Big Ten season has arrived

h2. Illinois (4-0) v. Northwestern (2-1)

*Ron Zook*

On Northwestern — There’s no question that (Dan Persa) is a great football player. He’s a guy who took them to great heights last year and won a bunch of games for them. Obviously, they felt like he was a guy that had a chance to be in the Heisman Trophy race. He’s a guy that does it all. He’s a winner, he’s a competitor, he can run — he causes a lot of issues with defenses by the way that he runs — and he also throws the football. … A very good balanced attack.

On Big Ten play starting — This is honestly the beginning of the season. Everyone’s been looking forward to it … It’s something our guys are excited about. We got a great occasion here. We’re playing our rivalry, it’s Homecoming and obviously it’s the first Big Ten game, so everybody’s excited and we’re looking forward to Saturday.

*Pat Fitzgerald*

On Illinois — Scheelhaase is as good of a quarterback as there is in this conference. He makes plays not only with his feet but he developed as last year went along and we watched that maturation happen as a thrower. … Their defense is playing lights out right now. They’re stopping the run and getting after the quarterback’s hind parts. It’s impressive to watch on tape.

On Big Ten play starting — I think you guys better buckle it up, it’s going to be one heck of a ride. There’s a lot of talented teams and a lot of talented players, well-coached teams. But this week is a gauntlet, we beat the living bejesus out of each other. Each week is a one-game season and you just got to go out and find a way to win.

h2. Minnesota (1-3) v. Michigan (4-0)

*Tracy Claeys (defensive coordinator)*

On Michigan — Defensively, the different looks and some of the blitzes they throw at you make you make adjustments on offense. Hopefully offensively we can take what they give us and stay out of the negative-yardage plays and not turn the ball over. Offensively, with the quarterback (Denard Robinson) and his ability to run the football and the zone-read play. He creates challenges; you can get one person on him and everybody’s had trouble tackling him with one and it’s hard to put two on him and stop the running back. … It’s a challenge stopping the quarterback. It’s easier said than done.

*Brady Hoke*

On Minnesota — You look at their offensive personnel and they’re very skilled. I think the three returning starters or four returning starters up front, the talent is supposed to be awfully good. What they did to (Southern California) and how they were in that football game the whole time, there’s a great deal of good coaching going on. … They’re playing well as a team and I’m sure they’re not satisfied and won’t be if I know (Minnesota head coach) Jerry (Kill) well enough, but I’m impressed by what I see.

On Big Ten play starting — It’s a whole new season getting into Big Ten play and it’s exciting. We’ve got a long way to go as a football team with a lot of improvements that we need to make.

h2. Penn State (3-1) v. Indiana (1-3)

*Joe Paterno*

On Indiana — Every game is tough. We gotta go out there and we gotta play a good football game and I’m sure they’ll be ready to play us. … We’re going out there with the idea that it’s going to be a really tough football game; we’ll have to play better than we have all year.

*Kevin Wilson*

On Penn State — “Offensively I’m sure they’ll try and establish the run. … Defensively … the front seven’s going to be big and stout. They typically can and try to stop most people in the running game with their front and linebacker play.”

h2. Purdue (2-1) v. Iowa (3-1)

*Danny Hope*

On Notre Dame — If you don’t look at the scoreboard they’ve been a great football team. They’re very, very talented, they have great skill players on offense for their quarterbacks to get into and some guys who can make really big plays, especially in space. … They’re certainly by far the best team we’ve played thus far and perhaps the most talented team we’ll play this year.

*Kirk Ferentz*

On having a bye week — We’re a team that’s clearly in a developmental mode right now … This comes at a really good time for us, I think we know a lot more about our team and our personnel than we did a month ago. This gives us a chance to maybe rethink what we’re gonna move forward.

h2. Michigan State (3-1) v. Ohio State (3-1)

*Mark Dantonio*

On Ohio State — Ohio State’s going to run the football. They’re going to come out and make a point in doing that, so it’ll be important that we make them one dimensional or at least get ahead on the sticks as many times as we can to make it a third-and-long situation. … When you look at it, (Ohio State is) the one team we have not beaten here in the last four years.

On Big Ten play starting — When you look at Big Ten football or football in general, things usually run in cycles. Five years ago there was a lot more empty (backfield) and a lot more quarterback runs. I think that’s still there, but I think you’re seeing a trend toward teams coming back and saying, ‘We gotta be able to run the ball from a two-back formation, we gotta be able to have a play-action passing game.’ If you’re going to be a champion in this conference you’ve gotta play great defense.

*Luke Fickell*

On Michigan State — It’s always the pressure they put on, but their ability to cover as well. Up front, they don’t have to probably bring pressure all the time because of the four guys they got up front do a great job at being able to get pressure with the four, or even the three sometimes. … Just their overall package and scheme of things that you always got to be worried about pressure, but when guys can get to you without bringing the extra guy, that’s what bothers you the most.

On Big Ten play starting — Obviously we’re excited to start Big Ten play. Last week was an exciting week for us; finally we got students back on campus, so our stadium felt a little bit more like it should for the game on Saturday. We’re excited to get started this week and we’ll continue to move forward.

h2. Wisconsin (4-0) v. Nebraska (4-0)

*Bret Bielema*

On Nebraska — The things that really jump out as you get to watch Nebraska on film is offensively, defensively, special teams, there’s a well-thought-out plan no matter what the scheme is, no matter what the call is, the kids seem to be onboard with what it is. I think that any time you see that in a program, no matter what the basic the scheme is, that’s when you find successful programs. I think Bo’s brought that to the table there at Nebraska.

On Big Ten play starting — Good to open up Big Ten play finally. Very excited to have the first game with Nebraska in our conference, a team that is second-to-none in their reputation in everything they’ve done in the past couple of years and way,way beyond that. … Hopefully we’ll start off the Big Ten in the right way.

*Bo Pelini*

On Wisconsin — They’re extremely well coached. I think that they’re physical, they’re tough. They execute very well. Everything they do is well thought out. They have balance in everything they do and they’re very sound in what they try to do. It’s obvious that they have talent, but they are also an extremely well-coached football team, and they do a good job.