Big Ten Fall Season in Review: Part 1

June 3, 2008

by Jeff Smith

Throughout the Big Ten's fall campaign, the regular season offered plenty of memorable moments in football, volleyball, field hockey, men's and women's soccer and men's and women's cross country. In the first of three features this week, will take a look back at some of those defining moments. The Big Ten Championship/Tournament season will be the focus on Wednesday, while the series concludes Thursday by highlighting NCAA Championship action. Here now are just a few of the memorable moments that occurred last fall during the regular season.

AUGUST 30 - What better way to start off the 2007-08 school year than to launch your own television network. The Big Ten Network launched to over 20 million subscribers nationwide, giving fans an in-depth look at all things Big Ten. Dave Revsine welcomed the nation to the Big Ten Network and its premier show Big Ten Tonight. The launch provided all Big Ten fans a glimpse of the season to come.

SEPTEMBER 1 - The Big Ten football season kicked off with two of its three new coaches earning their first victory at their respective schools. Both Indiana's Bill Lynch and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio captured wins in convincing fashion as the Hoosiers ousted Indiana State, 55-7, and the Spartans rolled Alabama-Birmingham, 55-18. Joe Paterno, who captured his first win at Penn State several years ago, also made history on this date as he officially began his 42nd season at the helm of the Nittany Lions with a win over Florida International. Paterno's 42 years established an NCAA record for most years as the head coach at a single institution, bettering the previous record set by Amos Alonzo Stagg, who coached at Chicago for 41 seasons from 1892-1932. Speaking of a coach being familiar to a school, Northwestern's April Likhite returned to guide the Wildcats' women's cross country team in its season opener, after serving as head coach from 1998-2001.

SEPTEMBER 2 - In front of a school-record crowd of 7,243 people, the eighth-ranked Indiana men's soccer team defeated No. 1 UCLA, 1-0, on a goal from Kevin Noschang in the 75th minute. The victory marked the Hoosiers' second straight over a top-ranked team at Bill Armstrong Stadium, while the attendance figure bested the previous mark of 6,000 set back in 1987.

SEPTEMBER 5 - Three days following his game-winner, Indiana's Kevin Noschang was named the NSCAA's Player of the Week. That particular Wednesday was the day for national honors as Penn State head women's volleyball coach Russ Rose was announced as an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame inductee. Rose, in his 29th year with the Nittany Lions, was one of three members in the fifth annual induction class and was later honored in a ceremony in December.

SEPTEMBER 7 - Sad news out of Hawkeye country came when former Iowa track and cross country standout Deacon Jones passed away. He was 73. Jones was a two-time NCAA champion, two-time all-American and seven-time Big Ten champion for the Hawkeyes (1954-58). He won Iowa's first and only individual cross country national title in 1955, becoming the first African-American and sophomore national cross country champion in history. The seven-time Big Ten champion also won the national two-mile track title in 1957 and was a two-time Olympian in 1956 and 1960.

SEPTEMBER 8 - First-year Indiana cross country coach Ron Helmer began his tenure in Bloomington with the Indiana Open. Unfortunately for him, the event was dominated by Michigan. The Wolverines took seven of the top 10 spots and placing all 12 of its runners in the top 17 of the 37-runner field. Erin Webster successfully defended her title by crossing the line 17 seconds quicker than U-M teammate Nicole Edwards. Later that evening, another first-year head coach did find his first win. In thrilling fashion, Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster captured his first Golden Gopher victory in a 41-35 triple-overtime decision over Miami (Ohio). The game was the second-straight overtime contest for Minnesota, an NCAA record.

SEPTEMBER 9 - While we are talking coaching milestones, give the nod to Michigan State men's soccer coach Joe Baum. With a 2-1 victory at Vermont, Baum picked up his 300th career win. He was the 26th coach to the reach that level and joined Indiana's Jerry Yeagley as the only two Big Ten coaches in that group.

SEPTEMBER 11 - The American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Penn State sophomore Megan Hodge was the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week.

SEPTEMBER 14 - On her home course at the Indiana Intercollegiates, Purdue sophomore Katie Morrical captured the win by seven seconds with a personal-best time of 17:39.20. Her time was a new course record and the seventh fastest in school history, and helped lead the Boilermakers to the team title.

SEPTEMBER 15 - Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel earned his 200th career win with a 33-14 win over Washington.

SEPTEMBER 16 - Sticking with the Buckeyes, senior Xavier Balc recorded a school-record four assists in OSU's 6-1 win over Cal State Fullerton.

SEPTEMBER 20 - Wisconsin sophomore goalkepper Alex Horwath extended his personal shutout streak to five games (476:17) in a scoreless draw at UW-Green Bay.

SEPTEMBER 21 - In a 3-0 sweep of Michigan State, Penn State volleyball's Russ Rose earned his 900th career win, becoming just the third coach in NCAA history to eclipse that mark.

SEPTEMBER 22 - After beginning the season with a program-best 13-0 record, the 10th-ranked Michigan volleyball team fell 3-0 to No. 9 Wisconsin in a nationally televised match in Ann Arbor. Speaking of rankings, for the first time since the 2005 campaign, Big Ten football boasted five nationally-ranked programs with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State and Purdue all appearing among the top 25.

SEPTEMBER 26 - Michigan men's soccer won on the road at Oakland to extend its record to 8-0-1 on the year. The Wolverines' win total already eclipsed the 7-10-4 mark from a year ago.

SEPTEMBER 28 - In perhaps one of the top intraconference upsets of the season, the Iowa volleyball team rallied from a 0-2 deficit to knock off No. 11 Michigan, 3-2, in Iowa City. The 28-30, 29-31, 30-26, 30-28, 15-10 win was Iowa's first victory over a ranked opponent since 2000.

SEPTEMBER 29 - Penn State men's soccer defended its home turf with a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Northwestern. The Wildcats entered their contest with Penn State having notched a 7-0-1 record, the team's best ever through eight games. NU had also posted five consecutive shutouts for the first time in school history and had allowed just two goals in the first eight games. No doubt that was an impressive start, but how about Wisconsin football's Bret Bielema? With a 17-1 start in his two years of coaching, Bielema joined Michigan's Fielding Yost (55-0-1 from 1901- 05) as the only coaches in Big Ten history to win at least 17 of their first 18 games.

OCTOBER 5 - Northwestern field hockey freshman Katie Lynch recorded a conference-best 14 saves, but the Wildcats fell to No. 5 Iowa, 5-1. Lynch, making her first start, faced 31 shots, 19 of which were on goal.

OCTOBER 6 - Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 160 yards to help the Illini end Wisconsin's nation's longest win streak of 14 games, 31-26. The Badgers had not lost since September 16, 2006, at Michigan, while the win helped Illinois to its first 3-0 Big Ten start since 1990.

OCTOBER 13 - Records were shattered at the NCAA Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind., as both an Illinois and Minnesota runner left with school records in hand. Illini senior Trent Hoerr captured 13th with an 8,000-meter time of 23:29, besting the previous mark by four seconds, but was outdone in the record breaking by Minnesota's Chris Rombough. His 15th-place time of 23:39 shattered Dave Morrison's school best of 23:50, set 23 years ago on September 29, 1984. The Michigan State women's team placed third in the event thanks to top-12 finishes by Alissa McKaig and Nicole Bush.

On November 10th, Illinois defeated top-ranked Ohio State, 28-21, marking its first win over a No. 1 team since 1956.
OCTOBER 15 - The Ohio State football team earned the top ranking in the Associated Press, USA Today and Harris Interactive polls, as well as the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) poll of the season.

OCTOBER 19 - Illinois volleyball fell short of knocking off Penn State, but managed to do something no other conference team had done to date: win a game. Trailing 0-2, Illinois rallied to even the score against the Nittany Lions, but feel 15-10 in the fifth game. It was the Illini's sixth five-game defeat of the season, including their fourth in conference play.

OCTOBER 20 - While Penn State was fending off Illinois on the volleyball court, it had trouble doing the same to Iowa in field hockey. Lauren Pfeiffer converted a penalty stroke in the first minute of overtime to send the No. 5 Hawkeyes past the No. 9 Nittany Lions, 2-1.

OCTOBER 21 - The Big Ten Network was once again present for another historic moment in the fall, this time at Minnesota, where the Golden Gopher women's soccer team upset eighth-ranked and nine-time defending conference champion Penn State. The 1-0 win was the school's first over PSU since 1997 and it snapped the Nittany Lion's 11-game unbeaten streak. It was also Penn State's first conference defeat since October 1, 2006, at Illinois. PSU also became the highest-ranked opponent Minnesota had ever defeated in the program's 15-year history. Staying with soccer, Indiana notched a 2-1 victory over Oakland to wrap up its first undefeated home season (9-0-1) since 1993. In Madison, Wis., No. 2 Penn State volleyball held on to win 30-18, 24-30, 24-30, 30-27, 15-13 over No. 8 Wisconsin in a battle of the Big Ten co-leaders. At the time the Badgers (17-1) were off to their best start in program history.

OCTOBER 26 - No. 13 Penn State recorded a 1-0 home victory over No. 4 Purdue, ending the nation's longest unbeaten streak (15 games) in women's soccer.

OCTOBER 28 - How about another streak coming to an end? The Boilermaker women's soccer program rebounded to top Ohio State, 3-1, ending its 11-game winning streak. One streak still in tact: Penn State women's soccer closed out the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Indiana, extending its conference home winning streak to 53 games.

OCTOBER 29 - Penn State volleyball received the top spot in the most recent AVCA/CSTV Coaches Poll, marking the last time since September 27, 2004 that a Big Ten team was ranked first in the nation (Minnesota) and the first time since 1999 that the Nittany Lions earned the top billing.

NOVEMBER 5 - Michigan's Stesha Selsky became just the third player in Big Ten history to reach the 2,000-dig plateau. She joined all-time Big Ten digs leader Paula Gentil of Minnesota and Wisconsin libero Jocelyn Wack in reaching the mark. Prior to the 2007 season, only four NCAA Division I players had recorded 2,000 or more digs in their careers.

NOVEMBER 10 - Illinois football knocked off top-ranked Ohio State, 28-21, marking the first time the Illini defeated a No. 1 team since 1956. OSU entered the game with 20 straight Big Ten wins, which broke the previous record of 19 straight triumphs by Michigan from 1990-92, and 28 straight regular-season victories, which equaled the Wolverines conference record set from 1901-03. The Buckeyes dropped their first regular-season and conference game since a 17-10 decision at Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005. This day also marked the first time in league history 10 of the 11 football teams became bowl eligible.

NOVEMBER 14 - Indiana's Juli Pierce couldn't help her Hoosiers past Purdue in a 3-1 loss, but she did manage to break the all-time school record for most digs in a season. With nine digs on the night, she increased her total to 442, surpassing Lynn Crawley's previous record of 436 digs, set in 1994.

NOVEMBER 19 - After spending 28 years with the Michigan football program, head coach Lloyd Carr announced his retirement. The long-time Wolverine mentor was just the eighth coach in conference history to claim five or more championships and helped his team to the 1997 national championship.

NOVEMBER 20 - Penn State sophomore setter Alisha Glass was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week.

NOVEMBER 24 - Illinois volleyball head coach Don Hardin captured his 400th career victory after a sweep of Iowa.