Jan. 11, 2009
[ONE // buckeyes close out football season in a fiesta thriller]
The Big Ten football season concluded last Monday night when Ohio State lost a 24-21 heartbreaker to No. 3 Texas in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. As a team, OSU rushed for 203 yards against Texas’ No. 2 rated rushing defense, which was allowing just 73.5 rushing yards per game. The 10th-ranked Buckeyes were led by Chris “Beanie” Wells and his 106 rushing yards on 16 carries before he left with a concussion in the third quarter. OSU’s fourth-leading rusher of all-time ended his three-year career with 3,382 yards.
[TWO // michigan’s hutchinson and howard, penn state’s kapinos honored by orange bowl]
Former Michigan football standouts Steve Hutchinson and Desmond Howard were honored this past week at the FedEx Orange Bowl. Hutchinson, who played from 1997-2000 and is currently an All-Pro offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings, was named to the FedEx Orange Bowl All-Time Team as a part of its 75th anniversary celebration. Hutchinson, who is one of only two Wolverines to garner four first-team All-Big Ten honors, was joined on the team by Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos (2006). In addition, Michigan's 1991 Heisman Trophy recipient Desmond Howard was honored during the Orange Bowl along with nine other Heisman Trophy winners.
[THREE // big ten represented in final football polls…]
Four Big Ten football teams ended the season ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Poll. Penn State (11-2) led the conference at No. 8 in both polls, while Ohio State (10-3) was ranked ninth by the AP and 11th in the coaches’ poll. Both polls agreed on Iowa (9-4) and Michigan State’s final standing, as the Hawkeyes finished 20th overall and the Spartans (9-4) were 24th. Northwestern (9-4) ended the season receiving votes in both polls.
[FOUR // …and final attendance figures too]
The NCAA recently released the final football attendance figures for the 2008 season and once again, the Big Ten reigned supreme. Michigan (108,571 average), Penn State (108,254) and Ohio State (104,976) ranked first, second and third in the country, while four other conference teams ranked in the top 30. Wisconsin (81,088) and Michigan State (74,858) ranked 15th and 20th, respectively, while Iowa (70,169) ranked 22nd and Illinois (61,707) was 30th.
[FIVE // a focus on freshmen]
The Big Ten placed four football players on the 27-man Freshman All-America Team, it was announced this past Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America and Aon Insurance. Michigan State guard Joel Foreman and Ohio State center Michael Brewster were named to the offense, while Northwestern cornerback Jordan Mabin was named to the defensive squad. Wisconsin’s Philip Welch was tabbed as the nation’s top freshman kicker.
[SIX // honors blow away purdue’s brees]
Congratulations to former Purdue standout Drew Brees, who was named this past Tuesday as The Associated Press 2008 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Brees’ 5,069 passing yards this year with the New Orleans Saints was just 15 yards shy of Dan Marino’s league passing record in 1984. The former Boilermaker, who shined in the Big Ten from 1997 to 2000, earned 22 votes, while Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson tied for second with only nine votes. In addition to his yardage total, Brees threw an NFL-best 34 TDs and led the league in attempts (635) and completions (413). Brees is the first Saint and first former Purdue player to win the award.
[SEVEN // michigan and indiana make waves in pool]
Three top-15 men’s swimming squads took to the Indiana pool this past Saturday for a double-dual competition that provided quite the individual highlights. No. 4 Michigan topped sixth-ranked Tennessee, 200-98, and defeated No. 14 Indiana by a score of 176-104. Indiana topped Tennessee 159-133. U-M senior Matt Patton and sophomore Tyler Clary each won a pair of individual events for the Wolverines, while IU senior Matt Lenton earned the right to call himself the fastest swimmer in Hoosier history with a time of 19.84 in the 50-yard freestyle. However, the most impressive race of the day might have come from four Wolverines. Michigan’s Charlie Houchin (1:35.56), Clary (1:35.80), Bobby Savulich (1:36.09) and Sal Barba (1:36.37) placed first through fourth in the 200-yard freestyle.
[EIGHT // big ten gymnasts take to the mat]
This past weekend marked the start of the 2009 Big Ten women’s gymnastics season and several conference squads were in action. At the Michigan State Quad meet on Friday, No. 8 Michigan (194.850) bested Big Ten rivals No. 16 Illinois (193.950) and No. 17 Michigan State (192.325). The 13th-ranked Penn State (194.800) squad topped Pittsburgh (191.675) on Saturday and junior Brandi Personett captured the all-around title. Minnesota opened its season with a 194.375-192.575 win over Arizona, led by all-around meadlist Carmelina Carabajal. Iowa, led by all-around runner-up Jenifer Simbhudas, finished third in its home opener with a score of 191.375. No. 7 LSU (194.175) won the tri-meet while Southeast Missouri State (191.675) came in second. No. 21 Ohio State (194.625) fell to 12th-ranked Arkansas (195.775) in the Razorbacks’ first home meet of the year.
[NINE // grapplers duel at national duals]
Congratulations to defending NCAA Wrestling Champion Iowa, which successfully defended its NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals title on Sunday. The top-ranked Hawkeyes defeated Cornell – the tournament’s No. 3 seed – by a score of 23-13. Iowa (14-0), which has won its last 28 matches, captured back-to-back National Duals titles for the first time since 1995 and 1996. Three other Big Ten squads placed in the top eight. Ohio State beat Minnesota 25-12 for fifth place, while Penn State fell 22-15 to Boise State in the seventh-place match.
[TEN // hambly promoted to illinois’ front line]
Congratulations to Kevin Hambly for being promoted this past week to the position of Illinois’ head volleyball coach. Hambly, who served as an assistant for the Fighting Illini for the last five years, becomes the seventh head coach in the program's history and just the third in the last quarter century. He replaces Don Hardin, who retired after 13 years as head man at Illinois. Hambly is also an Illini’ alumnus, having graduated with highest honors in 2006.
[ELEVEN // former football star brings true meaning to fighting illini]
Finally this week, Big Ten fans learned via Illinois’ website, the Associated Press or the Cincinnati Community Press & Recorder, that former Illini defensive lineman Chris Norwell is now facing his biggest challenge yet. A four-year starter, who concluded his football career in the 2008 Rose Bowl, Norwell has been battling Burkitt's non-Hodgkins lymphoma since October. The 23-year-old was among the Minnesota Vikings' last cuts this past season and has been receiving treatment in his hometown of Cincinnati. The Big Ten’s thoughts and prayers are with Chris and his family – both in Cincinnati and Champaign – during his battle and recovery.