The more his reputation grows, the better Desmond Howard seems to play.
"He's a good athlete. He's quick," said Purdue cornerback Jimmy Young. "But I think what helps him as much as anything is his reputation. I think people like myself give him a deeper cushion than they would another wide receiver because of who he is.
"I got caught out of position on a couple of balls to him, and that's part of the reason why."
Howard caught seven passes for 108 yards, ran one end-around for eight yards and returned two punts for 53 yards to keep the Wolverines, 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten, alone atop the conference standings.
Elvis Grbac completed 11 of 16 passes for 175 yards, including scoring plays of 47 and 17 yards to Howard.
Ricky Powers carried 23 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns on runs of 11 and seven yards. And Tyrone Wheatley had two one-yard scoring runs.
Eric Hunter passed for 66 yards and ran for 22 for Purdue (3-5, 2-3). He was replaced by Matt Pike late in the third quarter.
Howard has caught touchdown passes in each of his last 10 regular-season games, which ties the NCAA record set by BYU's Mike Chronister in 1976-77. In the process, Howard has caught touchdown passes in eight consecutive games this season, tying the single-season record set by Auburn's Terry Beasley in 1971.
"He's everything they say," Purdue Coach Jim Colletto said. "He makes a catch falling down on his back and the ball is on the other side of him and he reaches back and catches it for a touchdown. I mean, he's a hell of a player."
Michigan Coach Gary Moeller said the publicity Howard receives doesn't seem to affect him.
"He's a mature kid, number one, and he knows what has to be done for this team and he's keeping that in mind," Moeller said. "I'm happy with the way Desmond is playing right now."
Grbac's two touchdown passes gave him 22 for the season, breaking the school record of 21 he set last season.
J.D. Carlson kicked six extra points, giving him the Big Ten record at 110 consecutive PAT's. The mark of 107 had been sent by Indiana's Pete Stoyanovich from 1986 to 1988.
Michigan has won 18 of the last 21 games with Purdue, including the last five. The Boilermakers have lost the last 11 at Ann Arbor, dating to 1966.
Michigan had 383 yards in total offense, holding Purdue to 188 yards. The Wolverines also came up with one interception, three sacks and recovered one fumble.
Mistakes led to Michigan's first two touchdowns.
On the fourth play of the game, Purdue center George Ogorek bounced the snap back to punter Eric Bruun. The ball was recovered by Michigan's Deon Johnson at the Purdue 26.
Three plays later, Powers weaved through the middle of the line for an 11-yard touchdown run and Michigan had a 7-0 lead with 11:59 still to play in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Otis Williams got a hand on another Purdue punt for a partial block. The Wolverines took over at their 43 and scored four plays later when Howard took a short pass at the Purdue 45, slipped a tackle at the 35 and broke free to complete a 47-yard scoring play.
Howard's 15-yard punt return set up Michigan at the Purdue 46 early in the third quarter. The Wolverines, relying mostly on the running of Powers, scored 11 plays later with Powers going in from the seven.
Illinois 22, Wisconsin 6--Linebacker Julyon Brown grabbed an errant snap on a punt in the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown, giving the Illini the lead for good in this Big Ten game at Champaign, Ill.
Illinois (5-3, 3-2) broke a two-game losing streak. Wisconsin fell to 3-5 and 0-5.
Defensive lineman Carlos Fowler recovered an Illinois fumble in the end zone in the first quarter for the Badgers' only points.
Brown's touchdown recovery gave Illinois a 7-6 lead and the Illini padded that with Jason Verduzco's eight-yard scoring pass to Elbert Turner late in the third quarter and field goals of 34 and 38 yards by Chris Richardson.
Illinois' other points came on a safety when Wisconsin punter Sam Veit kicked a loose ball out of his end zone in the fourth quarter rather than risk an Illinois recovery for a touchdown.
Illinois limited Wisconsin to five yards in 33 rushes and the Badgers were further hampered by 89 yards in penalties.
Illinois nearly had a touchdown on its first drive of the game, but Turner dropped Verduzco's pass in the end zone, and Wisconsin's Dwight Reese blocked Richardson's 22-yard field-goal attempt.
Indiana 34, Minnesota 8--Vaughn Dunbar rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns and the Hoosiers took advantage of turnovers and penalties for a Big Ten victory over the Gophers at Bloomington, Ind.
Trent Green passed for 241 yards and rushed for one touchdown and Scott Bonnell added two field goals for the Hoosiers (5-2-1, 4-1).
Indiana built a 17-0 halftime lead and widened the margin to 24 points after a 37-yard touchdown run by Dunbar, the nation's No. 2 rusher, on the first possession of the third quarter.
The Gophers (2-6, 1-4) lost the ball twice each on interceptions and fumbles.
Minnesota's only touchdown came on the first play of the fourth quarter, two plays after Indiana's Scott McGowan fumbled a punt at the Hoosiers 11. James King ran one yard on the last play of the third quarter and Keswic Joiner ran 10 yards on a reverse for the touchdown.
A two-point conversion pass from Marquel Fleetwood to Paul Hopewell marked the Gophers' first extra points since the third game of the season.
Indiana countered on its next two possessions with a 33-yard field goal by Bonnell and Dunbar's third touchdown, a one-yard run with just over five minutes left.
The teams were scuffling almost from the start, and a facemask penalty and personal foul on the Gophers helped Indiana advance to the Minnesota 35 on its first possession. A 13-yard run by Green to the 10 helped set up a four-yard touchdown run by Dunbar.