This Week in the Big Ten

It was announced this past week that Ohio State's Braxton Miller will be one of 42 players at the Kickoff Luncheon, while his Buckeyes will meet Michigan State on Nov. 8 in prime time.

July 13, 2014

[ONE // a distinguished list of scholars]
The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that 688 student-athletes have earned the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award. The list includes student-athletes from every institution and 37 different sports who have recorded a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year.  The 2013-14 class of Distinguished Scholar Award recipients includes 104 student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during the previous academic term. Big Ten Faculty Representatives established the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2008 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program. A complete list of the 2013-14 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award winners can be found by clicking here.

[TWO // look who’s coming to the kickoff luncheon]
The Big Ten announced this past Thursday the 42 student-athletes scheduled to attend the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon presented by Allstate and BMW, held Monday and Tuesday, July 28 and 29, at the Hilton Chicago. The 43rd annual event will mark the first official appearance of Maryland and Rutgers as members of the Big Ten and will feature 20 returning all-conference selections and all 14 head coaches.  The list of student-athletes scheduled to attend features 20 returning all-conference selections, including two individual award winners from last season. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller has claimed each of the last two Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year laurels, while Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun is the reigning Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year.

[THREE // twenty gridiron greats up for major football awards]
Twenty Big Ten student-athletes were named to the watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards this past Monday. The Maxwell Award is granted to the national player of the year, while the Bednarik Award is earned by the country’s top defensive standout.  Current Big Ten schools have claimed the Maxwell Award on 20 occasions and the Bednarik Award nine times.  For a complete list of Big Ten players honored on each watch list for this upcoming season, click here.

[FOUR // seventeen football players to watch for two national awards]
Seventeen Big Ten student-athletes were named to the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski and Outland Trophies on Thursday, with Iowa’s Carl Davis and Ohio State’s Michael Bennett named to both lists. The Nagurski Trophy goes to the nation’s most outstanding defensive football player, while the Outland Trophy is won by the country’s top interior lineman.  For a breakdown of the Big Ten players on the lists, click here.

[FIVE // fifteen standouts recognized by mackey award and rimington trophy]
Fifteen Big Ten football standouts were named to the watch lists for the John Mackey Award and Rimington Trophy on Tuesday. The Mackey Award goes to the nation’s top tight end, while the Rimington Trophy is won by the country’s top center.  Three Big Ten tight ends have claimed the Mackey Award – Purdue’s Tim Stratton in 2000, Iowa’s Dallas Clark in 2002 and Minnesota’s Matt Spaeth in 2006.  Six standouts from current Big Ten schools have won the Rimington Trophy, most recently when Michigan’s David Molk claimed the honor in 2011.

[SIX // hornung award lists ten players to watch]
The Big Ten tied for the conference lead with 10 players named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in college football. The Big Ten's preseason honorees are Illinois' V'Angelo Bentley, Indiana's Shane Wynn, Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley, Maryland's Stefon Diggs, Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, Northwestern's Venric Mark, Ohio State's Dontre Wilson and Purdue's Akeem Hunt. Now in its fifth season, the Hornung Award Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2013 statistics, career performance and expectations heading into the 2014 season. Profiles of each player and information about the Award can be found at

[SEVEN // five defensive backs featured by thorpe award]
Five Big Ten standouts were named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. Conference defenders appearing on the watch list are Michigan’s Blake Countess, Michigan State’s Kurtis Drummond and Trae Waynes, Northwestern’s Ibraheim Campbell and Penn State’s Jordan Lucas. The Spartans’ Darqueze Dennard claimed the Thorpe Award last season, the sixth Big Ten player to earn the national honor along with Michigan’s Charles Woodson (1997), Minnesota’s Tyrone Carter (1999), Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins (2008) and Antoine Winfield (1998) and Wisconsin’s Jamar Fletcher (2000).

[EIGHT // five set to get their kicks for national honors]
Five Big Ten standouts were named Wednesday to the watch lists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award and Ray Guy Award. The Groza Award goes to the nation’s top kicker, while the Guy Award is won by the country’s top punter.  Two Big Ten kickers were named to the Groza Award watch list – Maryland’s Brad Craddock and Michigan State’s Michael Geiger.  Three Big Ten punters were tabbed for the Guy Award watch list – Michigan State’s Mike Sadler, Minnesota’s Peter Mortell and Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston.

[NINE // sparty’s buckeye part moved to prime time]
Michigan State, Ohio State and ABC/ESPN announced this past week that the Nov. 8 game at Spartan Stadium will be played at 8 p.m. ET on ABC as part of Saturday Night Football called by Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit.  The Spartans and Buckeyes last played in the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game, with Michigan State handing Ohio State a 34-24 defeat to earn the Big Ten Championship. The Spartans went on to win the 100th Rose Bowl Game with a 24-20 victory over Stanford.  The 2014 Big Ten schedule now features seven prime time contests to appear on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, including appearances by Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State.

[TEN // three soccer stars “homegrown” in the big ten]
Major League Soccer has elected 20 players to play in its 2014 Chipotle Major League Soccer Homegrown Game, August 4, in Portland against the Portland Timbers U-23 team at Providence Park. The roster includes three players with Big Ten roots, including goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who played at Ohio State from 2009-2011, Northwestern's Chris Ritter, and Tommy Thompson, a forward from Indiana.  In conjunction with the MLS director of player programs Alfonso Mondelo, who will also coach the team, the 20-man roster was decided.  The game will be streamed live on August 4 at 10 p.m. ET on WatchESPN and

[ELEVEN // representing B1G at the mlb all-star game]
Four MLB players with ties to current Big Ten programs were selected to the 2014 All-Star Game, it was announced this past week, with two each appearing in the American and National Leagues. Minnesota reliever Glen Perkins (Minnesota), Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon (Nebraska), Pittsburgh reliever Tony Watson (Nebraska) and Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier (Rutgers) were each tabbed for the 2014 Midsummer Classic, which be televised by FOX on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, home of the 2015 Big Ten Baseball Tournament. It will be Perkins and Gordon's second All-Star Game nomination, while Frazier and Watson garnered their first All-Star Game nod.

[TWELVE // music that moves you]
Finally this week, we continue with Big Ten football news but add a musical twist with the help of two songs that have very different meanings.  Both tidbits come from the laptop of Senior Editor Brent Yarina, who always does a great job of canvasing the national media and social media networks looking for Big Ten coverage.  As reported on Sunday, Wisconsin’s “Jump Around” has been named the nation’s best tradition, according to SiriusXM College Sports Nation Traditions Tournament.  The Camp Randall Stadium staple, which has been conducted between the third and fourth quarters since 1998 to the tune of the House of Pain anthem, beat out Big Ten rival Ohio State’s “Script Ohio” in the tournament’s final.  For a glimpse at the stadium-shaking scene, click here.  Switching tunes, Yarina also helped give Big Ten Country a look at what former Minnesota and NFL tight end Ben Utecht is doing to preserve his memories through music.  Utecht, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, saw is career cut short after suffering his fifth concussion.  Now 33, he has already begun showing signs of memory loss.  An accomplished singer, Utecht wrote, performed, and starred in the video “You Will Always Be My Girls,” a song he dedicated to his wife and three daughters.  As documented by BTN, the Big Ten continues to lead the concussion conversation and is taking steps with the Ivy League to study traumatic head injuries, but perhaps it is this four-and-a-half-minute ballad by the former All-Big Ten selection that will make us see the long-term effects from a different angle.  Please take time and watch it.  Well done Ben!