NCF Nation: Chris Summers

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Fifth-year senior Curtis Painter will start at quarterback when Purdue visits No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). Whether Painter takes snaps the entire game remains to be seen.

Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller reiterated Sunday that Painter would start despite replacing the record-setting quarterback with Joey Elliott in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to No. 6 Penn State. Tiller nearly replaced Painter two weeks earlier against Central Michigan and made the switch after Painter completed just 13 of 22 passes for 112 yards and an interception against the Nittany Lions.

Here's what Tiller told The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier:

"I'll talk to him probably midweek or so, but I'm not going spend a lot of time on it because of his experience. I tell the quarterbacks every year that anybody can get replaced at any time, don't read anything into it. You get a chance to come back and play, you come back and play your best."

Tiller made the right call to stick with Painter, and Painter strikes me as mature enough to handle his momentary demotion. But it's still somewhat surprising when a guy who likely will finish his career second on the Big Ten's all-time passing yards list gets sent to the bench. Painter has completed just 57.6 percent of his passes with as many touchdowns (5) as interceptions this year. He clearly misses Dorien Bryant and Dustin Keller -- can't blame him there -- and is still trying to build chemistry with his new set of wideouts.

It won't be easy to find a rhythm against Ohio State, but Purdue needs Painter at the top of his game before the season starts to slip away.

Purdue has made a change at kicker after Chris Summers missed two field goals and an extra point against Penn State. Freshman Carson Wiggs will kick for the Boilers at Ohio Stadium

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I'm all for instant replay in college football because getting the calls correct is the most important thing, but the system revealed one of its glitches in the Penn State-Purdue game.

Penn State lined up for fourth-and-goal after clearly not reaching the goal line on a third-down plunge. Purdue stuffed Daryll Clark on fourth down, but the whistle blew a flicker before the snap, signaling a replay review of the third-down play. The call was upheld and Clark made it in on his second fourth-down try, putting Penn State up 6-0.

The Lions didn't rush up to the line for fourth down, and officials had plenty of time to review the third-down play and stop action before players lined up. Plus, the call was a pretty obvious one. The delayed reaction cost Purdue seven points.

As for the game, Purdue has controlled the clock and showed some spine on defense after a poor performance last week. But the Boilers have nothing to show for their work as kicker Chris Summers has suddenly gone ice cold. Penn State is clearly the better team here, but short-yardage rushing and secondary play could be problems down the road.

Big Ten picks for Week 5

September, 25, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Big Ten play finally arrives for 10 of the 11 teams, and some intriguing opening matchups are on tap Saturday. Last week brought another solid record, but I underestimated the strength of several Big Ten defense. It won't happen this time around.

Not an easy slate of games, and recent history is working against favorites like Penn State (1-7 in its last eight Big Ten openers) and Wisconsin (hasn't won at Michigan since 1994). Here's how I see things shaking out.

Michigan State 30, Indiana 21 -- The Hoosiers allowed Ball State's MiQuale Lewis to rush for 166 yards last week. That's not a good sign as Javon Ringer, the nation's second-leading rusher, comes to Bloomington. Ringer could record his third straight 200-yard rushing performance, but this is an important game for Brian Hoyer to finally get going. The Spartans senior quarterback faces a depleted Indiana secondary. Kellen Lewis makes some plays for the Hoosiers, but Michigan State has the stronger defense.

Ohio State 35, Minnesota 17 -- The return of running back Chris Wells provides the emotional lift Ohio State has lacked the last three games. Wells might not put up huge numbers, but his presence sparks quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the offense. I haven't lost faith in Minnesota, but the timing just isn't right for an upset. And unlike previous Gophers opponents, Ohio State will actually bother to cover star wide receiver Eric Decker with All-America cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

Iowa 20, Northwestern 17 -- A really tough call here. Iowa hopes it finds a quarterback in sophomore Ricky Stanzi, but Northwestern's defense looks greatly improved and the Hawkeyes' offense really hasn't done much the last two games. The difference comes at the line of scrimmage, where Iowa's defensive front overpowers Northwestern's new-look offensive line and neutralizes Tyrell Sutton. The game could come down to special teams or a fourth-quarter turnover, but Iowa holds on at home.

Wisconsin 27, Michigan 17 -- Like two years ago, the game stays close for the first half, but this time Wisconsin pulls away behind its power run game. Michigan's offense will be improved coming off the bye week and running back Sam McGuffie will force the Badgers to tackle in space. But Wisconsin knows how to grind out victories, and in the fourth quarter the Badgers will control the clock with P.J. Hill and force a mistake or two from Wolverines quarterback Steven Threet. Michigan's streak of 22 consecutive wins in Big Ten openers comes to an end.

Purdue 27, Notre Dame 24 -- For the second straight season Notre Dame can't run the ball, and the Irish will be forced to stretch the field with young wideouts Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. The plan could work well, but Purdue's secondary has improved and picks off a pass or two. Curtis Painter put up big numbers (398 pass yards) in his last trip to Notre Dame Stadium, and Purdue's offense looks more balanced with running back Kory Sheets. The Boilers win on a last-minute Chris Summers field goal.

Penn State 38, Illinois 24 -- The Lions face adversity for the first time this season, but ultimately their offense is simply too powerful for Illinois. Illini quarterback Juice Williams has proven he can win in tough environments, but unless Arrelious Benn steps up his play, the offense doesn't have enough firepower to keep pace with Penn State. Lions quarterback Daryll Clark makes an early mistake but recovers, and running backs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green wear down the Illini defensive line.

Byes: None

Season record: 35-4

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten is at the quarter pole, and the favorite has fallen back in the pack. After the first truly revealing weekend of the season, let's see what's happening around the league. 

"When we walked in at halftime, nobody was saying anything," tackle Alex Boone said. "I mean, what the [heck], we're Ohio State -- we should be screaming and swearing and saying everything evil you can think of. And guys are hanging their heads, and you don't know what to say to them. You try screaming, and they just put their head down even more. We can't play like that, and if we play like that the rest of the season, we won't be anything."

Posted by'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."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Oregon tried to give this one away, but Purdue couldn't take it.

Backup quarterback Chris Harper, a true freshman, led No. 17 Oregon on the winning drive after Purdue's Chris Summers missed his second field goal. LeGarrette Blount sealed the win with a 2-yard touchdown run. Harper came in after Justin Roper injured his knee in the first overtime.

The Boilermakers' big-game bugaboo continued as they couldn't knock off a ranked team, a streak running since November 2001. And Joe Tiller fell short of becoming the school's all-time winningest coach.

Full disclosure: I was a little bummed about covering this game on a day with so many appetizing matchups. By this point, I expected Oregon to have a win comfortably in hand. But this turned out to be a classic -- and a missed opportunity for the Big Ten.