Big Ten: Frank Duong

Purdue spring wrap

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
9:05
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Purdue Boilermakers
2008 overall record: 4-8

2008 conference record:2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 4; Defense: 7; Special teams: 2

Top returners

WR Keith Smith, TE Kyle Adams, LT Zach Reckman, RB Jaycen Taylor, DE Ryan Kerrigan, DT Mike Neal, S Torri Williams, CB Brandon King, LB Joe Holland

Key losses

QB Curtis Painter, QB Justin Siller, RB Kory Sheets, WR Greg Orton, WR Desmond Tardy, DT Alex Magee, LB Anthony Heygood, S Frank Duong

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Kory Sheets (1,185 yds)
Passing
: Curtis Painter (2,400 yds)
Receiving: Desmond Tardy (876 yds)
Tackles
: Anthony Heygood (114)
Sacks
: Ryan Kerrigan* (7)
Interceptions
: Torri Williams and Dwight Mclean (2)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Toledo
Sept. 12 at Oregon
Sept. 19 Northern Illinois
Sept. 26 Notre Dame
Oct. 3 Northwestern
Oct. 10 at Minnesota
Oct. 17 Ohio State
Oct. 24 Illinois
Oct. 31 at Wisconsin
Nov. 7 at Michigan
Nov. 14 Michigan State
Nov. 21 at Indiana
Spring answers

1. Backs stacked -- Running back was a major question entering the spring, especially with Jaycen Taylor still rehabbing from a torn ACL. But sophomore Ralph Bolden came out of nowhere to spark the Boilers' rushing attack. Bolden capped an excellent spring with 153 rush yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. He finished with 420 rush yards in four spring scrimmages. Dan Dierking also performed well, and the running back spot should be deep once Taylor gets healthy and heralded freshman Al-Terek McBurse enters the mix. 

2. Tight ends surge -- First-year head coach Danny Hope raved about his tight ends this spring, and the group will be featured more in the offense after a one-year hiatus. Projected starter Kyle Adams showed what he can do when healthy this spring, making 10 receptions in the spring scrimmages. He'll be pushed by both Jeff Lindsay and Jeff Panfil.

3. Defensive line solid -- Line play could be a strength on both sides of the ball, and the defensive front looked promising this spring. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan appears ready to take another step after recording a team-high seven sacks last fall. He should get help from talented young players like Kawann Short and Gerald Gooden. Defensive tackle Mike Neal is very underrated inside and should have a big year.

Fall questions

1. Joey's time -- Senior quarterback Joey Elliott has waited his turn to start at quarterback, and barring a dramatic shift, he'll get it this fall. Still, Purdue would feel much more comfortable if Justin Siller was pushing Elliott for the top job. Siller might have been the team's No. 1 quarterback before his dismissal from school for violating academic policy. Elliott needs to elevate his game after three years as a backup, and Purdue must further develop backup Caleb TerBush.

2. Linebacker play -- There were some encouraging signs this spring, especially the re-emergence of oft-injured senior Jason Werner. But the rushing totals allowed in the spring scrimmages are troubling, and Purdue needs to identify three or four reliable linebackers after losing mainstay Anthony Heygood. The line and the secondary look solid, but linebacker is a bit iffy.

3. Wide receiver -- Purdue loses a ton of production at wide receiver, and Hope is still working to find capable targets for Elliott this fall. Keith Smith had a very solid spring and Aaron Valentin should take on a greater role this fall, but the Boilers need more bodies at receiver. They're hoping for more development this summer from converted cornerback Royce Adams.

Position superlatives: Purdue

March, 9, 2009
3/09/09
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

There's no shortage of questions for Danny Hope as he oversees his first set of spring drills as Purdue's head coach. The Boilermakers bring in new coordinators (Gary Nord, Donn Landholm) on both sides of the ball and lose many of their starting skill players on offense.

There's a little more stability on defense, despite the loss of leading tackler Anthony Heygood. Here's the good news and bad news for Purdue entering the spring.

Strongest position -- Defensive back

Key returnees: Senior cornerback Torri Williams, senior cornerback/safety Brandon King, senior safety Dwight Mclean, senior cornerback David Pender

Key departures: Safety Frank Duong (41 tackles, 1 fumble recovery)

The skinny: Purdue returns all four starters from a group that led the Big Ten in pass defense (183.2 ypg) last season. Williams, who received a sixth year of eligibility, can be a playmaker at either cornerback or safety when healthy, and King proved to be valuable at the opposite corner spot. The Boilers likely will lean on their defense early in the season, so expect the back four to play a vital role. The offensive line also could be a strength.

Weakest position -- Wide receiver

Key returnees: Junior Keith Smith, senior Aaron Valentin

Key departures: Greg Orton (69 receptions, 720 yards, 5 touchdowns), Desmond Tardy (67 receptions, 876 yards, 5 touchdowns), running back Kory Sheets (37 receptions, 253 yards, 1 touchdown), Brandon Whittington (25 receptions, 182 yards, 1 touchdown).

The skinny: It seems weird to type this, given Purdue's recent history of producing standout wide receivers, but there aren't many proven targets left for quarterbacks Joey Elliott and Justin Siller. There's a reason why Hope signed four wide receivers and a tight end in his first recruiting class. Purdue needs a playmaker to emerge at wideout, and perhaps more importantly, it needs to upgrade at tight end, a spot that really fell off last year after superstar Dustin Keller departed in 2007. Other potential trouble spots include quarterback, running back and linebacker.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Danny Hope doesn't hide his fondness for speed and athleticism, and he'll try to find those qualities in his first recruiting class as Purdue's head coach.

Hope has already shown a willingness to travel a good distance for what he wants, particularly to the state of Florida. Purdue's 2009 recruiting haul will have a very different look than previous classes.

The Boilers' biggest recruiting needs come on defense, as they lose three starting linemen and three starting defensive backs. Ryan Kerrigan looks like a budding star at defensive end, but Hope must add pieces around him through the 2009 class. End Alex Magee and tackles Mike Neal and Ryan Baker will be missed, and there's not much left over in the interior line. Safety also will be a priority for Hope as the Boilers lose Torri Williams, the team's second leading tackler, and Frank Duong.

Wide receiver jumps out as Purdue's biggest need on offense as the team loses Desmond Tardy and Greg Orton, who combined for 136 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season. Hope mentioned in August that he wants more speed at the inside receiver spots and will look to add some in this class. The new coach also prioritizes speed and athleticism over size at the offensive line spots, saying he wants "guys that are good enough to play on defense but are big enough to move to offense."

The Boilers also might look to add a quarterback or two in this class. Three-year starter Curtis Painter graduates, backup Joey Elliott is a senior and Justin Siller had mixed results in limited action last year, so another signal caller wouldn't be a bad move.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Shonn Greene is used to seeing the wide eyes and the dropped jaws as he recounts his amazing evolution from college football exile to national award candidate.

The story never gets old, even for the man telling it.

"I'm just as surprised as they are," Greene said. "You would think I wouldn't be. Everybody knows about it, so everybody's kind of surprised. It's a great journey."

 
 Mark Cunningham/Getty Images
 Shonn Greene is a finalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Greene's journey, which in a sense began inside a warehouse at McGregors Furniture last year, ends tonight in Orlando, Fla., at the College Football Awards Show (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). Though the Iowa junior running back didn't get an invitation to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, he's the favorite to win the Doak Walker Award tonight. Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno are the other Doak Walker finalists.

As he waited at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for his flight to Orlando on Wednesday morning, Greene was asked if he ever envisioned himself in this situation a year ago.

"Absolutely not," he said. "It's a good feeling."

After academic issues forced him out of football last season, Greene returned this fall and produced one of the greatest seasons in Iowa football history. He eclipsed 100 rushing yards in all 12 regular-season games, finished second nationally in rushing average (144.1 ypg) and broke Tavian Banks' single-season team rushing record with 1,729 yards.

Numbers like those merit a Heisman invite most seasons, but Iowa's slow start and a national spotlight consumed with quarterbacks kept Greene somewhat under the radar. He should get his due tonight as the nation's best running back.

"It would mean a lot," Greene said of the Doak Walker Award. "There are a lot of running backs this year doing well. Just to be up there with those guys will be an honor."

Greene admits the speed of the game initially caught him off guard after returning to the field this fall after a year away. He had trained hard in the summer with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle but got fatigued following the Hawkeyes' first two games.

What came next shocked Greene. He continued to get stronger as the season progressed and elevated his production despite increased awareness from opposing defenses. Greene had his two top rushing games -- 217 yards, 4 touchdowns against Wisconsin and 211 yards, 2 touchdowns against Purdue -- in the second half of the year.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Five Big Ten players have been nominated for the Rudy Award, which is exactly what it sounds like, an honor going to a player (often a walk-on or former walk-on) who exhibits character, courage, contribution and commitment during their college careers.

The award is presented by The Rudy Foundation, started by college football's most famous walk-on, former Notre Dame player Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger. Fifty-three FBS programs submitted nominees, and three Rudy Award finalists will be selected and honored at a banquet Jan. 12 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Big Ten's nominees are:

  • Indiana defensive end Jammie Kirlew
  • Iowa center Rob Bruggeman
  • Michigan State safety Otis Wiley
  • Penn State wide receiver Deon Butler
  • Purdue safety Frank Duong
For a full list of nominees, click here.

Big Ten picks for Week 6

October, 2, 2008
10/02/08
8:52
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

One of the comments on my most recent picks review noted that from here on out, I'll be lucky to go above .500. The reader is probably right. Things are getting much tougher, and our good pal parity is the reason why.

The Big Ten might not have multiple national title contenders or a large group of Heisman Trophy candidates, but there are no terrible teams in this league and many matchups are fairly even (see below). Wisconsin's loss at Michigan changes the complexion of this week's showcase game against Ohio State, and Iowa's desperate need for a victory could bring a stronger performance in East Lansing.

The season record could take a beating this week. Lots of close games.

Michigan State 24, Iowa 23 -- The teams are similar in both style and statistical rankings, and they should produce a down-to-the-wire matchup at Spartan Stadium. Things are getting ugly at Iowa as the heat is being turned up on head coach Kirk Ferentz and his coordinators Ken O'Keefe and Norm Parker. The Hawkeyes will be ready for this one, and if their veteran defensive line can contain Heisman Trophy candidate Javon Ringer, my prediction will be wrong. But Ringer will do just enough damage to top Iowa and the Big Ten's No. 2 back Shonn Greene.

Minnesota 38, Indiana 31 -- This has shootout written all over it, with both teams ranked in the league's top half in scoring offense. Both starting quarterbacks, Indiana's Kellen Lewis and Minnesota's Adam Weber, are dangerous on the move. The difference is the passing game, where Minnesota has the edge with Weber and All-Big Ten performer Eric Decker. Indiana's secondary remains a bit banged up, and Weber will take advantage for another big day in the dome.

Penn State 41, Purdue 27 -- Daryll Clark and the dangerous Penn State offense will pass their first true road test of the season against a Purdue team that will once again be without star linebacker Jason Werner and possibly starting safety Frank Duong (sprained knee). The Boilers have played well at Ross-Ade Stadium, where they should be 3-0 this season, but the offense hasn't found the end zone enough (only 13 touchdowns this season) and faces an underrated Penn State defense.

Illinois 27, Michigan 24 -- Another very tough game to pick. Michigan has some momentum after its dramatic comeback against Wisconsin, but I just can't see Illinois dropping to 2-3. The Wolverines' defense can only bail out the offense for so long, and getting outscored 72-37 in the first half just doesn't cut it. Carlos Brown and Junior Hemingway will be missed, and Illinois beats Michigan for the first time since 1999 behind Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn.

Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 21 -- Camp Randall will be rockin' and Wisconsin always plays well at home, but Ohio State has turned a corner with the return of running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. Both Wells and quarterback Terrelle Pryor will test Wisconsin's speed on defense, which seemed to drop off last week against Michigan. Wisconsin should get a boost with H-back/tight end Travis Beckum finally at full strength, but Ohio State's defense stands strong and forces a late turnover that proves to be the difference.

Season record: 38-7

Bye: Northwestern

Some depth chart tidbits

September, 30, 2008
9/30/08
9:39
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

More to come on these personnel issues after the Big Ten coaches' call later today, but a few interesting items on the depth charts released Monday.

  • Free safety Nick Polk is not listed on Indiana's depth chart for Minnesota, possibly indicating he'll miss another game with a knee injury. Polk has an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season. Strong safety Austin Thomas is listed as the starter after missing the last two games with a leg injury. Brandon Mosley started in place of Thomas against Michigan State, but Jerimy Finch played a lot.
  • Ohio State true freshman Mike Brewster has made a good impression so far and remains the co-starter at center even though Steve Rehring could be back from a foot injury. Brewster and junior Jim Cordle are listed as co-starters at center, while Cordle and Rehring are co-starters at left guard. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises thinks Ohio State might move Cordle to right guard to keep him on the field. The Buckeyes also have co-starters at one cornerback spot (Chimdi Chekwa and Donald Washington) and defensive tackle (Doug Worthington and Nader Abdallah).
  • Penn State wide receiver Jordan Norwood is listed as probable for the Purdue game after sitting out against Illinois with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Daryll Clark said Norwood did some light jogging at Monday's practice. "It's a day-to-day thing if he's going to play or not," Clark said. "He tweaked a hamstring really good."
  • Sophomore Ricky Stanzi remains the definitive starter at quarterback on Iowa's depth chart. Brandon Myers and the oft-injured Tony Moeaki are co-starters at tight end for the Michigan State game.
  • Physically gifted junior tight end Carson Butler has dropped to third string on Michigan's depth chart. Butler, who was ejected from a Sept. 13 game at Notre Dame for throwing a punch, dressed for last Saturday's game against Wisconsin but didn't play. Fifth-year senior Mike Massey and true freshman Kevin Koger, who caught a touchdown pass against the Badgers, are ahead of Butler. Head coach Rich Rodriguez called the move a coach's decision.
  • Linebacker Jason Werner, who recently underwent minor back surgery, isn't listed on Purdue's depth chart for Penn State. Frank Duong and Dwight Mclean are listed as co-starters at strong safety.

Off to Ann Arbor

September, 27, 2008
9/27/08
8:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

My flight to Detroit takes off in just a few minutes. I'll be checking in from Michigan Stadium later on this morning, so check back for some updates on Wisconsin-Michigan and the noon ET kickoffs. 

In the interim, brush up on your pregame reading:

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Ritttenberg

The curtain raises on Big Ten play this weekend, and you don't want to miss the show. Penn State attempts to validate its impressive start against a respectable opponent. Wisconsin tries to end a streak at Michigan, while the struggling Wolverines want to keep one going. Beanie's back in Columbus, but how much of a boost will he provide? Northwestern and Minnesota enter league play at 4-0, and no player is hotter than Michigan State's Javon Ringer.

Here are 10 things to keep track off Saturday:

1. Penn State HD-ready -- The Lions' new Spread HD offense has earned straight A's so far, but it has yet to take a real exam. Illinois' defense should provide one Saturday night at Beaver Stadium (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Penn State has showcased myriad weapons and had unparalleled production, but it will be interesting to see how first-year starting quarterback Daryll Clark performs under pressure. Ron Zook called Illinois' defensive line the team's strength. It's time to prove it.

2. Going streaking in Ann Arbor -- No, not me. But I'll be on hand to see if Michigan can win its 23rd consecutive Big Ten home opener. The Wolverines are underdogs against Wisconsin, which tries to snap its own streak, a four-game slide at the Big House. The Badgers are stronger and more experienced, but they went 1-3 in league road games last season and suffered their only loss of 2006 at Michigan.

3. All is Wells again at Ohio State -- The Buckeyes haven't been the same team since star running back Chris "Beanie" Wells injured his right big toe in the season opener. After three tortuous weeks without the onetime Heisman Trophy candidate, Ohio State will get Wells back in the mix for its league opener against Minnesota. Wells probably will be limited to 15-20 carries, but he could provide the emotional spark Ohio State's offense has lacked.

4. Ringer goes for another 200 -- Running back Javon Ringer is the first player in Michigan State history to record consecutive 200-yard rushing performances. He aims for another big day against Indiana, which couldn't contain Ball State back MiQuale Lewis last week. Ringer will get his carries -- he always does -- but it's important for Indiana's front seven, led by end Greg Middleton and linebacker Matt Mayberry, to make Brian Hoyer beat them.

5. Boilers secondary on alert -- Notre Dame doesn't want to abandon the run, but the Irish were much more effective against Michigan State when operating in a shotgun, pass-happy offense. Expect more of the same against Purdue, which needs another strong performance from an improved secondary. Wideouts Golden Tate and Michael Floyd will stretch the field, putting pressure on Purdue's solid safety tandem of Frank Duong and Torri Williams.

6. Minnesota and Northwestern on the defensive -- The Big Ten's two worst defenses last season have stepped up big behind new coordinators Ted Roof and Mike Hankwitz. An influx of junior college talent has sparked Minnesota to a league-leading 13 takeaways, and Northwestern tops the Big Ten's sacks chart with 15, three behind its season total from 2007. Both defenses can validate their strong starts by stifling Ohio State and Iowa.

7. Lions D-line gets a boost -- Penn State coach Joe Paterno said defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma probably will play against Illinois after being suspended the last three games. Both players could be a bit rusty, but they give a depleted defensive line a big lift. Evans could be the league's most dominant pass rusher, and he'll help chase Illinois quarterback Juice Williams.

8. Hill back at the Big House -- Two years ago, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill went to Michigan as the league's leading rusher and was held to 54 rushing yards on 20 carries. Hill ranks ninth nationally and second in the league in rushing average this fall (126.3 YPG) as he returns to the Big House. His ability to wear down Michigan's veteran defensive line could give Wisconsin the edge.

9. Stanzi back on center stage -- Iowa desperately needs a starting quarterback, and sophomore Ricky Stanzi gets another shot to fill the role. Hawkeyes fans were infuriated when coach Kirk Ferentz stuck with struggling junior Jake Christensen in the second half of last week's loss at Pitt. Stanzi will have the support of the home crowd as he faces a much-improved Northwestern defense.

10. Indiana under pressure -- It's still September, but Indiana needs to rebound after a 22-point home loss to Ball State. The Hoosiers' opening schedule sets them up for a repeat bowl run, but another setback could sidetrack things. Quarterback Kellen Lewis faces an aggressive Spartans defense led by Big Ten interceptions leader Otis Wiley and linebacker Greg Jones.

Numbers do lie for Purdue defense

September, 25, 2008
9/25/08
9:33
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack was shocked to find out where his unit ranked among Big Ten teams through the first few games. He's not the only one. 

"There's lies, damn lies and then there's statistics," Spack told The Journal and Courier. "This is the best we've played in four years, and our statistics don't show it. We're playing pretty good, so I don't worry about all that. When you're on the field 99 plays a game, that's just the way it is."

Spack's last comment might be a veiled jab at a Boilermakers offense that has struggled at times this year, but you get the point. Purdue ranks last or next to last in the Big Ten in the four major statistical categories:

  • Scoring defense -- 22.3 PPG, 10th
  • Pass defense -- 234.7 YPG, 10th
  • Rush defense -- 192.3 YPG, 11th
  • Total defense -- 427 YPG, 11th

Having seen the Boilers first-hand against Oregon and on television against Central Michigan, I can say unequivocally that they're a much better defense than the numbers would indicate. Oregon racked up a bunch of yards between the 20s, but Purdue continually made big plays in the red zone to stiffle drives. The Boilers' secondary, led by safeties Frank Duong and Torri Williams, is superior to the groups of recent seasons. Linebacker Anthony Heygood ranks second in the league in tackles (9.7 TPG). As for last week, Central Michigan ran 82 more plays than Purdue, which hasn't sustained a rhythm on offense for an entire game. 

There are two main reasons why Purdue ranks where it does.

  • The Boilers have faced tougher competition than most Big Ten teams -- a top 10 offense in Oregon and a top 20 quarterback in Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour.
  • Several Big Ten teams that have often struggled on defense -- Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State -- are off to strong starts.
Statistics can help shape judgments about teams, many of which are true. But the numbers don't add up when it comes to Purdue's defense.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Some unfinished business from today's Big Ten coaches' teleconference, which thankfully had no prank callers.

SECONDARY IMPRESSES TILLER

The result wasn't what he wanted, but Purdue coach Joe Tiller had few complaints about a Boilermakers secondary that flustered Oregon for much of last Saturday's 32-26 loss in two overtimes. Purdue recorded two interceptions and five pass breakups in the game, as Oregon wasted three red-zone scoring chances.

"They played their best game they've played in maybe two or three years," Tiller said of the defensive backs.

Starting strong safety Frank Duong, who had a team-high 11 tackles in the game, will be back for Saturday's game with Central Michigan after rolling his right ankle against the Ducks. Duong, who was wearing a walking boot after the game, has led the Boilers in tackles in each of the first two contests.

"Our red-zone defense is something we want to focus on because in the past, we haven't been very good," Duong said. "It's just another stepping stone for us to become a better defense. [Oregon is] one of the best teams in the country, and we hung with them for four quarters into overtime. We'll be able to say we can hang with anybody. I think we'll be OK the rest of the way."

Tiller expects to get senior guard/center Jared Zwilling (ankle) back this week and tackle Sean Sester (back) should be able to play about 40 snaps against Central Michigan. Starting linebacker Jason Werner (back) and tight end Kyle Adams (knee) will miss Saturday's game.

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

Illinois wide receiver Jeff Cumberland returned to action against Louisiana-Lafayette but will benefit from the bye week to heal his injured foot, Illini coach Ron Zook said. Zook expects promising safety Donsay Hardeman (knee) to return next week at Penn State, and reserve offensive lineman Randall Hunt was 100 percent in Monday's practice after sitting out a week with an injury.

The bye week also should benefit Michigan's work-in-progress offensive line. Redshirt freshman guard Mark Huyge -- great name for a lineman -- will be back from an ankle injury and starting left tackle Mark Ortmann (elbow) could have a chance to play next week against No. 8 Wisconsin. Coach Rich Rodriguez praised Perry Dorrestein's play in his first start but added, "We need to have those guys healthy to have a viable competition next week."

PRAISE FOR YOUNG RUNNING BACKS

Last Saturday was a bit odd for Rodriguez. His team made a multitude of mistakes, many unforced, in a 35-17 loss to Notre Dame. But the game also provided some bright spots at quarterback and running back. Freshman Sam McGuffie had 131 rushing yards to go along with four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Several coaches around the league took notice, including Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, whose team faces McGuffie and Michigan next week.

"He's a tremendous football player," Bielema said. "I've YouTubed him as well, as everybody else in the country has. He's got a lot of raw talent. ... It seems like he's a great effort guy and a very hard guy to defend."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio doesn't face Michigan until Oct. 25, but he saw McGuffie while preparing for Saturday's contest against Notre Dame (ABC, 3:30 p.m.).

"If you're watching the film and don't notice him, you're not watching the film," Dantonio said.

Another freshman runner stepped up as Minnesota's DeLeon Eskridge had 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Montana State. Eskridge moved several steps closer to claiming the starting spot that opened after Duane Bennett's season-ending knee injury.

"DeLeon has done a great job with his preparation," coach Tim Brewster said. "As harsh as this is, one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. DeLeon did a great job."

TEMPLE WILL TEST LIONS

Not sure what this says about Oregon State and Syracuse, but Penn State coach Joe Paterno called Temple the best team the 16th-ranked Nittany Lions will face to this point in the season. Paterno is impressed by the job his former player, Al Golden, has done with the Owls, who come off two hard-luck losses to Connecticut and Buffalo.

"This is the best Temple team we've seen in a long time," Paterno said. "I have to go back to Wayne Hardin, when Wayne almost beat us in Philadelphia [in the late 1970s]. They're well coached. They line up properly. They hustle."

Paterno also declined to comment about suspended defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma, who aren't listed on this week's depth chart. "We'll let that situation develop and if there's something to say, we'll say it," Paterno said.  

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- When Curtis Painter finishes his college career later this year, his name will be scattered throughout the Purdue and Big Ten record books.

 
  AP Photo/Tom Strickland
 QB Curtis Painter and the rest of the Boilermakers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to beat a ranked Oregon squad.

But the senior quarterback wanted to add a different sort of number to his résumé on Saturday -- 16. That was the national ranking Oregon had when it took the field at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue hadn't beaten a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 10 Iowa on Nov. 8, 2003. Painter arrived the next fall.

For much of Saturday's game, the Boilermakers' big-game drought looked to be nearing its end. Painter and the offense made some mistakes, but Oregon made just as many and the Boilers' defense kept coming up with big plays.

At times, the Ducks seemed to give the game away, but Purdue never took it and fell 32-26 in two overtimes.

"When we needed to, we made some big plays," Painter said, "and also, when we needed to, we didn't, if that makes any sense."

Making sense of Purdue's recurring big-game bugaboo won't be easy for Painter and his teammates after their latest might-have-been moment. Painter is 0-7 against the Big Ten's traditional top four teams -- Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin -- and could have used a boost against a marquee nonconference opponent.

Of the many missed opportunities Saturday, one stood out in the first overtime. After holding Oregon to a field goal, Purdue reached the 10-yard yard line when referees flagged cornerback Walter Thurmond for pass interference. But the Boilers couldn't deliver the finishing blow, as Painter was sacked and then stopped well short of the goal line on a third-down scramble.

"To be down there and to have that scenario, you ought to be able to capitalize," Painter said. "Unfortunately, that's one drive or possession that we'd like to play over again.

"You'd like to think we can put that in."

Painter completed 26 of 50 passes for 207 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Despite blustery conditions, he said the wind only affected a few throws and wasn't a huge factor.

"He threw it well at times, but other times we did a very poor job managing the game," coach Joe Tiller said.

Tiller went on to reference Painter's interception in the final minute of the first half that led to an Oregon field goal. Painter struggled in the third quarter but rebounded late and led Purdue on a 14-play, 53-yard, clock-eating drive that set up a potential game-winning field-goal attempt that Chris Summers missed wide left.

Fortunately for Painter and Purdue, the big-game chances don't end. The next four games come against MAC champ Central Michigan, rival Notre Dame, No. 17 Penn State and No. 5 Ohio State.

"We played a good team well today," Painter said. "Our team is the type of team that will be mature about this and take the good things out of it. I don't think we're the type of team that's really going to hang our head."

Painter's teammates aren't worried about a carryover effect.

"Curtis has been really good at just putting things aside and focusing on what he has to do next," safety Frank Duong said. "He's been around here long enough, he's played in a lot of big games, so he knows how to move on."

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