Aug. 31, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // big ten opens 2008 football season]
Week one of the 2008 Big Ten football season has come and gone and the conference managed a 7-3 record in the season opener. Three of those seven teams posted winning margins of 40 points or more, which included Iowa (Maine, 46-3), Ohio State (Youngstown State, 43-0) and Penn State (Coastal Carolina, 66-10). Other winners included Indiana (Western Kentucky, 31-13), Minnesota (Northern Illinois 31-27), Northwestern (Syracuse, 30-10) and Wisconsin (Akron, 38-17). The three conference squads that dropped their season openers on Saturday each did so by 10 points or less, including Illinois (Missouri, 42-52) Michigan (Utah, 23-25) and Michigan State (California, 31-38).
[TWO // news and notes from saturday’s big games]
Several news and notes came out of Saturday’s football games, including a number of impressive performances by some quarterbacks and tailbacks. Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells injured his foot in the third quarter of the Buckeyes’ 43-0 win over Youngstown State. Many critics feel Wells was one of the few Heisman Trophy favorites to start the season. Wells suffered no broken bones and will undergo treatment on his foot on Monday. Among the other headlines made on Saturday was Wisconsin tailback P.J. Hill rumbling for 210 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton tallying 144 yards on the day. Illinois’ Juice Williams threw for 456 yards and five touchdowns and Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis finished 17-of-27 passing for 144 yards for two TDs and scored two more while rushing nine times for 185 yards. Penn State freshman Stephfon Green gained a game-high 89 yards on 10 carries and scored twice, and Iowa’s Shonn Greene ran for 109 yards and a touchdown.
[THREE // five conference kickers named to lou groza watch list]
Five Big Ten kickers were named Monday to the Lou Groza Watch List, including Indiana’s Austin Starr, who was a finalist for the award last year. In addition to Starr, Michigan senior K.C. Lopata, Michigan State junior Brett Swenson, Ohio State senior Ryan Pretorius and Penn State senior Kevin Kelly were named as preseason honorees. Last year Starr was named first team All-Big Ten, while Kelly is second among NCAA active kickers with 58 career field goals.
[FOUR // big ten network seals major distribution deals prior to Saturday’s kickoff]
Several Big Ten football fans who could not make it to their favorite game Saturday were able to watch it on the Big Ten Network. BTN President Mark Silverman was a busy man on the phone this week, finalizing distribution deals with powerhouse partners Time Warner, Charter, Mediacom and Cox. Time Warner was announced on Monday, while Charter’s releases was issued Tuesday. Mediacom and Cox both agreed with the BTN on Thursday. A week after having Comcast join as a BTN distributor and with the four new partners announced this past week, the Big Ten Network’s reach is now available to 75 million homes nationwide.
[FIVE // btn boasts extensive broadcast schedule for olympic sports]
Speaking of the Big Ten Network, it was announced this week that 26 regular season conference field hockey and men's and women's soccer contests will be televised on the BTN during the 2008 fall season. The BTN aired the Indiana men’s soccer game on Sunday and plans to begin broadcasting women’s soccer on Sept. 14. Field hockey games will start running on the network Sept. 28, and coverage will also include selected games from the Big Ten Men's Soccer Championship and Big Ten Field Hockey and Women's Soccer Tournaments in November. The complete fall sports’ television schedule can be found by clicking here.
[SIX // happy birthday btn!]
This past Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Big Ten Network’s launch on Aug. 30, 2007. On Friday, BigTen.org took an in-depth look at the network’s successes over the past year and spoke with BTN President Mark Silverman and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany as well. In the story, which can be seen by clicking here, Silverman said his first year as the head of the BTN has been “far and away, the most challenging, rewarding and fulfilling role” he has ever had.
[SEVEN // four conference teams recognized in field hockey poll]
Four Big Ten field hockey teams began the season ranked in the top 10 of the 2008 STX/NFHCA Top 20 Poll. The poll was announced Tuesday and featured Iowa ranked fifth, followed by No. 6 Penn State, No. 9 Michigan and No. 10 Michigan State. In addition, Indiana and Ohio State both received votes outside the top 20.
[EIGHT // big ten opens four other sport seasons]
Big Ten football was not the only sport that began its season this past weekend. The conference also saw several men’s soccer, field hockey, volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country teams in action. All seven men’s soccer squads took to the pitch, while all 11 league volleyball teams hit the court, including Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue, who are ranked Nos. 1, 13, 16 and 25, respectively. All seven field hockey teams opened this past weekend and select men’s and women’s cross country squads were in action as well.
[NINE // news and notes from big ten olympic fall sports]
In taking a closer look at those Olympic sport openers, several headlines were made this past week by conference standouts. In volleyball, Laura DeBruler’s 65 kills earned her the State Farm Illini Classic MVP award as she helped the Orange and Blue to a win over No. 23 New Mexico State (24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-14) and a comeback victory over No. 11 Oregon (14-25, 16-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-13). Minnesota started the season 3-0 on the road for the first time since it did so in 2000 and top-ranked Penn State swept No. 6 UCLA (25-22, 25-21, 25-13). In addition, Geoff Carlston won his first game as Ohio State head coach with a 3-0 sweep over Toledo (25-17, 25-11, 25-15) on Friday. Iowa headlined Big Ten field hockey action as the Hawkeyes defeated No. 1 North Carolina, 3-2, on Sunday, which ended the Tar Heels' 25-game winning streak. Indiana women’s soccer upset No. 14 Tennessee on Friday and Wisconsin junior Scott Lorenz scored the game-winner in the 106th minute Friday to help the Badgers past Wright State. Both the Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams earned home victories at the Hawkeye Invitational, while UI freshman finished first in his debut with a time of 18:33.23. The Michigan State cross country squads also opened the year at the Jeff Drenth Memorial. MSU senior Shane Knoll took first place with a time of 15:33.3 in the men's race, followed closely by teammate Spencer Beatty who took second in 15:36.3.
[TEN // big life. big stage. big ten.]
The Big Ten announced this past Wednesday its new marketing campaign and a new series of television public service announcements (PSA) themed Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten. The PSAs feature prominent alumni and current and former Big Ten student-athletes and will appear during Big Ten athletic events throughout the academic year on ABC, CBS, ESPN and the Big Ten Network. All facets of the Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten. PSAs are available for viewing in the conference’s official release.
[ELEVEN // big ten accounts for 29 medals in beijing]
Finally this week, the Big Ten Olympic medals have been counted. Congratulations to all the conference representatives who brought home a total of 29 medals, which included 16 gold, five silver and eight bronze at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Nearly 100 former and current student-athletes and coaches participated in this year's games which spanned from August 8-24. The group of Big Ten competitors consisted of 11 repeat Olympians and five returning medalists that represented 28 different countries and 10 Big Ten institutions in 17 different sports. Big Ten student-athletes and coaches have been a part of the Olympic experience on more than 1,217 occasions, including many making multiple trips to the international event. That list of conference standouts has accumulated at least 452 medals, including 212 gold.