Aug. 7, 2011
[ONE // five in twenty-five]
Less than one month away from the beginning of the college football season, five Big Ten squads were ranked among the top 25 of the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll released this past Thursday. The Big Ten is one of only three conferences to feature more than two teams among the top 25 and is tied for second among all conferences. Wisconsin leads the way for the conference and is ranked 10th overall after earning a share of the Big Ten Championship last season, the Badgers' first conference title since 1999. Nebraska enters its first Big Ten season ranked 11th overall after winning 10 games last season and advancing to the Big 12 Championship Game. Ohio State also cracked the top 20 and was slotted 16th overall. Michigan State was tabbed 17th after winning a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1990 last season. Penn State rounds out the Big Ten's ranked contingent at 25th overall. Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern also received votes in the first USA Today poll of 2011.
[TWO // let's play nine]
The Big Ten announced Thursday that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season. Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.
[THREE // they're coming to your city - part one...]
The Big Ten Network, or BTN as it is commonly referred to, announced this past week its schedule for the 2011 Big Ten Network Football Tour. The BTN is set to hit the road again for its annual Big Ten football training camp tour starting Monday, Aug. 8. The crew will use Twitter to send updates, pictures and occasional videos, while also updating a live blog. The BTN will head to Wisconsin on Aug. 8, followed by Minnesota (Aug. 9), Nebraska (Aug. 11), Iowa (Aug. 12), Illinois (Aug. 13) and Indiana (Aug. 14). The bus will then stop at Ohio State (Aug. 15), Penn State (Aug. 16), Michigan (Aug. 18), Michigan State (Aug. 19), Purdue (Aug. 21) and Northwestern (Aug. 22) to cover the second half of the season.
[FOUR // they're coming to your city - part two...]
ESPN announced this past Friday its College Football GameDay will make a return trip to Ann Arbor, for the first time since the 2007 season, when Michigan hosts Notre Dame in the "Under the Lights" matchup on Saturday, Sept. 10. The U-M/Notre Dame game kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT and will be televised on ESPN. Former U-M Heisman Trophy winner (1991) and current ESPN College Football GameDay analyst Desmond Howard will be honored in conjunction with the game. Howard, a 1991 consensus All-American, was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as the only Heisman Trophy winner in the 14-member class. He became the first receiver in history to lead the Big Ten in scoring and he set or tied five NCAA records and 12 single-season Michigan records during his senior year.
[FIVE // michigan to maui]
Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines' basketball team learned this past Thursday that it will once again be a participant in the Maui Invitational. This year the expanded format calls for Michigan to play Monday, Nov. 14 in Ann Arbor against Towson before heading to Maui. Once there, the Wolverines will face Memphis in the first round on Monday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. HST. U-M competed in the first-ever Maui Invitational in 1985, then known as the Silversword Classic, and won the inaugural event. The Wolverines returned to the Lahaina Civic Center in 1988 and again took home the tournament title. U-M also appeared in the Maui Invitational in 1994, finishing second, and in 1998.
[SIX // big ten duo makes world university games roster]
Congratulations to Michigan State's Draymond Green and Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe on being named to the 12-person World University Games roster. The squad, which is coached by Purdue mentor Matt Painter, was announced by USA Basketball on Wednesday. Mbakwe was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010-11, while Green earned third-team accolades. The USA will play an exhibition contest against New Century, a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) professional team, in Huizho, China, on Aug. 11, before opening World University Games play on Aug. 13.
[SEVEN // big ten trio set for overseas play]
It's not just Big Ten men's basketball players getting ready to play some hoops overseas! Three conference teams will take part in foreign tours in the coming weeks as Iowa, Nebraska, and Purdue will compete against some of the top competition in Europe. Nebraska will tour Sweden, Denmark and Norway, while Iowa and Purdue will both visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. Iowa will be overseas from Aug. 8-20, while Nebraska and Purdue will travel from Aug. 5-15. Click on the links above to follow these teams on their respective journeys.
[EIGHT // smart guys]
Six Big Ten men's golf teams were honored this past week for their success in the classroom last year. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue were lauded as GCAA All-Academic Team by the GCAA on Wednesday. Each team submitted GPAs of 3.00 or higher to earn the recognition. To be eligible for GCAA All-Academic Team honors, a college of university must submit the grade points earned and hours attempted for each player on its official squad list for the academic year.
[NINE // spartan women's golf duo off to great start]
On the women's side, six conference combos were in action this past week at the 2011 Hooters Women's Collegiate Team Championship. Congratulations to Michigan State's Lindsey Solberg and Caroline Powers, who teamed to a fire a combined score of 12-under-par 276 to win by one shot. The three-day format consisted of alternate shot in round one, best ball in round two, and team stroke play in round three. The Spartan duo carded rounds 68-65-143 for the win. Iowa's Chelsea Harris and Christie Cardwell shot the low round of Thursday's final day with a 6-under 138. The strong finish helped the Hawkeye tandem jump into fourth place with a final score of 9-under 279 (74-67-138). Michigan State's Christine Meier and Lindsey McPherson tied for eighth a 2-under 286 (73-67-146), while Nebraska's Kayla Knopik and Madeleine Sheils (76-70-145) and Wisconsin's Lindsay Danielson and Alyssa Elliott (73-67-151) tied for 17th at 3-over 291. Rounding out the Big Ten contingent was Wisconsin's Jessie Gerry and Ellie Arkin, who carded a 5-over 293 (76-69-148) to place tied for 23rd.
[TEN // a green giant]
Finally this week, the Big Ten was saddened to learn of the loss of a Spartan giant. Former Michigan State two-time All-American Charles "Bubba" Smith, one of only three players in Spartan football history to have his jersey number (No. 95) retired, died this past Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, Calif. He was 66. Smith earned three letters at Michigan State from 1964-66, while playing for legendary head coach Duffy Daugherty. In his final two seasons, the 6-foot-7, 280-pound defensive end helped the Spartans to a combined record of 19-1-1, including back-to-back Big Ten and National Championships in 1965 and '66.