Oct. 24, 2010
[ONE // michigan state remains undefeated to lead big ten football race]
After four weekends of Big Ten football action, Michigan State is now the only undefeated team in league play after the Spartans improved to 4-0 in conference, 8-0 overall, with a victory at Northwestern. Ohio State and Wisconsin both picked up triumphs to stand just one game back in the standings at 3-1 in the conference. The Buckeyes shut out Purdue while the Badgers knocked off a ranked team for the second straight Saturday with a triumph at Iowa. In other conference action, Illinois and Penn State picked up Big Ten victories. For full recaps on each Big Ten contest on Oct. 23, click on this link.
[TWO // big ten puts three teams in the top ten]
The Big Ten leads all conferences with three top-10 teams in the Associated Press (AP), USA Today coaches and Harris polls. The Big Ten is also one of only three conferences with four or more teams appearing among the top 25 in all three polls. Undefeated Michigan State leads the way in all three polls and moved up three spots to No. 5 in voting by media, coaches and Harris poll voters. Wisconsin is rated No. 9 in all three polls, followed by Ohio State at No. 10 in each ranking. Other Big Ten teams among the top 25 are Iowa, at No. 18 in the media poll, No. 19 in the coaches voting and No. 17 in the Harris ratings, and Michigan, tabbed No. 25 by the coaches and just outside the top 25 in the AP and Harris polls. Illinois and Northwestern are also receiving at least one vote in at least one of the polls. In the BCS rankings announced Sunday, Michigan State is fifth, followed by No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 11 Ohio State and No. 18 Iowa.
[THREE // conference puts a "lott" of players up for national award]
The Big Ten tied for the conference lead with five student-athletes being named quarterfinalists for the annual Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The Big Ten's five quarterfinalists are Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones, the Ohio State duo of defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and linebacker Ross Homan, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt. The Big Ten and Big 12 led all conferences with five quarterfinalists each, followed by the Pac-10 (four), ACC (three) and SEC (three).
[FOUR // pacing all conferences again]
The Big Ten leads all conferences with six players on the midseason watch list for the Mackey Award, given annually to the best collegiate tight end. The ACC and SEC rank second with three players each on the watch list. Big Ten student-athletes appearing on the midseason watch list are Indiana's Ted Bolser, Iowa's Allen Reisner, Michigan State's Charlie Gantt, Minnesota's Eric Lair, Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks. The John Mackey Award midseason watch list is an update from the preseason watch list. This list is meant to draw attention to tight ends in contention for the annual award based on their performance in the first half of the active season. Three Big Ten players have claimed the Mackey Award - Purdue's Tim Stratton in 2000, Iowa's Dallas Clark in 2002 and Minnesota's Matt Spaeth in 2006.
[FIVE // jones tabbed for butkus award]
Michigan State's Greg Jones was named this past week as one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker and named after former Illini and Hall of Famer Dick Butkus. Jones, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was also named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award last season. Eight Big Ten standouts have claimed the Butkus Award, most recently when Ohio State's James Laurinaitis was honored following the 2007 season.
[SIX // an "icon" for all sports]
Northwestern's Otto Graham was named this past Tuesday as Big Ten Icon No. 14. The countdown of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover, continues at 9 PM ET on Tuesday, Oct. 26, with a profile of the Waukegan, Ill., native, who was an All-American in football and basketball for the Wildcats. Graham came to Evanston on a basketball scholarship and was the team's captain and leading scorer, earning All-America honors in 1944. On the Northwestern baseball team, Graham was a .300 hitter and centerfielder. Graham may never have played football or embarked on a Hall of Fame career if he hadn't been discovered in a fraternity football league by Northwestern coach Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf in the fall of 1940. The following year, Graham was in the Wildcats' starting lineup, where he would stay all three years. During his senior year, Graham won the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football as Big Ten MVP and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
[SEVEN // five hoops teams named in nation's preseason top 25]
The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with five teams ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top 25 Men's Basketball Coaches Poll, released Thursday. With three squads in the poll's top 10, the Big Ten leads all conferences. Coming off its second consecutive Final Four appearance, Michigan State leads the Big Ten at No. 2. Ohio State follows at No. 5, and Purdue comes in at No. 8. Also ranked in the top 25 are Illinois, who is tied for 16th, and No. 24 Wisconsin. Minnesota and Northwestern are receiving at least one vote outside the top 25, giving the Big Ten seven teams mentioned in the rankings, which is tied for the lead among all conferences.
[EIGHT // play ball]
The Big East and Big Ten conferences, in conjunction with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission released Wednesday the schedule for the third Big East/Big Ten Baseball Challenge. The 2011 Challenge will feature eight teams from each conference playing in 24 games over three days to open the college baseball season from Feb. 18-20. The 2011 Challenge will feature Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, St. John's and West Virginia from the Big East, as well as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue from the Big Ten. The event will be played at current and former Major League facilities in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, including Bright House Field and Dunedin Stadium, the spring homes of the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively. Games will also be played at Clearwater's Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, and St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field and the Walter Fuller Baseball (Naimoli) Complex. The Big Ten won the inaugural Challenge in 2009, 15-9, while the Big East was victorious in the 2010 event, 17-13.
[NINE // competing against the world]
Two Big Ten women's golfers competed this past week at the 2010 World Amateur Team Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Purdue's Laura Gonzalez-Escallon, the reigning Big Ten Champion and Freshman of the Year, competed for Belgium and tied for 40th with a 5-over par 293 (72-72-72-77). Ohio State's Susana Benavides, a top-15 finisher at the 2010 Big Ten Championships, represented her native Bolivia in the tournament and placed tied for 73rd with a score of 300 (77-76-76-71). This upcoming week will be the men's turn and Illinois golfers Scott Langley and Thomas Pieters will be competing. Langley, the defending NCAA individual Champion and Big Ten Golfer of the Year, will be representing the United States and Pieters will play for Belgium.
[TEN // a "wild" winning finish for wildcat golfer]
Four Big Ten men's golf teams competed this past week at the UNCG Bridgestone Golf Collegiate at Forest Oaks Country Club, but it was one individual that stoles the headlines in the final round. Northwestern senior David Lipsky played his final four holes in 5-under par Sunday to tie for medalist honors at 14-under 202, a total which ties Luke Donald's school record 54-hole mark set in 2001. Lipsky's final-round 6-under 66 - a career best - followed totals of 4-under 68 in each of the first two rounds of the tournament. The victory is the third of Lipsky's career after he also captured the 2010 Big Ten individual championship and the 2008 Notre Dame Spring Invitational. In the team race, Michigan (279-275-289--843) and Northwestern (285-282-286--853) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, while Minnesota (287-289-303--879) was 13th and Michigan State (297-291-301--889) was 14th. The Wolverines notched three players in the top 10, with Matt Thompson (70-66-71--207), Lion Kim (65-72-72--209) and Joey Garber (71-67-72--210) placing sixth through eighth, respectively.
[ELEVEN // saying goodbye to a legendary gopher]
Finally this week, we pause to mourn the recent passing of Minnesota pioneer Jean Freeman, who died of colon cancer at the age of 60. Freeman spent 31 years as the Minnesota women's swimming and diving team head coach, retiring following the 2003-04 season. Upon her retirement, Freeman served as the M Club Hall of Fame President until January of 2010. During her career, Freeman led Minnesota to back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 1999 and 2000 and was named Big Ten Coach of the Year four times. At the Big Ten level, Freeman coached 48 athletes to Big Ten titles in 53 individual events and 23 relay events. Under Freeman's tutelage, five Gophers earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor. She mentored 58 swimmers to a total of 203 All-America citations in her career.