The Clinton Herald
---- — COLUMBUS, Ohio — Iowa's Jake Rudock once quarterbacked his Florida high school team in a game at Ohio Stadium.
Today's return to the Horseshoe figures to have a change in atmosphere.
"It'll be a little different," Rudock joked. "There will be a couple thousand more fans."
He will lead the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) against No. 4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0), which is riding a nation's best 18-game winning streak, before more than 105,000 partisan fans.
Rudock, who led Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas to a lopsided victory over Upper Arlington before a small crowd in the cavernous stadium, is now in charge of a run-first offense led by running back Mark Weisman.
But the real backbone of the team is a defense that gives up just 89 yards rushing a game.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are trying hard to concentrate on the Hawkeyes as they iron out a few problem areas and preserve that winning streak.
"It's a great feeling, but with that comes a lot of pressure," safety Corey Brown said. "A responsibility, stepping up and everything like that."
Baylor concerns Rhoads
WACO, Texas — When Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads watched film of Baylor's offense, there was more that impressed him than just all the big numbers.
"They do it so easy. There's just a relative ease that they accomplish all these absurd numbers, yardage, points, and the speed with what they're doing it," Rhoads said. "They're not complicated. ... They just line up and play fast with fast players. It's exciting to watch them."
Rhoads might not feel the same way when he gets an up-close view tonight. The Cyclones (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) will be the homecoming opponent for the 12th-ranked Bears (5-0, 2-0).
Baylor is the nation's most productive offense, with 715 total yards and 63 points a game.
And those are updated numbers after being held to 451 yards and having to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win 35-25 at Kansas State. That was 241 yards and 34 points below the Bears' previous season-low totals.
That game at K-State was the Bears' first on the road, and they passed the test.
"I definitely think that it was a confidence booster," said running back Glasco Martin, whose late TD run clinched the win over K-State. "Just to see our team come together and mature was really a big thing for us that we could step up and win on the road."
Now the Bears are back at Floyd Casey Stadium, where they have averaged 779.5 yards and 70.5 points in four games this season. They have won 16 of their past 17 home games, and nine in a row overall.
Even so, Rhoads wasn't tempted to watch only the K-State film to see what the Wildcats did to slow down Baylor.
"You've got to look at the whole body of work," Rhoads said. "Everywhere you look, they deserve their No. 12 ranking in the country."
Illini defense faces test
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown says No. 25 Wisconsin's offense has it all.
Big offensive line, a pair of big-game backs and a passing game that can make a defense loosened up by the run game pay.
"As a linebacker, you dream of playing games like this in the Big Ten," said Brown, who grew up in SEC country in Memphis, Tenn. "They might be one of the gold standards for running the ball in the country."
But when the Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) come to Illinois tonight, there are two things they'll be missing: a road win and first place in the Big Ten's Leaders Division. One of their losses was at division leader Ohio State.
"To be a good team and have any chance at all to talk to yourself at the end of the year about being a great team, you have to win on the road, and you've got to be able to find a way to get that done," first-year head coach Gary Andersen said. "It hasn't happened yet."
The Badgers' offense is a force. Melvin Gordon's 145 yards rushing a game is No. 3 in the country and James White is ranked 28th with 95.7 a game. As a team, Wisconsin is running for 298.2 yards a game, fifth best in the country.
And quarterback Joel Stave's 216.2 passing yards a game quietly put him at No. 4 in the Big Ten.
Brown is one of the country's better linebackers. His 60 tackles are tops in the conference. But he leads a defense that isn't very good at stopping what the Badgers offense does best. Illinois (3-2, 0-1) gives up 195.4 yards a game on the ground. In the Big Ten, only Indiana is worse.
Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks said his team knew what to expect on today.
"They're going to pound, pound, pound until you wear down," Banks said.