Sept. 4, 2011
[ONE // big ten football season kicks off]
The Big Ten football season kicked off this past week with all 12 teams in action over a three-day period. Quarterback Russell Wilson led Wisconsin past UNLV 51-17 on Thursday, while B.J. Cunningham caught nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown to help Michigan State to a 28-6 victory over Youngstown State on Friday. The conference’s remaining 10 teams put forth n 8-2 record on Saturday, led by Northwestern’s 24-17 road win over Boston College. James Vandenberg threw for 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns to guide Iowa past Tennessee Tech, 34-7, Nathan Scheelhaase led Illinois to a 33-15 win over Arkansas State, and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez added 134 rushing yards and three TDs to give the Cornhuskers their first victory under the Big Ten umbrella with a 40-7 result over Chattanooga. Caleb TerBush passed for 219 yards in his first start and threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute to help Purdue beat Middle Tennessee State 27-24. Big plays dominated in both the Michigan and Penn State victories. Brandon Herron returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown and scored again on a fumble return to help the Wolverines past Western Michigan, 34-10, while Chaz Powell set the tone by returning the game's opening kickoff 95 yards for a score in Penn State’s 41-7 win over Indiana State. In addition to Brady Hoke’s inaugural win in Ann Arbor, Luke Fickell earned his first victory in Columbus as Ohio State blanked Akron 42-0. The other two newcomers – Indiana’s Kevin Wilson and Minnesota’s Jerry Kill – nearly captured wins away from campus in their first starts. Kill’s Golden Gophers fell 19-17 at USC and Wilson’s Hoosiers dropped a 27-20 decision to Ball State.
[TWO // michigan’s herron earns national accolades]
As noted above, Michigan's Brandon Herron was definitely a game changer in Saturday’s win over Western Michigan. On Sunday, Herron was honored nationally as he was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week. The senior linebacker became the first player in school history to post two defensive scores as the Wolverines earned a 34-10 victory. Herron, who posted a career-best eight tackles, returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown and added a score on a 29-yard fumble recovery.
[THREE // gameday heading to ann arbor; tv talent named for big ten championship]
Speaking of Michigan football, it was announced this past week that ESPN's "College GameDay Built by the Home Depot" will be heading to Ann Arbor for Michigan's historic night game against Notre Dame on Sept. 10. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. that day. Another significant national network announcement was made this past week as Kevin Frazier, co-anchor of the hit television magazine program The Insider and former Super Bowl MVP and Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Allen have been named FOX College Football's studio team handling pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. The duo will anchor more than 60 college football games this season, including FOX Sports' coverage of the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship game.
[FOUR // get your fix]
From ESPN to Fox Sports to the Big Ten Network… it was announced this past week Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Keith Jackson and former Michigan football star Dhani Jones will host shows on BTN this fall as part of the network’s “Football Fix” programming block, which includes new shows every weeknight beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Jones will host BTN LiveBIG, one of the network’s six new shows this fall. This inspirational program highlights how current and former members of the Big Ten community have impacted the world by living and giving “big.” The eight-episode series airs at 7:30 p.m. ET on Mondays starting October 3 and will spotlight luminaries such as Michigan’s Charles Woodson, Minnesota’s Tony Dungy, Wisconsin’s Devin Harris and many others. The show is designed to celebrate, promote and encourage community service. The network also will soon launch www.BTNLiveBIG.com, where fans can share their stories of community service and how they “live big” by giving back, while Big Ten students can learn about how they can earn scholarship money through volunteering. Jackson returns for a second season on BTN to host Big Ten Icons (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET). This year, the series will focus on the iconic coaches in Big Ten history. The 12-episode series will stretch into the winter, and profile one coach from every Big Ten school, including Illinois’ Lou Henson, Iowa’s Dan Gable, Indiana’s Bob Knight, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler, Michigan State’s Jud Heathcote, Minnesota’s Herb Brooks, Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte-Hiller, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Purdue’s Gene Keady and Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez.
[FIVE // hit the road]
The Big Ten announced on Monday the launch of the Honoring Legends. Building Leaders. Mobile Tour that will visit each Big Ten campus this football season. The tour highlights the new Big Ten Football Championship Trophy and launched on Wednesday from the Big Ten offices in Park Ridge, Ill., where a group of area students will join conference employees for a tailgate-style celebration. The mobile tour will entertain and educate fans about the new era of Big Ten football and the exciting road ahead – two divisions, the championship weekend in Indianapolis, 18 new trophies and the path to the Rose Bowl or BCS National Championship Game. The tour will stop at a different campus each week, from Thursday through game day on Saturday, and will contain interactive activities, including the opportunity for fans to have their picture taken with the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy. The tour will also feature television sets on site for fans to keep up with other games around the conference.
[SIX // off and running]
The Big Ten men's and women's cross country seasons began this past week, with seven conference teams taking to the course for the first time on Friday. The Illinois men's team opened the year with its seventh consecutive title at the Illini Challenge, an event in which Purdue finished third. On the women’s side, the Boilermakers placed second, followed by Illinois in third. Iowa went 1-1 at the Iowa Open to kick off its season as the Hawkeye men's team defeated Illinois State, 18-39, while the women's team suffered a 32-23 defeat. Iowa All-American junior Jeff Thode won the 6K men's event with a time of 19:01. Michigan hosted a non-scoring event at the Michigan Open and the top four finishers were sporting the Maize and Blue. Junior Zach Ornelas earned his first cross country win of his collegiate career with a time of 15:35.21. On the women’s side, the top six harriers to cross the finish line were competing for Michigan. Fifth-year senior Danielle Tauro claimed the individual crown for the fourth time in her career with a time of 18:02.40. Michigan State’s Isaiah Vandoorne captured the Jeff Drenth Memoria men's crown in a 5K-time of 15:39.73, while fellow Spartan Rachel McFarlane paced the women's race with her winning time of 18:23.63. Northwestern and junior Audrey Huth both finished first at the Crusader Open, with Huth running the only sub-18-minute 5K on the day to nab first. Penn State seniors Caitlin Lane and Kyle Dawson both captured individual titles, leading the Nittany Lion cross country squads to a pair of one-through-five perfect scores at the annual Dolan Duals at Lock Haven. Both Nittany Lion captains also posted course records in the effort, with Lane breaking the tape at 13:26.52 over the 4,000-meter women's course, and Dawson running 17:36.40 to win the men's 6,000-meters. Lane also recorded her fourth-straight victory at Lock Haven, completing a four-year sweep at the Dolan Duals. Competing in its first meet as a Big Ten team, the Nebraska women’s squad captured their third straight Creighton/Nebraska-Omaha team title. Ashley Miller raced to an individual crown on the women's side, while Jarren Heng took second on the men's side to help the Huskers place second as a team.
[SEVEN // running in the ranks]
Four Big Ten men's cross country teams earned spots in the preseason USTFCCCA national coaches' top 30 poll, it was announced last Tuesday. Reigning Big Ten Champion Wisconsin led the group of ranked conference teams, checking in at No. 3 nationally. Indiana also earned top-10 consideration, holding No. 8 entering the first weekend of competition. Ohio State and Minnesota appeared in the top 30 as the Buckeyes were No. 25 and the Golden Gophers opened the season ranked 27th. Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State were each receiving votes in the first poll of the season.
[EIGHT // a handful in the rankings]
Five Big Ten women's cross country teams garnered preseason top-30 rankings in the USTFCCCA national coaches' poll, released last Tuesday. Michigan topped the list of ranked conference teams, standing at No. 13 to begin the season. Penn State joined Michigan in the top 20, checking in at No. 18. Iowa was slated No. 28, followed by No. 29 Michigan State and No. 30 Minnesota. Indiana was receiving votes to begin the campaign.
[NINE // tee it up]
With all 12 Big Ten men's golf teams opening their fall schedules in this month, Michigan State and Purdue were the first to hit the links this past weekend. The Spartans (293-293-293—879) placed second as host of the Fossum Invitational, placing four shots behind winner IUPUI (300-289-286—875). Seniors Dan Ellis and Chris Mory led the Spartans this weekend, finishing among a group tied for third at 2-over par 218. The Boilermakers shot a sizzling 10-under 566 on the opening day of the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate to finish the day in second place, three strokes off the lead. Purdue heads into Monday's final round trailing Baylor by three shots in their bid to repeat as champions in the tournament's third iteration. Senior Tyler Duncan and sophomore Adam Schenk paced the Boilers throughout the day, both finishing in a tie for fourth place with a total of 5-under-par 139.
[TEN // three golf squads ranked by golf world]
Straying on the links, three Big Ten men's golf teams received preseason top-25 recognition in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I College Preseason Coaches' Poll, it was announced on Tuesday. Defending Big Ten Champion Illinois leads the way for the conference squads, holding No. 13 entering the fall season. Iowa checks in at No. 19 in the poll, while Ohio State stands at No. 20. Michigan and Northwestern are each receiving votes in the first poll of the 2011-12 season.
[ELEVEN // spartans and boilers ranked in women’s golf]
On the women’s side, Michigan State and Purdue have been selected as preseason top-25 teams in the Golf World/NGCA Preseason Coaches Poll. After finishing the NCAA Championships as national runners-up in 2011, the Boilermakers debuted at No. 6 in the preseason poll. The defending Big Ten Champion Spartans enter the season ranked 19th nationally. Ohio State is also receiving votes in the first set of rankings of the season.
[TWELVE // news and notes around the conference]
Finally this week, some news and notes from around the conference. In volleyball, Indiana defeated Buffalo 25-14, 25-18, 25-12 on Saturday behind Samantha Thrower's hot hand. The junior had 15 kills on 15 attempts, breaking the Big Ten record for hitting percentage and tying the national record for hitting percentage from a player with between 15-19 attempts. Thrower was named to the All-IU Classic team, along with Morgan Leach and tournament MVP Kelci Marschall. Tournament MVP Claire McElheny and All-Tournament team members Alex Hunt and Courtney Fletcher all had 11 kills, guiding No. 24 Michigan to a 25-17, 25-18, 25-21 sweep of Cal Poly and the La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational title. The 11th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team earned its second straight 3-0 win over No. 4 Texas, to capture the Diet Coke Classic and give Texas its first back-to-back sweeps since Oct. 2 and 4, 2000. Illinois defeated Houston, 3-1, and Dayton, 3-2, on Saturday to capture the State Farm Illini Classic title for the sixth-straight season. Northwestern swept UIC Saturday night in the championship match of the Chicago Challenge, claiming its eighth crown in 11 attempts in the local tournament. On the soccer pitch, the 23rd-ranked Ohio State men's soccer team captured the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic title with a 4-2 win over Stetson Sunday afternoon at a rain-soaked Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Sebastian Rivas was named the MVP of the sixth annual tournament after scoring his first two career tallies between the pair of games in the Classic. In the same tournament, Penn State’s Bob Warming secured his 400th career win on Sunday as the No. 15 Nittany Lions downed Florida International, 1-0. Warming became just the 31st coach in NCAA men's soccer history to reach the 400-win milestone. A coaching veteran of 34 years, he ranks sixth among active Division I head coaches and 15th all-time in career wins. His current overall record stands at 400-189-61 (.662). In Bloomington, a 6-0 win over Dayton gave Indiana its first adidas/IU Credit Union Classic tournament title since 2005. On the women’s side, Iowa posted a 3-1 win over American University on Sunday, marking five consecutive wins and the first time in program history the team started 5-0.