This Week in the Big Ten

Luke Donald, a Northwestern graduate and three-time BIg Ten Player of the Year, helped Team Europe retain the Ryder Cup on Sunday.

Sept. 30, 2012

[ONE // conference play underway]
The first week of conference play is in the books for Big Ten football.  Ohio State gave Urban Meyer his first-ever conference win with a 17-16 victory over No. 18 Michigan State, while No. 20 Nebraska rallied to beat Wisconsin 30-27 in primetime on Saturday.  Northwestern was on the positive end of a 44-29 result against Indiana, which saw both teams combine for 1,116 total yards of offense.  Elsewhere, Penn State topped Illinois 35-7 and Iowa bested Minnesota, 31-13.  In non-conference play, Purdue outlasted Marshall by a 51-41 count.   

[TWO // leading lion honored for defense]
Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday after helping the Nittany Lion defense hold Illinois to seven points on Saturday. The senior recorded six tackles with 0.5 sack and picked off two passes, including a school-record 99-yard return to the Illinois' 1-yard line at the end of the first half. He intercepted his second-pass of the day late in the third quarter, which led to a Penn State touchdown.

[THREE // eight players named semifinalists for campbell trophy]
Eight Big Ten student-athletes were among 50 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players to be named semifinalists for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy, it was announced on Thursday. The Big Ten was one of only two FBS conferences with eight or more student-athletes named semifinalists for the award, with recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Big Ten semifinalists are Indiana's Adam Replogle, Iowa's James Vandenberg, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, Northwestern's Patrick Ward, Ohio State's Ben Buchanan, Penn State's Pete Massaro, Purdue's Robert Maci and Wisconsin's Shelton Johnson. Four student-athletes from Big Ten schools have won the Campbell Trophy, a group that includes Nebraska's Rob Zatechka (1994) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (2000) and Ohio State's Bobby Hoying (1995) and Craig Krenzel (2003).

[FOUR // sims named top tight end of the week]
Michigan State's Dion Sims was named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week, as announced by the Nassau County Sports Commission, following his effort against Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Sims recorded six catches for a career-best 112 yards and a touchdown, with three receptions, 73 yards and the touchdown coming in the final quarter. This season, Sims ranks fourth in the conference in receptions (5.5) and fifth in receiving yards per game (69.2), having totaled 277 yards on 22 catches through four games.

[FIVE // olympic sport roundup]
Taking a look around the Big Ten’s Olympic fall sports, Penn State and Purdue sit atop the volleyball standings at 4-0 following a pair of wins this past week.  The top-ranked Nittany Lions blanked both Wisconsin and No. 10 Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, respectively.  Purdue, ranked 13th overall, topped Northwestern 3-1 on Friday and then stopped No. 21 Illinois 3-2 in a five-set thriller.  In men’s soccer, Indiana and Northwestern are tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0 after the Hoosiers scored a 1-0 double-overtime win against Penn State on Saturday, while 18th-ranked Northwestern bested Michigan State 2-1 in overtime.  On the women’s side, first-place Penn State is a perfect 5-0 after the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions defeated Minnesota, 4-3.  In field hockey, Iowa remained undefeated in conference play at 2-0 with a 2-1 victory over Ohio State.  Eleven men’s and 12 women’s cross country teams were also in action this past week.

[SIX // men’s basketball times announced]
For the sixth consecutive year, every Big Ten men’s basketball conference and tournament game will be nationally broadcast, the conference office announced Wednesday. The Big Ten’s media agreements result in more than 100 games appearing on BTN, CBS Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU during the 2012-13 conference season.  Big Ten men’s basketball will typically reach live national television audiences on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday during the conference season. The Big Ten schedule will open on Monday, Dec. 31, as 2012 Big Ten Co-Champion and conference tournament winner Michigan State travels to Minnesota for a 2 p.m. ET tip, and preseason No. 1 Indiana heads to Iowa for a 4 p.m. ET start. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN2.

[SEVEN // ready to watch women’s hoops]
The Big Ten announced its 2013 conference women's basketball television schedule this past Thursday, revealing extensive exposure for its 12 institutions. In total, 47 regular season conference games will be televised to a national audience, 40 of which will be carried live by BTN, six on ESPN2 and one on CBS Sports. For the sixth straight year, every game of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament, which will be held March 7-10 at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., will be televised live to a national audience. The first 10 games of the tournament will appear on BTN, while the championship game will be carried by ESPN2. In total, 58 conference or Big Ten Tournament contests are slated for live televised coverage this season.

[EIGHT // pool time]
The 2012-13 season of Big Ten men’s swimming and diving began this past weekend when Michigan State hosted Wisconsin on Friday in the Spartans’ first outdoor meet in 15 years.  On Saturday, the Badgers traveled to Ann Arbor, but fell to Michigan, 172.5-115.5.  Minnesota begins its campaign this upcoming weekend, when the Golden Gophers travel to Michigan for a 5 p.m. ET meet.  Indiana, Northwestern and Penn State each begin their seasons on the road on Oct.19.

[NINE // women dive into season as well]
The 2012-13 season of Big Ten women’s swimming and diving opened this weekend when Michigan State hosted Wisconsin on Friday prior to the Badgers traveling to Michigan on Saturday.  After a win at MSU, Wisconsin dropped a 157-143 meet to the Wolverines.  Minnesota begins its campaign the following weekend, as the Golden Gophers travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan at 5 p.m. ET. On Oct. 12, Nebraska heads to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota and St. Cloud State.  Indiana, Iowa, and Penn State begin their campaigns when they hit the road on Oct. 19.

[TEN // a hawkeye hired by houston]
Former Hawkeye Bo Porter has been named the next manager of the Houston Astros, the organization announced on Thursday. A two-sport athlete at Iowa, Porter was an outfielder and a defensive back from 1990-94.  Porter is currently the third base coach for the Washington Nationals, and will remain with the organization through its postseason run. When he takes the reins at Houston, he will become the fourth former Big Ten player actively serving as manager in the MLB, joining Michigan's Mike Matheny (St. Louis Cardinals), Michigan State's Kirk Gibson (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Northwestern's Joe Girardi (New York Yankees).

[ELEVEN // mikulak now a common name]
The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) recently approved naming a pommel horse skill after University of Michigan men's gymnast and 2012 U.S. Olympic team member Sam Mikulak. The junior became the first gymnast to compete the skill at an official FIG competition when he performed it during the men's qualification round at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  The "Mikulak" is a double scissor forward with a hop from one end of the horse to the other. The skill actually begins with forward leg swings and half turn of the body, but ends with backward leg swings. A typical scissor on the pommel horse is a skill where the gymnast performs a pendulum swing with both legs individually, changing sides of the horse at its peak.

[TWELVE // big ten on both ends of ryder cup celebration]
Finally this week, the Big Ten found itself on both ends of the Ryder Cup, held over the past three days at Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago.  Northwestern graduate and three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Luke Donald helped Team Europe to a stunning comeback on Sunday and a 14.5-13.5 victory to retain the prestigious Ryder Cup.  Donald captured a 2&1 victory over Team USA’s Bubba Watson on Sunday to finish the competition with a 2-2-0 record.  Steve Stricker, an Illinois grad and the 1988 and 1989 Big Ten Player of the Year, struggled throughout the competition, posting an 0-4 record overall for Team USA.