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Illini riled Boilermakers

Now here's a switch. A bottom-feeder heading into the season, Illinois finds itself answering questions about whether it was running up the score when starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:36 left in its 44-10 pounding of Purdue.

''I probably wouldn't have done that,'' Boilermaker coach Danny Hope said. ''But I'm not going to cry about it. That's [Zook's] call. If that makes him feel better about his team, fine. It's done.''

Zook seemed genuinely surprised when asked about it on Sunday.

''Trust me, that wasn't anything we were thinking about,'' Zook said. ''When I talked to Danny after the game, everything was complimentary. That's all news to me.''

Asked why backup quarterback Miles Osei wasn't put in the game, Zook said, ''We thought about that, but they kept blitzing and we didn't want to take a chance of Miles getting hurt, or anything bad happening to him.''

To keep Scheelhaase out of harm's way, Illinois might have turned to Eddie McGee, who took eight or 10 snaps as a change-of-pace and probably will continue to do so.

One possible explanation: If Purdue, which was stout against the run, was going to keep blitzing, Illinois was going to keep passing.Kicking it around

While we're on the subject of orange-and-blue conspiracy theories, Zook sounded ruffled when told that kicker Derek Dimke and cover guy Nate Bussey planned the line-drive kickoff that bounced off Purdue up-man Joe Holland, who was eager to drop back into his blocking assignment, and right back to Bussey.

''We were supposed to do a hard squib,'' Dimke said, ''and the guy lined up right in front of us almost facing backwards, and Nate was ready to go on the kickoff, I just kicked it right at him and fortunately we got a good bounce.''

From there, Illinois went down the field and led 14-0 before Purdue had run its fourth offensive play. But Zook was not pleased with Dimke.

''I'm going to talk to Derek if he thinks that was intentional,'' the coach said. ''No. 1, that's pretty hard to do. No. 2, if he is trying to do that and it hits somebody and they get on the ball there, we'll have some issues.''

Zook had no issue with the result, though.

''The ball just bounced right for us,'' he said. ''We're getting a few breaks. Finally.''

The Illini hope to keep it going on Saturday at Michigan. Kickoff has been set for 11 a.m. on ESPN.Sparty still Rosy-

Iowa turned Michigan State's dream of an unbeaten season into mush by crushing the Spartans Saturday. But when Ohio State travels to Iowa City on Nov. 20, don't be surprised if the Spartans are big Hawkeye fans.

That's the only remaining head-to-head matchup left for the Big Ten's four one-loss teams. If all four win out, an Iowa victory could give Michigan State its first Rose Bowl trip since 1987.

If Michigan State and Wisconsin all finish 7-1, Iowa would be out because of its overall record, and the Spartans would trump the Badgers by virtue of their head-to-head victory.

If there's a three-way tie among Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, though, it's a different story because all three overall records would be the same. In that case, the school that's highest ranked in the final BCS standings goes to Pasadena.

Under the standings released Sunday, Wisconsin is No. 9, Ohio State is 11th, Michigan State is 14th and Iowa 16th. Ducks atop BCS

Oregon moved up to No. 1 in the new BCS standings, trading places with No. 2 Auburn.

Also of note, TCU moved up to No. 3, trading places with No. 4 Boise State. Being leapfrogged by the Horned Frogs, another potential BCS buster, ought to leave the Broncos feeling as blue as their football field.

In other non-automatic qualifier news, Utah jumped up to No. 5. This is the first time three non-AQs have cracked the top five, but it will be shortlived. TCU plays at Utah on Saturday.

Bottom line: If the non-AQs think the middle initial should be removed from BCS to describe their title-game chances, they're right. This is looking like Oregon vs. Auburn (or No. 6 Alabama). And if Oregon is upset, look for another power-conference team like No. 7 Nebraska or No. 8 Oklahoma to bounce on up.SUN-TIMES' BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS With Sparty humbled by Iowa, a three-way co-championship looms. Ohio State-Iowa is the last remaining head-to-head meeting for the four contenders.


1. Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1) 2

2. Iowa (6-2, 3-1) 3

*2a. Nebraska (7-1) 3a

3. Ohio State (8-1, 4-1) 4

4. Michigan State (8-1, 4-1) 1

5. Illinois (5-3, 3-2) 5

6. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) 6

7. Penn State (5-3, 2-2) 8

8. Michigan (5-3, 1-3) 7

9. Purdue (4-4, 2-2) 9

10. Indiana (4-4, 0-4) 10

11. Minnesota (1-8, 0-5) 11

*--Will join Big Ten in 2011