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PURDUE LOOKS TO SOLVE MICHIGAN DEFENSE

Michigan's defensive backs have bullied and beaten Purdue's receivers in three straight wins over the Boilermakers.

The Boilermakers know that streak will continue today (3:30, Ch. 7) if their high-powered offense struggles again.

"Their secondary has basically controlled us over the last couple years," Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton said.

Orton threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times in last year's 31-3 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines confused him by disguising their coverages and frustrated the Boilermakers' receivers with their physical style of play.

No. 12 Purdue can expect more of the same from No. 13 Michigan.

Michigan has won 17 of the 20 games in the series since 1980 and is 4-1 since coach Joe Tiller started to rebuild the Boilermakers eight years ago.

This time, however, the Wolverines (6-1 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten) will be facing a different Orton. The senior has thrown for 1,877 yards, 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

"I think right now he has got such great awareness of what every guy on his team is going to do," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

This season, Orton is making much better decisions, and has a deeper receiving corps to throw to thanks to the emergence of Kyle Ingraham and freshman Dorien Bryant.

The Boilermakers (5-1, 2-1) are averaging 37.7 points a game, third in the nation, and 485.3 yards. But they haven't had much success against talented defenses thus far.

Last week, No. 6 Wisconsin held Purdue to 17 points, forced three turnovers by Orton, and shut down star receiver Taylor Stubblefield.

Meanwhile, No. 24 Notre Dame (5-2) will be out to protect its turf against 4-2 Boston College today (2:30, Ch. 2).

Boston College has won three straight against Notre Dame, including one at South Bend two years ago that left the Fighting Irish seething. Notre Dame and Boston College are the only two Catholic colleges that play Division I-A football.

In other televised games today, Northwestern is at No. 6 Wisconsin (noon, ESPN); No. 25 Iowa at Penn State (noon, ESPN 2); Rutgers at Pittsburgh (noon, Ch. 67); Indiana at Ohio State (noon, MSG); Lafayette at Fordham (1 p.m., Empire); Alabama at No. 11 Tennessee (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4); No. 10 Georgia at Arkansas (7 p.m., ESPN 2); No. 8 Texas at Texas Tech (7 p.m., TBS); No. 4 Miami at North Carolina State (7:45 p.m., ESPN); Fresno State at No. 19 Boise State (10:15 p.m., ESPN 2).
Southern California-Washington has traditionally been a big game in the Pac-10, matching two of the conference's best teams.

Not this time.

While No. 1 USC has certainly done its part with 15 straight wins, the Huskies head into today's game one loss away from their first losing season since 1976.

"They're still capable of winning," USC quarterback Matt Leinart said. "They're still capable of making plays."

Leinart may have a point. The Huskies (1-5, 0-3) have 117 first downs to 107 for their opponents, and have been outgained by an average of just 17 yards per game.

But they've been outscored 172-98.

The Trojans' last three wins came over previously unbeaten opponents. They were extended to the limit in the first two, beating Stanford, 31-28, and No. 7 California, 23-17. Then came a 45-7 victory over No. 21 Arizona State last weekend.

USC (6-0, 3-0) has won three of the last four games against Washington, including a 43-23 triumph last year -- its first win at Husky Stadium since 1993.

In other games involving teams ranked in the Associated Press' Top 25 poll, Kansas is at No. 2 Oklahoma; Kentucky at No. 3 Auburn; No. 5 Florida State at Wake Forest; No. 7 California at Arizona; UNLV at No. 9 Utah; No. 14 Virginia at Duke; Colorado at No. 17 Texas A&M; Troy at No. 18 LSU; No. 20 Florida at Mississippi State; UCLA at No. 21 Arizona State; and No. 22 Oklahoma State at Missouri.
Ohio State tailback Lydell Ross was suspended for today's game against Indiana (noon, MSG) by coach Jim Tressel for undisclosed reasons.

Ohio State (3-3, 0-3) is trying to avoid its first 0-4 start in the Big Ten since 1922. The Buckeyes have lost three straight.

Ross has started all six games, rushing for 343 yards with three touchdowns and a 3.6-yard average per carry. He led the Buckeyes in rushing last year.

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