tampabay.com

Notre Dame offense back in step

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 1, 2006


SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Brady Quinn, Darius Walker and the Notre Dame offense were at their best against one of the nation's worst defenses.

Quinn picked apart Purdue, completing 24 of his first 28 passes to help the 12th-ranked Irish build a three-touchdown lead on their way to a 35-21 victory Saturday.

Quinn finished 29-for-38 for 316 yards against the Boilermakers, who entered the game with the fifth-worst pass defense in the country. The Irish, who entered the game with the nation's 12th-worst rushing offense, got 146 yards on 36 carries by Walker.

"Our offense did a great job capitalizing when it came down to it, especially in the red zone and third downs," Quinn said. "We did a great job moving the chains."

The Irish withstood a big day by Curtis Painter and the Boilermakers' offense. Painter was 23-for-46 for 398 yards and Selwyn Lymon had eight catches for 238 yards - the second most by a Purdue receiver and the most ever by an Irish opponent.

"Sometimes you give up yards, but yards can be misleading," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "Sometimes yards are garbage yards, too."

The Irish improved to 4-1 for the second straight season - the first time they have had one loss or fewer after five games in consecutive seasons since the 1993-94 seasons. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Purdue.

The Irish offense, which had played inconsistently in its first four games, finally looked like last season's record-setting group. It opened a 28-7 lead late in the first half, when it had 19 first downs - matching the season-high it had for an entire game in a 41-17 win over Penn State.

"As we marched down the field, I think we got a little confidence and the momentum definitely shifted in our favor," Walker said.

The Boilermakers finished with 490 yards offense, but they also had a fumble and a missed field goal.

No. 6 Michigan 28, Minnesota 14

MINNEAPOLIS - The Little Brown Jug is headed to Ann Arbor.

Chad Henne got the Wolverines off to a fast start with three touchdown passes in the first half and Michigan hung on.

Henne was 17-for-24 for 284 yards and Mike Hart rushed for 195 yards - 54 on his final carry of the game - for the Wolverines, who looked like they would blow the game open early but let the Gophers hang around with a sluggish performance in the second half.

Bryan Cupito threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns to Logan Payne for the Gophers, who came into the game with college football's oldest rivalry trophy for the first time in 20 years.

Penn St. 33, N'western 7: In a matchup of the oldest and youngest coaches in Division I-A, Joe Paterno (79 years old) and Penn State defeated Pat Fitzgerald (31) and Northwestern at State College, Pa. Deon Butler set a Nittany Lions record with 216 yards receiving yards and Tony Hunt ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Sean Lee had a sack and an interception to thwart back-to-back Northwestern drives in the third quarter, and Penn State took advantage each time by following up with scoring runs by Hunt to break open the game.

Illinois 23, Mich. State 20: A week after blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead to Notre Dame, Michigan State became the first Big Ten team to lose to Illinois since 2004. Jason Reda's 39-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining lifted Illinois in East Lansing, Mich.

The Illini were 26-point underdogs. Illinois freshman quarterback Isiah Williams, making his second career start, ran for 103 yards on 17 carries and went 9-for16 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.

"We're the Fighting Illini, not the lay-down Illini," Williams said.

Wisconsin 52, Indiana 17: John Stocco threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns and P.J. Hill ran for 129 yards and three scores as the Badgers romped in Bloomington, Ind. Wisconsin responded emphatically after last week's loss at Michigan with 390 yards and five touchdowns in seven first-half possessions. The Badgers finished with 539 total yards.