led by power runner P.J. Hill working behind a deep and talented offensive line. The receiving corps is loaded with deep threats with Paul Hubbard, Luke Swan, and top pass-catching tight end Travis Beckum returning. It's all there to have a huge season as long as the quarterback situation is settled. Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge are each good enough to start, but one has to break free and take the job by the horns. While this is one of the deepest Badger offenses in a long time, most of the top reserves are untested. That isn't going to be an issue for the line or the backfield, but it could be a problem if injuries hit the receiving corps.
Defense: Seven starters return to the Big Ten's best defense that finished fifth in the country. The corners will be terrific with Jack Ikegwuonu and Allen Langford back on the nation's second best pass defense (and first in pass efficiency defense), but the safeties have to be replaced. Shane Carter is a future star at free safety, but strong safety is a question mark. The front seven might not have any sure-thing stars, but it'll be terrific as long as Elijah Hodge plays up to his potential in the middle. The overall depth is talented, even though it's young and relatively untested.

Nov. 3 - Ball State
Offense: The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there haven't been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't be able to take the next step.

Nov. 10 – at 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. 17 - Purdue
The Purdue offense was like a big budge action movie with a ton of fireworks and explosions, but had a plot that goes nowhere. It cranked out yards in bunches but did absolutely nothing against the big boys scoring three points against Wisconsin, seven against Maryland, 17 against Iowa, and was shut out by Penn State. It'll be in the top ten in the nation in yards again with Curtis Painter getting a jaw-dropping good receiving corps to work with led by the amazing Dorien Bryant in the slot. The 1-2 rushing punch of Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets is the best yet in the Joe Tiller era, while the right side of the line, Sean Sester at tackle and Jordan Grimes at guard, along with center Robbie Powell, will be dominant. The left side of the line is a concern and there's no developed depth anywhere, but the starting 11 should move the ball at will.
Defense: The Boilermakers haven't played defense for two years, and now the hope is for experience to turn into production with nine starters returning. Stopping the run will be priority one after finishing last in the Big Ten allowing 191 yards per game. The porous secondary should be better with all the young, inexperienced prospects of last year ready to shine as veterans. Overall, the pillow-soft D needs to find a nasty streak and start to play far tougher.



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