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October 30, 2006Penn State linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford, Pa.) has earned his second Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor of the season after playing an instrumental role in the Nittany Lions' 12-0 win at Purdue.
Connor recorded a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo) and grabbed his second interception of the season, at the PSU 17-yard-line. The junior from Wallingford, Pa. earned his fourth double figure tackle game of the season and the 10th of his career.
The Nittany Lions earned their first shut out on Saturday since a 49-0 win over Northwestern in 2002, a span of 49 games. Purdue was held scoreless for the first time since a 35-0 loss to Notre Dame in 1996, a year before Joe Tiller became head coach. Penn State forced three turnovers and recorded three sacks against the Boilermakers.
The Penn State defense ran its streak of not allowing a touchdown to nine quarters. Purdue came into the game averaging 29.4 points per game and was No. 4 in the nation in passing offense at 309.6 ypg, but was limited to 184 yards with two interceptions by the Lions. The Boilers were No. 8 nationally in total offense at 448.5 ypg, but were held to 246 yards, more than 200 below their average, by the tenacious PSU defense. Purdue's 246 yards of offense was its seventh-lowest total under Joe Tiller.
The 2003 Parade Linebacker of the Year at Strath Haven High School, Connor previously was honored by the Big Ten after making 13 tackles, with a career-high 3.5 tackles for losses, including two sacks, in the season opening win over Akron. Connor and Purdue defensive end Anthony Spencer are the only players to earn conference Defensive Player of the Week honors more than once this season.
Connor is one of 15 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player, along with teammate Paul Posluszny (Aliquippa, Pa.), the 2005 Bednarik and Butkus Awards winner. Penn State is one of two schools with a pair of semifinalists for the Bednarik Award.
For the season, Connor leads the Lions and is third in the Big Ten with 80 tackles (54 solo). He is third on the squad with 7.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks for minus-30 yards. He also has two interceptions, has forced one fumble and recorded a safety on a sack against Illinois.
Penn State has had five Big Ten Player of the Week selections thus far in 2006: Defense: Connor (Akron and Purdue) and Posluszny (Illinois); Special Teams: punter Jeremy Kapinos (Springfield, Va.) (Ohio State and Illinois).
Coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-2) play their final road game of the season on Saturday, visiting No. 17 Wisconsin (8-1, 5-1) at 12:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. CT. ABC, the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com will air the game.