Jan. 1, 2012
[ONE // a strategic collaboration]
With a history of Rose Bowl competition dating back more than a century, the Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 Conference announced this past Wednesday a collaborative effort to enhance long-term scheduling commitments between the two conferences across all sports amongst the 24 institutions. The new Big Ten-Pac-12 collaboration will feature more games between the two conferences in an effort to enhance the experiences for all student-athletes, fans and alumni while broadening the national scope of both conferences. Details of the new effort will continue to unfold as administrators and conference staff members meet in the coming year.
[TWO // illini show they have the hunger]
Congratulations to the Illinois football team, which captured a 20-14 victory over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday. The win snapped the Illini’s six-game losing streak and gave them back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history. The defining moment in the game came on a 39-yard interception return by Terry Hawthorne – a key play for an Illini defensive squad that gave the Bruins fits all night. The Orange and Blue held UCLA, which entered the game averaging 190.7 yards on the ground, to just 18 yards rushing in the loss. Nathan Scheelhaase, who found A.J. Jenkins for a 60-yard TD pass in the first quarter, finished 18-of-30 for 139 yards passing to go along with 110 yards rushing.
[THREE // purdue prefers pizza]
The Big Ten also extends its congratulations to the Purdue Boilermakers, a 37-32 victor over Western Michigan this past Tuesday in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Purdue always seemed to find an edge over the Broncos in all facets of the game. The Boilermakers kicked and recovered two onside kicks, Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, third-string running back Reggie Pegram scored the first two TDs of his career, and Carson Wiggs made two field goals to give Purdue a 27-15 lead at halftime. The Boilermakers also forced five turnovers, including a school bowl-record four interceptions in the win. Purdue's Akeem Shavers ran for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries, filling in for the injured Ralph Bolden, and was named the game's MVP. QB Caleb TerBush was 8-of-13 passing for 101 yards.
[FOUR // iowa and northwestern fall in postseason bowls]
Two other Big Ten football squads competed in the postseason this past week as Iowa fell 31-14 to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl and Northwestern lost 33-22 to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday. The Iowa offense outgained Oklahoma, 292-275, and was led by James Vandenberg, who finished 23-of-44 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Canzeri carried the ball 22 times for 58 yards, and Keenan Davis had five receptions for 76 yards. Marvin McNutt, Jr., finished with four catches for 46 yards in his final collegiate game, giving him 82 receptions for the season. Senior Tyler Nielsen had eight tackles to pace the squad, while senior Mike Daniels had three tackles for loss and two sacks. As for Northwestern, the Wildcats rallied from a 30-7 deficit to make the game interesting late, but the Aggies converted a few key third-down conversions to keep their drives alive in the game’s final minutes. In the final game of his Northwestern career, senior quarterback Dan Persa established himself as Division I's (FBS or FCS) all-time record-holder in completion percentage. Persa wraps up his tenure at 72.7 percent (460-of-633), besting the previous NCAA record of 70.4 as set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan. Senior safety Brian Peters came up with his 12th career interception in the game, giving him sole possession of third place on NU's all-time list, with three of those coming in bowl games.
[FIVE // cousins has class]
Michigan State's Kirk Cousins was selected Thursday as the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Cousins is the second Big Ten standout to earn the honor after Ohio State's James Laurinaitis won the first Senior CLASS Award in 2008. Cousins was also named a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American, while Northwestern's Dan Persa was tabbed as a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American. The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I FBS coaches, national football media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Cousins carries a 3.684 cumulative grade point average and graduated this month with a degree in kinesiology. He is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and very active in the Spartan community.
[SIX // hoosiers and hawkeyes highlight first week of big ten play]
The first week of the Big Ten men’s basketball conference season is in the books and Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue sit atop the standings at 2-0. Despite Michigan State opening Big Ten play by knocking Indiana from the ranks of the undefeated, it was the Hoosiers that ended up making headlines by week’s end. On Saturday, just three weeks after beating top-ranked Kentucky, Indiana upset No. 2 Ohio State 74-70 in Bloomington to mark the first time in school history IU defeated the country’s top-two teams in the same season. In fact, the Hoosiers are the fifth team in the past 10 seasons to beat teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP poll in the same year. Only Indiana, Kansas in 2007-08 and Louisville in 2003-04 achieved the feat in the same month. But the Hoosiers weren’t the only Big Ten team thinking upset this past week. Freshman Aaron White scored 18 points and senior Bryce Cartwright finished with 17 points to lead the Iowa men's basketball team to a 72-65 road victory at No. 11 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon in the Kohl Center. Iowa's win snapped Wisconsin's 23-game home winning streak against non-ranked opponents. It was the Badgers' second loss in 61 games (59-2) during the Bo Ryan era against non-ranked conference teams, and it was Iowa's first road win since 2006, a 70-67 victory at No. 21 Indiana.
[SEVEN // indiana’s crean honored at halfway point]
After leading Indiana to a 12-0 start, the Hoosiers’ men’s basketball coach Tom Crean earned the Jim Phelan award mid-season coaching honor this past week. Following two home wins to the start the season, Indiana went on the road and beat Evansville. It was the first road victory for the Hoosiers in over a year. Wins over Butler, NC State and Notre Dame followed but the biggest win came on Dec. 10 when the Hoosiers knocked off No. 1 ranked Kentucky. Since Crean was honored with the award, the Hoosiers knocked off No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday to move to 1-1 in conference play. The Jim Phelan award is presented annually to the top Division I coach in college basketball. The winner of the 2012 Jim Phelan Award will be announced on March 30 in New Orleans, site of the NCAA men's basketball championship. Previous recipients include Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan (2008) and Minnesota’s Tubby Smith (Kentucky, 2005).
[EIGHT // big ten women’s basketball conference campaign underway]
The Big Ten women’s basketball conference season opened this past Friday with all 12 teams in action. Michigan State opened with a 63-49 victory over Indiana, Michigan topped Illinois 70-50, Iowa ousted Northwestern 86-55, Nebraska defeated Penn State 71-63, Purdue bested Minnesota 57-53, and Ohio State took out Wisconsin, 77-61. Among the highlights, Iowa recorded 12 3-pointers in its win, Michigan’s Carmen Reynolds netted a team-high 16 points to surpass 1,000 career points, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper scored 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win over the 16th-ranked Lady Lions, and OSU junior Tayler Hill led four Buckeyes in double-figures with 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to give head coach Jim Foster his 250th win at Ohio State.
[NINE // hawkeyes take another midlands title]
Iowa junior Matt McDonough earned his second Midlands title in three years to help the Hawkeyes win their tournament record 22nd team title at the 49th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championship on Friday. McDonough captured the 125-pound title to lead Iowa to 152 points, 46.5 more than tournament host Northwestern (105.5). Oklahoma (94.5), Virginia Tech (76.5) and Edinboro (74.5) rounded out the top five. Illinois (73.0) placed sixth, Purdue (48.0) was 10th, and Wisconsin (40.0) was 18th. Other individual highlights included Northwestern’s Jason Welch (157) and Lee Munster (174) titles, and runner-up finishes for Iowa’s Tony Ramos (133), Montell Marion (141), Ethen Lofthouse (174) and Bobby Telford (285).
[TEN // scufflin’ for another wrestling title]
In addition to the Big Ten wrestling teams competing in the Midlands Championship, three other conference squads are competing in the prestigious Southern Scuffle, which began on Sunday. Defending NCAA Champion Penn State owns the lead after the first day of competing with 118.0 points. Minnesota follows closely behind in second with 110.5 points, while Indiana is 13th at 28.5 points. During the tournament’s first day, Penn State’s Edward Ruth and Quentin Wright led the field with three pins each.
[ELEVEN // daley chosen to lead michigan soccer]
A big Big Ten welcome to Chaka Daley, formerly the head coach of the Providence College Friars, who recently accepted the position of head coach for the Michigan men's soccer team. He becomes the second head coach in the program's 12-year history. Daley will arrive in Ann Arbor after leading Providence to an 11-8-1 record and an NCAA at-large bid during the 2011 season. The Friars defeated Dartmouth in the opening round of the 2011 tournament. In his 12 seasons at Providence, Daley's teams collected a 90-111-27 overall record, highlighted by a mark of 72-47-21 over the last seven seasons. He led the Friars to seven consecutive winning seasons and five NCAA Tournament appearances in his final seven seasons. The Friars hosted NCAA Tournament match-ups during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
[TWELVE // nfl passing record comes with a brees]
Finally this week, congratulations to Purdue legend Drew Brees, who broke Dan Marino’s NFL record for passing yards in a season this past Monday. Brees topped Marino's record of 5,084 yards with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles against the Atlanta Falcons. He then passed for 389 yards and five touchdowns on Sunday in the New Orleans Saints’ 45-17 blowout against Carolina to finish the season with 5,476 yards to go with 46 touchdown passes, fourth most in NFL history.