This Week in the Big Ten

Illinois women's soccer opened the season this past weekend with wins in both of its contests.

Aug. 21, 2011

[ONE // eight gridiron teams received votes from associated press]
Eight Big Ten football teams received at least one vote this past week in the Associated Press (AP) preseason poll, including four teams among the top 25. Big Ten newcomer Nebraska led the conference contingent at 10th overall after being ranked 11th in the preseason USA Today coaches poll. Defending Big Ten co-Champions Wisconsin and Michigan State followed the Cornhuskers in the AP rankings. The Badgers were rated 11th overall after being voted 10th by the coaches. The Spartans were ranked 17th overall, the same spot as in the coaches voting. Ohio State was tabbed 18th by the media after being rated 16th in the coaches poll. Penn State was just two spots outside of the top 25 after being ranked 25th in coaches balloting. Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern received at least one vote in both the media and coaches preseason polls.

[TWO // four men for manning]
Four Big Ten signal callers were named this past week to the watch list for the Manning Award, which honors the nation's top quarterback. Big Ten standouts on the watch list are Michigan's Denard Robinson, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Northwestern's Dan Persa.

[THREE // seven tandems on the lookout for pony express]
Seven Big Ten tandems have been selected to the preseason watch list for the Pony Express Award, given to the top two- or three-player combination in the country. The inaugural award will be given at the end of the regular season.  Appearing on the preseason watch list are Iowa defensive linemen Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels; Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Edwin Baker and wide receiver Keshawn Martin; Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard; Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa, tight end Drake Dunsmore and wide receiver Jeremy Ebert; Ohio State offensive linemen Mike Adams, Mike Brewster and J.B. Shugarts; Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and wide reciever Nick Toon; and Wisconsin running backs Montee Ball and James White.

[FOUR // eleven volleyball teams ranked]
Eleven of the 12 Big Ten volleyball teams earned recognition in the AVCA Division I Coaches Preseason Poll, with seven squads appearing in the top 25. After winning its fourth-straight national championship in 2010, Penn State received 54 of the 60 first-place votes en route to the No. 1 ranking in the poll. The Nittany Lions finished last season at 32-5 overall and won their eighth consecutive Big Ten title.  Conference newcomer Nebraska and Illinois join Penn State in the top 10 as the Huskers rank fifth and the Illini hold eighth in the poll. Minnesota checks in at No. 12 while Purdue follows at No. 13. Ohio State makes its 2011 debut at No. 21 while Michigan stands in a tie for No. 24 to open the season.  Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin sit just outside the top 25 to round out the Big Ten contingent.

[FIVE // penn state picked to click by big ten coaches]
Eight-time defending conference champion Penn State was chosen as the conference favorite for the 2011 season as voted on by the Big Ten coaches, the conference office announced on Wednesday. Winners of the last four NCAA championships, the Nittany Lions top the poll for the seventh straight season.  Illinois, who finished tied for second in the Big Ten in 2010, and conference-newcomer Nebraska were voted to finish second this season according to the poll. Purdue, who tied for fourth last season, was selected to finish in the same fashion this year, while Minnesota, which finished 2010 tied for second, was tabbed fifth in the voting. Michigan State, which finished 7-13 in conference action last year, rounds out the poll at No. 6.  Additionally, conference coaches selected a Preseason All-Big Ten team, which features five unanimous selections and two returning members to the preseason honor roll. Illinois’ Michelle Bartsch appears on the team for the third time, while Michigan’s Alex Hunt is a two-time honoree. Other unanimous selections include Illinois’ Colleen Ward, Nebraska’s Brooke Delano and Penn State’s Deja McClendon.  To view the complete poll and Preseason All-Big Ten team, click here.

[SIX // lions not too shabby in soccer too]
The Big Ten announced its 2011 women's soccer preseason coaches' poll and players to watch list this past Tuesday, with defending co-champion Penn State earning top honors among the 12 conference teams. The Nittany Lions enter the season as the conference favorites after winning their 13th straight Big Ten title in 2010.  Penn State compiled an 8-2-0 record in Big Ten play last season en route to the conference crown.  Ohio State checks in at No. 2 in the poll after earning a share of its first Big Ten title and advancing to the NCAA College Cup for the first time in program history in 2010. Wisconsin follows at No. 3 in the poll, matching the team's finish from a year ago. Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State round out the poll's top six, while Big Ten newcomer Nebraska debuts at No. 7. The complete preseason coaches' poll and the 36-player Big Ten Players to Watch List can be found by clicking here.

[SEVEN // performing on the pitch]
All 12 Big Ten women's soccer teams hit the pitch this past weekend to open the 2011 season.  Illinois opened 2-0 with 5-1 wins over Gonzaga and Toledo, while Iowa also posted two wins over the weekend, including a 3-0 shutout at DePaul and a 2-1 result over Southeast Missouri State.  Ohio State captured a pair of 1-0 shutouts over Xavier and Radford.  Indiana drew a double-overtime 2-2 tie against Evansville on Friday before taking a 6-1 victory over Butler on Sunday.  Among the teams splitting the weekend slate were Michigan (W, 3-1, Oakland & L, 1-0, Akron), Minnesota (W, 5-0, South Dakota State & L, 1-0, #6 Maryland), Penn State (W, 4-0, Nevada & L, 4-0, #2 Stanford), and Purdue (W, 1-0, Toledo & L, 3-0, West Virginia).  Nebraska fell 2-1 against third-ranked North Carolina and then drew a 1-1 tie with Baylor on Sunday.  Falling in their lone contests of the week were Michigan State (3-2, Milwaukee), Northwestern (1-0 OT, #12 Marquette) and Wisconsin (2-0, #1 Notre Dame).

[EIGHT // ahead of the class]
Candidates for the 2011 women's soccer Lowe's Senior CLASS Award were announced on Wednesday, with Michigan State's Laura Heyboer and Ohio State's Paige Maxwell making the list.  An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.  The pair of Big Ten forwards are among the 30 women's soccer players named candidates for the award, which will be narrowed down to 10 finalists midway through the season. Those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot, which will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

[NINE // five women tabbed for the hermann trophy]
Five Big Ten women's soccer players have been selected for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List, good for the second most of any conference. Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo, Michigan State's Laura Heyboer, Nebraska's Morgan Marlborough, Ohio State's Paige Maxwell and Penn State's Christine Nairn have each earned spots on the 42-player list, which was announced this past Monday.  The MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the nation's top player, is chosen by head coaches of NCAA Division I programs who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Voting for the award is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists. The winner will be announced on Jan. 6, 2012.

[TEN // buckeye tabbed for hermann watch list too]
On the men’s side, Ohio State goalkeeper Matt Lampson has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List, announced this past Monday. Lampson, a first-team All-Big Ten honoree in 2010, is one of 42 players selected for the list. The Buckeye keeper led the conference in goals-against average (0.72), save percentage (.857) and shutouts (10) last season.  The MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the nation's top player, is chosen by head coaches of NCAA Division I programs who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Voting for the award is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists. The winner will be announced on Jan. 6, 2012.

[ELEVEN // good for now]
The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) met recently to discuss reform issues and expansion and issued a statement this past week.  In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C reiterated that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.  To read more of the statement, click here.

[TWELVE // honoring a hoosier hall of famer]
Finally this week, former Indiana All-American end and fullback Pete Pihos passed away Tuesday morning in Winston-Salem, N.C., after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 87 years old.  Pihos became the second IU football product to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1966. After helping Indiana set national records on offense in 1943, he returned from a stint in the Army to lead the Hoosiers in scoring during their Big Ten Championship season of 1945. One year later, Pihos was named the team's Most Valuable Player while shattering previous school records for touchdowns, total points and receptions.