Sept. 21, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // big ten football tacks on another six wins]
Big Ten football teams were victorious in six of the eight games on the schedule this past Saturday. Michigan State topped rival Notre Dame 23-7 in East Lansing, Minnesota rolled over Florida Atlantic 37-3, Northwestern doubled up Ohio 16-8, and Ohio State beat Troy 28-10. Other winners in the conference included Penn State, a 45-3 victor over Temple, and Purdue, which had a 32-25 decision over Central Michigan. Indiana fell 42-20 to Ball State and Iowa dropped a 21-20 heartbreaker on the road at Pittsburgh.
[TWO // news and notes from the gridiron]
Week 4 in Big Ten football brought us several memorable moments, including another absolutely dominant performance by Michigan State running back Javon Ringer. One week after rushing for career highs with 43 carries and 282 yards, which won him his second consecutive Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award, Ringer made his case yet again with 201 yards and two touchdowns on 39 attempts in Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. According to STATS, Ringer’s 143 carries this season makes him the busiest rusher through the first four games of the season since Iowa State’s Troy Davis had 149 at this point in 1996. Keeping with the rushing theme, Purdue’s Kory Sheets rushed for 91 yards on 17 carries against Central Michigan, but it was his 46-yard touchdown run that garnered the ninth-best play on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 List Saturday. On a career note, congrats to Northwestern tailback Tyrell Sutton, who became just the second player in NU history to pass both 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards. A tip of the cap goes to Ohio State freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who threw for four TDs Saturday in a game that marked the first time a true freshman had started at QB for the Buckeyes since Art Schlichter in 1978. Defensively, Minnesota recorded four takeaways against Florida Atlantic on Saturday and now boasts a plus-11 turnover margin, which ranks third in the country. Like Minnesota, Northwestern is now 4-0 on the season, marking the first time since 1962 that the Wildcats have won their first four games. Penn State’s 45 points against Temple increased the Nittany Lions’ season-point total to 211, which is this most in the 122 years of the program. Finally, congrats to Purdue’s Joe Tiller, who captured his 85th career win at Purdue and passed Jack Mollenkopf as the winningest coach in school history.
[THREE // badger backer earns national honor]
Just because Wisconsin football was idle week did not mean the Badgers were totally out the limelight. Senior linebacker DeAndre Levy was named Tuesday as the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America. In Wisconsin’s Sept. 13 road win over Fresno State, Levy had a team-high nine tackles, four of them for loss, a QB sack, an interception and a pass breakup. He was also tabbed Monday as the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Week.
[FOUR // northwestern olympian honored at wrigley]
Baseball fans were able to check out an Olympic swimmer this past week as Northwestern standout Matt Grevers threw out the first pitch at Wednesday’s Milwaukee Brewers/Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Grevers captured three medals for the U.S. at the Beijing games, including gold medals in the 4x100-meter freestyle and medley relays. He also earned an individual silver in the 100-meter backstroke. The 2007 Wildcats' graduate was a four-time NCAA champion during his time at Northwestern.
[FIVE // wildcat soccer player honored by soccerbuzz]
In last week’s recap, we highlighted the four hat tricks that were made in Big Ten soccer and field hockey competition, and one of those performances was honored on the national level. Northwestern senior Amanda Hoffman’s three-goal performance earned her a spot on the SoccerBuzz Magazine Team of the Week on Tuesday. Her hat trick was the first for NU since 2004 and only the sixth in program history.
[SIX // gophers’ gibbemeyer also recognized nationally]
Yet another Big Ten standout was honored on the national stage this week as Minnesota sophomore Lauren Gibbemeyer was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Tuesday. The honor was the first for the Golden Gopher, but most importantly, it was the second for a conference player in the first three weeks of the season, which is the first time that has happened in the history of the award. It was also the first time since 1997 that two of the first three award winners have come from the same conference.
[SEVEN // another gopher honored]
Former Minnesota women’s basketball player Lindsay Whalen was honored this past week as one of three WNBA Peak Performers for the 2008 season. The Connecticut Sun leader dished out 5.4 assists per game to pace the league in that category. Other Peak Performer award winners included Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi (scoring) and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker (rebounding). The Gophers’ all-time leading scorer and three-time first-team All-American also became only the second player in WNBA history to average over 10 points, five or more rebounds, and five or more assists in a season. She finished the year averaging 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists each time out.
[EIGHT // enhanced coverage announced for big ten women’s hoops]
This past Monday the Big Ten announced that its women’s basketball teams are set to receive more coverage than ever before. A record total of 119 games will be distributed by the Big Ten Network, BigTenNetwork.com, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU during the 2008-09 regular season. The Big Ten announced back in September that 41 games would be televised to a national audience, but now an additional 32 non-conference games will appear on the five platforms and another 45 conference matchups will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com. For a complete look at the release and the full Big Ten women’s basketball television schedule, click here!
[NINE // preseason cross country rankings released]
The USTFCCCA Men's and Women’s Cross Country National Preseason Poll was released this past Tuesday and nine total conference squads earned spots in the top 30. On the men’s side, Wisconsin opens the season ranked sixth, followed by No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Minnesota. Indiana and Michigan State are receiving votes outside the poll. In the women’s poll, Michigan State leads the way in eighth, followed in the top 10 by Minnesota and Illinois. Wisconsin and Michigan are 13th and 17th, respectively, while Iowa is 27th overall. Penn State is receiving votes outside the top 30.
[TEN // four big ten soccer standouts the “class” of the field]
Four Big Ten standouts were named among 60 men’s and women’s soccer players Wednesday as candidates for the 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Illinois’ forward Emily Zurrer was honored on the women’s side, while Indiana goalkeeper Chay Cain and midfielder Brad Ring, along with Michigan State forward Doug DeMartin, were selected to the men’s list. The award, given annually to senior student-athletes across nine NCAA Division I sports based on classroom, character, community and competition, has become one of the most prestigious honors in college athletics.
[ELEVEN // our thoughts on love]
The Big Ten has a very special relationship with the Mid-American Conference, which extends far beyond the field of battle. The two conferences have long worked together to improve basketball officiating and promote sportsmanship in all sports. In addition to having a strong partnership on the football field, several head coaches have come to the Big Ten from the MAC. So our thoughts and prayers are with the MAC, Ball State, and the family of wide receiver Dante Love, who suffered a cervical spine fracture and spinal cord injury in the Cardinals’ 42-20 win at Indiana on Saturday. Love, who entered the weekend as the nation’s leading receiver with 144.33 yards per game, was injured early in the second quarter and was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to both Bloomington Hospital and Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Ball State released an update Sunday saying that Love had five hours worth of surgery to stabilize the fracture and that he is currently moving all four extremities. Certainly that is great news to hear, but we hope Dante is able to make a full recovery and get back to catching passes soon.