This Week in the Big Ten

Oct. 5, 2008

[ONE // a look back at saturday’s gridiron action]
Of the five conference games in action this past Saturday, the Big Ten had quite the bookend games to start and end the day.  Michigan State needed a fourth-and-1 stop deep in their own territory to hold off a drive by Iowa to win 16-13 in the day’s opener, while Ohio State was successful in its final drive late in the fourth quarter to stun Wisconsin in the prime-time nightcap, 20-17.  Penn State continued its impressive season with a 20-6 road win at Purdue, while Illinois spoiled Michigan’s Homecoming with a 45-20 outcome in Ann Arbor.  In addition, Minnesota moved to 5-1 on the season with a 16-7 victory at home over Indiana.  

[TWO // news and notes from the gridiron]
When trying to break down which was the most impressive performance in Saturday’s football action, it’s tough to know where to start.  The weekend was billed as a three-way heavyweight battle in the backfield.  The conference’s six top rushers squared off against one another, yet it seemed to be the quarterbacks and receivers that stole the show in most of the games.  In Illinois’ win, Juice Williams racked up 431 all-purpose yards – 310 passing and 121 rushing – to set a Michigan Stadium record.  Ohio State freshman Terrelle Pryor marched his Buckeyes down the field in the final minutes of the game and scored on an 11-yard run to give OSU the lead and the eventual win.  Chris "Beanie" Wells had 168 yards rushing against the Badgers as well.  Minnesota’s Adam Weber completed his first 12 passes and threw for 274 yards, including 190 to wideout Eric Decker on 13 catches, both of which were career highs.  The Golden Gopher victory gave head coach Tim Brewster the first Big Ten victory of his career.  MSU quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 13-of-24 passes for 184 yards in the win, but credit the Iowa defense for shutting down the nation’s second-best rusher.  Javon Ringer, who entered averaging 179.4 yards per game, was held to 91 yards on 25 carries.  His counterpart, Iowa’s Shonn Greene, again caught the eye of many as he went for 157 yards on 30 attempts in the loss.  Penn State’s Daryll Clark completed 18-of-26 passes for 226 yards, while Evan Royster ran for 141 yards and hauled in 53 receiving yards in the win at Purdue.
[THREE // seven football leaders top the class]
Seven Big Ten standouts were among 30 NCAA Division I student-athletes chosen Monday as candidates for the inaugural Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in football.  Ohio State led all teams with three representatives in linebackers Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis, and wideout Brian Robiskie.  Also nominated from the conference was Indiana kicker Austin Starr, Northwestern wide receiver Eric Peterman, Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter, and Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum.  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.

[FOUR // who’s our draddy?]
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced this past Wednesday the 57 Football Bowl Subdivision semifinalists, including eight from the Big Ten, for the 2008 Draddy Trophy.  The annual award honors the top player in the country, who has excelled both on the field and in the classroom.  Congratulations to Illinois’ Ryan McDonald, Indiana’s Austin Starr, Iowa’s Matt Kroul, Northwestern’s Eric Peterman, Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie, Penn State’s Gerald Cadogan, Purdue’s Ryan Baker, and Wisconsin’s Chris Pressley for being named to the list.

[FIVE // illinois and northwestern boast reps on good works team]
Speaking of honors on and off the football field, congratulations to Illinois linebacker Brit Miller and Northwestern wide receiver Eric Peterman for being named Wednesday to the 11-member 2008 Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team.  The selections were honored for embodying the true spirit of “teamwork” and “giving back” through selfless contributions and commendable acts of kindness.

[SIX // diving into another award]
Congratulations to Indiana head diving coach Dr. Jeff Huber, who captured his eighth career Mike Peppe Award on Tuesday as USA Diving’s most outstanding senior diving coach.  Huber was on hand to accept the award at the United States Aquatic Sports Banquet in Atlanta.  He previously captured the award in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

[SEVEN // stop and smell the rosen]
Staying on the sidelines, Michigan head volleyball coach Mark Rosen tied Sandy Vong this past Saturday for the most wins in program history with 177.  Rosen, who guided the Wolverines to a three-set sweep of host Northwestern (25-17, 25-18, 25-23), can become Michigan’s all-time wins leader with a victory this Friday when U-M hosts Purdue.

[EIGHT // more michigan upsets]
One week after the Michigan football team rallied from 19 points down to upset Wisconsin, the Wolverines’ men’s soccer team and women’s filed hockey team chose to get in the action this week.  The soccer team earned two shockers this week, beginning on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over No. 8 Notre Dame.  Four days later, the Wolverines traveled to Bloomington and earned their first-ever win over Indiana with a 1-0 shutout against the 20th-ranked Hoosiers.  Also on Sunday, the U-M field hockey squad earned a 3-2 upset win over No. 19 Ohio State in Ann Arbor.

[NINE // sticking with the sticks]
How about the performances of Michigan State field hockey this past week?  The eight-ranked Spartans earned two wins in three days by a combined score of 18-1. Junior Floor Rijpma racked up a season-high four goals and eight points in Friday’s 9-1 conference victory over Indiana.  In Sunday’s 9-0 outcome against Temple, which was MSU’s eighth-straight win, junior Jeamie Deacon tallied a team-high five points, while Elissa Unger recorded a season-high nine saves in goal.

[TEN // pair of former court leaders honored by wnba]
Congratulations to former Ohio State star Katie Smith, who was named Sunday as the WNBA Finals MVP after leading the Detroit Shock to their third league championship.  After averaging 14.7 points in all 34 regular-season games, Smith unloaded against San Antonio in the three-game sweep.  She tallied a career playoff-best 25 points with nine rebounds and three assists in the opener, followed by 22 points, six assists and five boards in the second game.  On Sunday, she had 18 points and six rebounds in the Shock’s 76-60 clinching win over the Silver Stars.  In addition, former Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen was named first team All-WNBA this past week and was runner-up in MVP voting behind Los Angeles Sparks rookie Candace Parker.

[ELEVEN // remembering cyril]
Finally this past week, the Big Ten learned of the passing of Cyril Birge, a conference basketball official from 1959-71.  Birge died Thursday in Jasper, Ind., following a brief illness.  He was 93.  Prior to his tenure in the Big Ten, Birge was perhaps best known for being one of the three referees who officiated the legendary 1954 Indiana High School State Championship between Milan and Muncie Central.  Milan’s memorable upset served as the basis for the movie "Hoosiers."  Brige was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.