Nov. 16, 2008
[ONE // three teams in contention for big ten football title]
In Week 12 of Big Ten football, two conference teams played they way into contention for the league title, while one team stayed put in its hunt for the championship. Penn State fought off a determined Indiana squad to score 24 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Hoosiers, 34-7. Ohio State stuck to the ground game against Illinois and remained in the title hunt with a 30-20 victory over Illinois, while the third championship contender, Michigan State, was idle on the weekend. In other Big Ten action, Iowa bested Purdue 22-17, Northwestern topped Michigan 21-14, and Wisconsin kept the Paul Bunyan Axe with a 35-32 victory over Minnesota.
[TWO // news and notes from the gridiron]
In a week where cold, windy and wet weather wreaked havoc over Big Ten Country, several conference coaches were forced to the running attack Saturday. Iowa’s Shonn Greene ran for 211 yards on 30 carries, Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill scampered for 117 yards and two scores, and Ohio State touted two 100-yard rushers in Chris Wells (143) and freshman QB Terrelle Pryor (110). Michigan’s Carlos Brown had a season-high 115 yards rushing for the Wolverines and even Indiana’s Marcus Thigpen managed 72 yards on eight carries, including a 57-yard touchdown, against a potent Penn State rush defense.
[THREE // not-so baumed-out spartans – msu tops hoosiers for soccer title]
Entering the 2008 season, the Michigan State men’s soccer team had defeated Indiana just twice since 1965. But with 30-year head coach Joe Baum announcing his retirement at the end of the year, the 2008 campaign would soon become a fairy tale story for the Spartans. Another chapter of that story was written on Sunday as MSU defeated Indiana 1-0 for the Big Ten Tournament Championship. It was the second time this season the Spartans topped the Hoosiers and the win Sunday also marked the first time since Indiana in 2006 that a team captured both the conference regular-season and tournament championships. Doug DeMartin scored the winning goal for the Spartans and was named the Offensive Player of the Championship. Teammate Avery Steinlage, MSU’s sophomore goalkeeper, was named the Defensive Player of the Championship. Take a look at the 2008 Big Ten All-Tournament Team by clicking here.
[FOUR // conference office hands out postseason soccer awards]
Speaking of Michigan State’s DeMartin and Baum, the Spartan pair was among those honored by the conference office this week in the announcement of the annual postseason soccer awards. DeMartin was unanimously selected as Player of the Year, while Baum garnered all first-place votes for Coach of the Year. Indiana’s Will Bruin was dubbed Freshman of the Year. A complete look at the All-Big Ten and All-Freshman teams can be viewed here.
[FIVE // penn state’s share and streak]
Congratulations to the Penn State women’s volleyball team, which this week not only set an NCAA record, but clinched a share of the Big Ten title as well. On Friday against Illinois, the Nittany Lions used a three-game sweep to extend its winning streak to a new NCAA-record 53 matches. The defending national champions moved to 28-0 overall and 16-0 in conference play with a sweep over Purdue on Saturday, which earned them a share of the Big Ten title. The championship is the sixth consecutive for the Nittany Lions and the 12th since joining the league for the 1991 season. With one more win, Penn State will claim the title outright for the sixth straight year.
[SIX // big ten women’s soccer advances in ncaa tournament]
The 2008 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Bracket was announced on Tuesday with four Big Ten teams making the cut. Penn State earned the conference’s automatic qualifying bid with its win in the Big Ten Tournament, while Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota also gained bids. By the end of the week, the Illini and Gophers advanced through the second round of play. BigTen.org has been following the progress of these teams on its NCAA Women's Soccer Championship Page found here.
[SEVEN // big ten/ncaa field hockey stops for snow]
Three conference field hockey teams earned entrance into the NCAA Field Hockey Championship and after Sunday, only was to remain. Penn State dropped its first round contest and the way the bracket worked out, Iowa and Michigan State advanced to battle each other in the second round. And they did… until it snowed. With the game scoreless in the 47th minute of regulation, officials delayed the contest to clear the snow off the playing surface and then opted to postpone the game. Play will resume Monday morning with 27:45 left in regulation. Be sure to follow along Monday on the Big Ten’s 2008 NCAA Field Hockey Championship Page.
[EIGHT // women running their way to ncaa championship]
Six Big Ten women’s cross country teams placed in the top three in regional competition this past weekend. In the Great Lakes Region, Michigan (72 points) captured the crown, followed by Wisconsin (80) and Michigan State (83) in second and third. Minnesota (57) took home the Midwest Region championship, followed by Illinois (64) in second. In Great Lakes competition, four conference runners finished atop the leaderboard. Michigan State’s Nicole Bush (20:48.5) won the title, with Michigan’s Nicole Edwards (20:57.4), Wisconsin’s Gwen Jorgensen (21:01.1) and Indiana’s Wendi Robinson (21:03.9) finishing in the top 4. In the Midwest, Iowa senior Racheal Marchand earned the individual title in a time of 20:32.05. The top-two team finishers from each region secured a berth in the NCAA Championships, while 13 additional at-large squads will fill the field of 31 on Monday.
[NINE // men’s teams advance to ncaa championship too]
The Wisconsin men’s cross country team captured the Great Lakes Region championship with 39 points this past weekend, while Michigan finished runner-up with 62 points, meaning both Big Ten squads earned an automatic invite to the NCAA Championship. Minnesota (51) finished second in the Midwest Region, as did Penn State (73) in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Gophers were fueled by a one-two finish by All-Americans Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough, while Penn State freshman Vince McNally placed sixth overall in the Mid-Atlantic. And despite not having a runner in the top three, the Big Ten placed runners in positions No. 4-10 in the Great Lakes Region.
[TEN // grapplers take care of business in clash with acc]
A trio of conference wrestling teams competed this week in the ACC-Big Ten Clash and completed a near sweep over one of its rival leagues. No. 9 Illinois, No.12 Wisconsin and Michigan State won eight of the nine matches on the day and helped the Big Ten outscore the ACC in total points, 233-109. Complete results of the Clash can be found in Michigan State’s recap here.
[ELEVEN // a different kind of wrestling… and champion]
Finally this week, we honor the professional development of one of the conference’s former champions. In the past we have recognized former Big Ten athletes who have gone on to shine in the Super Bowl, NBA Finals and on the PGA Tour. So it is only fitting that we recognize former Minnesota wrestler Brock Lesnar for capturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship this past Saturday in just his fourth career mixed-martial arts fight. The 2000 NCAA Heavyweight Champion and 1999 runner-up, who captured the Big Ten title in both of those years, captured a TKO victory over Randy Couture at the 3:07 mark of the second round. Lesnar now stands as the only professional wrestler to capture both the World Wrestling Entertainment and UFC-MMA tile.