Jan. 8, 2012
[ONE // sweet as sugar for wolverines]
Congratulations to the Michigan football team, which concluded the Big Ten bowl season with a thrilling 23-20 overtime victory over Virginia Tech in the 78th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this past Tuesday. Sophomore kicker Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal in the first overtime session to give the Wolverines their first Sugar Bowl win and earn the Bowl Championship Series “quadruple crown,” having now claimed victories in each of the four BCS games (Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar). Junior Hemingway was named the game’s MVP since both of his catches in the game went for touchdowns. He gave Michigan a 7-6 lead after catching a 45-yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson with 49 seconds left in the first half, and then added an 18-yard TD on a grab at the back of the end zone at 9:43 of the third quarter.
[TWO // putting the lid on the bowls]
As the Big Ten bowl season came to an end on a high note this past week, the conference office began putting a lid on the league’s bowl performance. Throughout the week, BigTen.org posted several interesting tidbits on not only the conference’s results this year, but also historical notes on where the Big Ten ranks among other BCS power conferences. Among the notes posted Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Big Ten sent a record 10 teams to bowl games this season, the highest total of any conference in the country. The league has also won three BCS games over the last three seasons, which ranks second only to the SEC. The Big Ten and SEC are also the only two conferences that have seen three different schools take home BCS bowl trophies in the last three years, as Michigan claimed this year's Sugar Bowl, Iowa won the 2010 Orange Bowl, and Ohio State won the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. And over the past three seasons, the Big Ten has faced 12 teams ranked among the BCS top 16, which is more than any other conference. The SEC will have played 10 top-16 teams, followed by the Pac-12 (9), ACC (5) and Big 12 (4).
[THREE // playing at the next level]
With 101 former student-athletes from current Big Ten schools appearing on NFL playoff rosters, the Big Ten is one of three conferences with 100 or more players in the NFL playoffs. The SEC (128) and ACC (110) also boast more than 100 former players in the NFL playoffs, followed by the Pac-12 (83), Big 12 (60) and Big East (41). The Big Ten is also one of two conferences to have nine schools with eight or more players on playoff rosters, and one of three to have every school in the conference with at least two players on playoff rosters. Only 18 college football programs feature 11 or more former players taking the field in the NFL playoffs, including Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes lead all Big Ten teams and are tied for third among all schools with 17 former players taking the field. The Wolverines are tied for 10th nationally with 13 standouts and the Badgers are tied for 15th with 11 players. Illinois, Michigan State and Nebraska each have nine players on playoff rosters, while Iowa, Penn State and Purdue check in with eight. Indiana has four players in the playoffs, while Northwestern has three and Minnesota has two.
[FOUR // a new nittany lion leader]
The Big Ten would like to welcome new Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien, as the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator was named the school’s 15th head football coach in its storied 125-year history. O'Brien's appointment was announced Friday evening by Penn State president Rodney Erickson and Dave Joyner, Acting Director of Athletics. A member of the Patriots' coaching staff since 2007, including the last three mentoring the quarterbacks, including Michigan great Tom Brady, O'Brien spent 14 seasons in the college game on the staffs of Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke.
[FIVE // sparty’s party and the hurryin’ hoosiers]
After two weeks of the Big Ten men’s basketball season, Michigan State remains atop the conference standings at 3-0, following a thrilling 63-60 overtime win at Wisconsin on Tuesday. Right on the Spartans’ heels are several Big Ten teams at 3-1, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue. The Fighting Illini held off both of its opponents this week, topping Northwestern 57-56 on Wednesday before a 59-54 win over Nebraska on Saturday. The Hoosiers, 15-1 on the season, kept the momentum going this past week with a 73-71 over No. 16 Michigan on Thursday and an 88-82 road win at Penn State on Sunday. Despite the loss to the Hoosiers, the Wolverines responded Sunday to hold No. 18 Wisconsin to a season-low 41 points in an 18-point 59-41 home win. Ohio State opened the week with a 71-40 win over Nebraska and then used 28 points from Jared Sullinger to earn another dominant win, a 76-47 result over Iowa on Saturday. As for Purdue, the Boilermakers took down Minnesota 79-66 on Sunday after falling to Penn State on Thursday, 65-45.
[SIX // cool about cousy]
Three Big Ten basketball stars were on point this week as they were tabbed among 20 finalists for the 2012 Bob Cousy Award. Congratulations to Michigan's Trey Burke, Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor on being named to the list. The Big Ten is second among all conferences with three finalists for the award given to the top collegiate male basketball point guard. The Selection Committee is comprised of up to 30 members representing the following constituent groups: Hall of Famers, Head Coaches, Sports Information Directors and the Media. The winner will be presented the award at the Hall of Fame Class Announcement on Championship Monday of Final Four weekend.
[SEVEN // let the journey begin]
BTN’s first original series and its highest rated last year, The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012, presented by GMC, returned for another season this past Sunday night. The Emmy-nominated, documentary-style program takes viewers deep inside Big Ten basketball programs, spending consecutive days with different conference teams to follow the season’s most compelling storylines during the 10-week march toward the Big Ten Tournament. The season premiere featured Michigan State senior forward Draymond Green and the connection he shares with his hometown of Saginaw, Mich. The show also introduced fans to Indiana freshman forward Cody Zeller and highlight a special moment as the 1987 Indiana National Championship Team returns to Bloomington. The first of the 10-episode series also examined Purdue coach Matt Painter’s Indiana roots, and showed how two Ohio State McDonald’s All-Americans, Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, took different paths to success in Columbus.
[EIGHT // three-way tie at 3-0]
The Big Ten women’s basketball season is in full swing as Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue sit atop the conference standings at 3-0. Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State follow close behind at 2-1. Four Big Ten games were contested on Monday due the New Year’s Day holiday. Minnesota dropped Indiana 84-43, Ohio State saw 58 of its points come from Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill in an 84-71 victory over Iowa, while Penn State routed Wisconsin 82-49 and Purdue’s Courtney Moses drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Boilers a 64-63 win over Illinois. In the mid-week matchup, Michigan State earned its 10th-straight win over Michigan with a 60-55 result on Wednesday. On Thursday, Iowa stopped Illinois 69-62 in overtime, Nebraska used a 30-4 run in the first half to get past Indiana 62-48, Minnesota earned its first win at Northwestern since 2007 with a 68-60 decision, and Purdue topped Wisconsin, 63-52. Then on Saturday, Michigan upset a ranked Ohio State ballclub for the third straight season, 73-62, while Michigan State earned a 75-65 victory over Penn State in front of a nationally-televised audience on CBS. To cap the week, the Badgers earned their first conference win of the season with a 70-67 victory over Illinois, Northwestern captured its first win at Indiana since 1998 with a 69-61 final, and Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore reeled off 22 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and three steals to give the 19th-ranked Huskers a 77-72 win at Iowa.
[NINE // wrestling rings in the new year with fireworks]
Big Ten wrestling opened the New Year in prime fashion with several conference duals televised by BTN. No. 7 Illinois was the big winner of the week, capturing a 24-9 win at Purdue, a 38-6 result against Lock Haven, and an impressive 31-9 victory at No. 8 Michigan. No. 6 Ohio State dropped both of its conference matchups on the week, but both were to top-15 opponents on the road. The Buckeyes fell 18-16 to No. 14 Nebraska on Friday and 24-13 at third-ranked Minnesota on Sunday. In other action Sunday, No. 4 Penn State beat Michigan State 36-6 and No. 17 Northwestern topped Wisconsin 33-9. The Wildcats previously fell to Michigan 28-9 on Friday. Top-ranked Iowa was also in action this week. The Hawkeyes took out Indiana 26-12 before falling at home to No. 2 Oklahoma State in the sport’s top dual of the season so far. Iowa and Oklahoma State split the 10 weight classes, but the Cowboys earned the 17-16 victory after owning a 54-51 advantage in match points.
[TEN // doing flips]
The 2012 Big Ten women's gymnastics season got underway this past weekend with five of the eight conference squads competing. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State each open their respective 2012 schedules this weekend, while Illinois, Michigan and Nebraska this upcoming week. Iowa and Michigan State opened competition on Friday as the Spartans fell to Washington, 193.175-191.875, and Iowa finished fourth at 193.875 points against No. 19 Arizona, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 17 Auburn and No. 12 LSU at the Cancun Classic. A pair of Big Ten squads squared off Saturday with Ohio State winning at Minnesota, 195.375-195.075. Penn State was also in action this weekend, capturing a first place finish in a tri-meet hosted by West Virginia. The Nittany Lions earned a team score of 195.775, while West Virginia finished second with a team score of 195.100 and Maryland took third with a 194.225. Michigan and Nebraska begin their seasons on Jan. 13, as the Wolverines host Ohio State, and the Huskers welcome Denver. Illinois hosts Minnesota on Jan. 14 for the Fighting Illini's first competition of the season.
[ELEVEN // rank ‘em for the spring]
Nine Big Ten men's tennis teams, 14 players, and 10 doubles pairs appeared in the first Campbell/ITA national top-75 rankings for the spring, with three squads, four singles players and five pairs taking spots in the top-25. Ohio State clocks in at No. 3 to lead all conference teams. Illinois checks in at No. 17, while Minnesota follows at No. 25. Illinois’ Dennis Nevolo is rated second in singles, followed by Michigan’s Evan King at No. 6, Ohio State’s Blaz Rola at No. 8 and Illinois’ Roy Kalmanovich at No. 24. In doubles, Rola joins his OSU teammate Chase Buchanan at No. 1, while Nebraska’s pair of Christopher Aumueller and Benedikt Lindheim is seventh and Buchanan and OSU’s Peter Kobelt are 10th. The Buckeyes’ tandem of Ille Van Engelen and Devin McCarthy is 15th and Michigan’s Shaun Bernstein and Evan King sits 22nd.
[TWELVE // women among the nation’s best as well]
Finally this week, six Big Ten women's tennis teams appear in the Campbell/ITA Rankings, with two earning spots in the top-15. Michigan sits at No. 10, followed by Northwestern at No. 12. Nebraska checks in at No. 39, while Ohio State clocks in at No. 55. Purdue follows suit at No. 61, while Illinois appears at No. 69. Individually, 12 singles players and five doubles pairs have been ranked nationally, including two tandems in the top 25. Northwestern’s Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova are sixth nationally, followed by the Michigan pair of Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender in 24th. Northwestern’s Kate Turvy leads all Big Ten singles players at No. 26.