Hoosiers Look for 4-0 Start Against Illinois

    Go Hoosiers! Junior running back Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers host Illinois at noon on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Junior running back Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers host Illinois at noon on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 18, 2007

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    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Looking for its first 4-0 start since 1990, the Indiana football team (3-0) hosts Illinois (2-1) on Saturday, Sept. 22. Kickoff is set for noon EDT at Memorial Stadium (49,225) and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

    Mark Neely will handle play-by-play duties and he will be joined by analysts Glen Mason and Charles Davis. The game can also be heard on the statewide IU Radio Network with Don Fischer (play-by-play), Pete Compise (analyst) and Joe Smith (pre-game, halftime and post-game) on the call.

    Former Hoosier running back and 2007 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Anthony Thompson will be recognized during the game as will the 1987 Peach Bowl team on its 20th anniversary.

    Last Time Out
    The Hoosiers moved to 3-0 for the second time in three years and Bill Lynch became the second straight IU coach to open his career with three consecutive victories (Terry Hoeppner, 2005), as Indiana dropped Akron, 41-24, on Sept. 15. Kellen Lewis ran for a career-high 199 yards, passed for 137, and the sophomore accounted for five scores in the victory.

    IU rushed for 338 total yards, the most since the Hoosiers ran for 489 at Michigan State on Nov. 10, 2001. Lewis' 199 rushing yards were the third-most for an IU quarterback and the most since Antwaan Randle El ran for 209 against Illinois on Nov. 4, 2000. His previous career-best was a 103-yard game in last year's season finale at Purdue.



    Junior James Hardy caught four passes for 65 yards, and his fourth-quarter TD reception was his fifth of the year and the 25th of his career. Hardy moved into fifth place in Hoosier history in both receiving yards (1,860) and receptions (122).

    The IU defense held Akron to 120 yards rushing on 41 carries and posted four sacks for a total of 39 yards lost. Sophomore Greg Middleton had two more sacks for the Hoosiers, moving his team-high total to five on the year. Indiana now has 17 team sacks on the season, three more than it had all of last year.

    Lewis Named Big Ten Offensive POW
    After rushing for a career-high 199 yards against Akron - the third-highest total ever for an IU quarterback - Kellen Lewis was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. It is the third time the sophomore has earned the honor with all three coming over the last nine weeks of football.

    The Jacksonville, Fla., native is the first Hoosier since Antwaan Randle El (six honors from 1998-2001) to collect a trio of conference POW honors, and that is who Lewis was chasing on Saturday. Randle El holds the top-two rushing slots for a quarterback. He posted 210 yards vs. Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2000 and added a 209-yard effort at Illinois on Nov. 4 that same season.

    Lewis rushed for a pair of scores and added three TD strikes through the air. He finished with a 19-of-24 effort (79.2 percent) against the Zips, which is the second-highest single-game passing completion percentage in school history.

    With His Feet...
    Kellen Lewis is the top rushing quarterback in the nation and sits 31st nationally averaging 105.67 rushing yards per game. The sophomore ran for a career-high 199 yards - the third-most for an IU quarterback - on 18 attempts, rushed for a pair of scores and broke off a career-best 64-yard run in the team's win over Akron. It marked his second-career 100-yard rushing game and the most yards on the ground for an IU player since Levron Williams ran for 251 yards at Michigan State on Nov. 10, 2001.

    Former Hoosier great Antwaan Randle El holds the top-two rushing slots for a quarterback. Randle El posted 210 yards vs. Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2000 and added a 209-yard effort at Illinois on Nov. 4 that same season.

    Lewis has 758 career rushing yards in 14 games, good for a 54.1 per game average. He has also crossed the goal line eight times as a rusher.

    With His Arm...
    Lewis is just as lethal with his arm. With his three touchdowns through the air against Akron, he moved into a share of sixth place on the Hoosiers' career touchdown passing. Lewis is on the verge of entering the top 10 in career yards, completions and attempts.

    His 19-of-24 effort (79.2 percent) against the Zips was the second-highest single-game passing completion percentage in school history. Lewis ranks 24th nationally in passing efficiency this season and has one 300-yard, five 250-yard and nine 200-yard passing efforts, which ranks fifth in IU history, in his career. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes on six occasions, including all three games this season.

    Kellen Lewis Is The Total Package
    Combining his passing and rushing totals, Lewis ranks 15th in the nation with 320 yards of total offense per game. He is responsible for 24 points each time out, which is tied for fifth nationally.

    Lewis' five touchdowns against Akron marked the second time in his career he reached that benchmark. He recorded six scores (five passes, one rush) against Michigan State last season (Oct. 28). The Jacksonville, Fla., native has eclipsed the 300-yard total offense mark in two games this season and six times in his career.

    In his last 10 games, Lewis has thrown for 21 scores, rushed for seven, averaged 222.1 yards through the air, 62.5 yards on the ground and thrown only seven interceptions. He has eclipsed the 250-yard passing mark on five occasions and surpassed 300 yards of total offense five times.

    Under Pressure
    A major point of emphasis during preseason camp on the defensive side of the ball was to get to the quarterback. The Hoosier defense has responded this season. After collecting only 14 sacks during the entire 2006 season, the Hoosiers have eclipsed that total and own 17 this season. Indiana recorded five in its season-opening win over Indiana State, eight in its victory over Western Michigan and four in its triumph over Akron. The eight sacks were the most in a game since the Hoosiers recorded that same total in a 24-8 victory over Kentucky on Sept. 18, 1993.

    IU is tied for the top spot in the nation with Penn State and Michigan State with its 17 sacks. Sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton is leading the way up front, sharing the No. 1 spot in the league and second nationally with five sacks. Kenny Kendal led the 2006 Hoosiers with just four sacks the entire season. Ten different Hoosiers have recorded at least one sack and 14.5 of the 17 sacks have come from the defensive line. Indiana also is tied for sixth nationally with 9.67 tackles for loss per game.

    Middleton and defensive lineman Brian Zematis picked up the first sacks of their careers against Indiana State, while junior defensive end Ryan Marando (1.5), sophomore defensive lineman Emile Bass (1.0) and junior cornerback Christopher Phillips (1.0) secured their first-career sacks at WMU.

    No Middle Ground
    Greg Middleton received his first start in the season opener vs. Indiana State and has been the Hoosiers' most disruptive defensive force. The right end out of Pike High School in Indianapolis shares second nationally with his five sacks, which surpassed Kenny Kendal's team-leading total of four from one season ago. Middleton recorded the first two sacks of his career against ISU and reached that total again vs. Akron. He has also collected a forced fumble and two pass breakups.

    Middleton saved his most impressive feat for the team's win at Western Michigan, where he scooped up a fumble forced by tackle Greg Brown and rumbled 44 yards for his first-career touchdown. The score advanced the Hoosiers' lead to 17-7 in the second quarter and was the first fumble TD return by an IU defensive player since Troy Grosfield brought home a 15-yard fumble against Wisconsin on Sept. 30, 2006.

    In A Rush
    Throughout preseason camp head coach Bill Lynch emphasized the importance of a running game, and his team really took it to heart. After rushing for 338 yards against Akron - the most for a Hoosier team since a 489-yard effort on Nov. 10, 2001 at Michigan State - Indiana ranks seventh nationally with 258.67 rushing yards per contest. IU also rushed for 217 rushing yards in its season-opening win over Indiana State and 221 at Western Michigan, giving the team four straight games over 200 yards (215 at Purdue, Nov. 18). Indiana last ran for 200-plus yards in four straight contests back in 2001, reaching the benchmark six consecutive times (Oct. 20-Dec. 1).

    Additionally, three rushers tallied at least 50 yards for the fourth straight game vs. Akron, as quarterback Kellen Lewis (199), junior Marcus Thigpen (78) and sophomore Demetrius McCray (60) reached the 50-yard barrier. All three Hoosiers are averaging over 50 yards per game with Lewis (105.7) leading the way followed by McCray (67.5) and Thigpen (64.7).

    Dating back to Indiana's game against Wisconsin (Sept. 30) last season, when Kellen Lewis took over as the Hoosiers' quarterback, IU has rushed for over 100 yards in nine of its last 11 games, over 150 yards eight times, over 200 yards on four occasions and now over 300 yards once. In the 11 games, Indiana has averaged 168.0 rushing yards per game.

    Put It On The Board
    The Hoosier offense has lit up the scoreboard over the first three weeks of the season. Indiana ranks third in the Big Ten, averaging 44.3 points per game, and has totaled 133 points. The 133 points is the team's highest three-game total since a 137-point outburst Sept. 22-Oct. 6 back in 1990.

    Indiana leads the league and is seventh with 258.7 rushing yards per game while sitting third with 477.7 yards of total offense per contest. Kellen Lewis is second in the conference with 320 total yards, fourth with 214.3 passing yards and sixth with 105.7 rushing yards per game. Junior wide receiver James Hardy shares fifth with an average of 81.7 yards each time out and is tied for sixth in scoring (10.00).


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