Nov. 20, 2011
[ONE // football titles to share...as of now]
Congratulations to the Michigan State and Penn State football teams, which collected at least a share of their respective division titles on Saturday. The Spartans also punched their ticket to Indianapolis to take part in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game following a 55-3 win over Indiana. Michigan State will serve as the Legends Division representative while either Penn State or Wisconsin will participate as the Leaders Division representative. The Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Lucas Oil Stadium with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. Penn State positioned itself for a title run with a 20-14 road win at Ohio State, while Wisconsin rallied on the road to top Illinois, 28-17. In other action, Michigan impressed in a 45-17 result over Nebraska, Iowa defeated Purdue 31-21, and Northwestern earned bowl eligibility with a 28-13 victory over Minnesota.
[TWO // get your tickets to the big game]
Speaking of the 2011 Big Ten Football Championship Game, approximately 1,100 additional tickets were made available to the general public this past Friday. The inaugural championship game – featuring the champions of the Legends and Leaders Divisions – will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 3. Kickoff is set for 8:17 p.m. EDT. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000, and range from $50 to $125 depending on seat location. There is a limit of eight tickets per order. Additionally, VIP ticket packages, including 50-yard line seats, pre-game hospitality and additional championship weekend events, are available through Indiana Sports Corp at (800) HI-FIVES. Ticket blocks are being held for the two participating institutions and will be sold through those university ticket offices once the participating teams are determined.
[THREE // honor roll]
Big Ten football standouts advanced their names on the ballots for several national awards this past week. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson was named a semifinalist for the 2011 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced on Wednesday. Wilson is among 15 players and nine quarterbacks to be named semifinalists for the award. Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and Penn State's Devon Still were selected as semifinalists for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club announced on Thursday. Mercilus and Still are two of the five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy, given to the top defensive player in the country. Two Big Ten players were tabbed semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, while one league star was named among the semifinalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore and Wisconsin's Jacob Pederson are among the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in the country, while Illinois' A.J. Jenkins is one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the top receiver in the nation.
[FOUR // first to the net]
Nebraska volleyball clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Championship on Saturday, earning a 3-1 win against Wisconsin en route to its first title. The fourth-ranked Huskers moved to 16-2 in Big Ten play with the win over the Badgers and currently hold a 23-3 overall record in their first season in the Big Ten. Nebraska dropped the first set against Wisconsin, 25-12, but took the next three to win the match. The Huskers won by a score of 25-17 score in the second set, following with a 25-13 win in Set 3 and a 25-22 victory to clinch the match in the fourth set. Hannah Werth led the Huskers with 14 kills, while Lara Dykstra posted 14 digs to lead the team. If Nebraska wins either of its matches next week, it would earn the outright Big Ten title and the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The Huskers travel to Iowa on Tuesday and Northwestern on Saturday.
[FIVE // the nation’s best of the week]
Staying with volleyball, Purdue setter Rachel Davis was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week this past Tuesday after leading the Boilermakers to back-to-back Big Ten wins a week ago. Davis recorded 51 assists and 21 digs in Purdue's five-set win over Iowa before recording 42 assists and helping the Boilermakers hit .410 as a team in three sets against then-No. 2 Nebraska. The award is the first of Davis' career and the second by a Purdue player this season after Ariel Turner took home the honor on Nov. 1.
[SIX // hoosiers keep big ten alive in men’s soccer]
Indiana and Northwestern earned berths to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship on Monday, marking the ninth straight year that two or more conference teams earned bids to the tournament. Indiana entered the NCAA Championship as the No. 16 seed, earning a bye into the second round. Northwestern garnered its sixth NCAA Championship berth after winning both the Big Ten Championship and Big Ten Tournament, receiving the conference’s automatic bid. The Wildcats, however, dropped a 3-1 contest to Akron on Thursday in the opening round, finishing their 2011 campaign with an 11-5-5 record. The Hoosiers blanked Old Dominion 3-0 on Sunday to earn a bid to the Sweet 16. Nikita Kotlov scored a goal in the 17th and 71st minutes to pace the 16th-seeded Hoosiers. Tim Wylie added the final tally in the 80th minute. IU will now face the winner of North Carolina-Coastal Carolina on Nov. 27.
[SEVEN // ohio state, penn state conclude season for big ten women’s soccer]
The Big Ten women’s soccer season came to an end this past week as both Ohio State and Penn State fell in the third round of the NCAA Championship. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-1 decision to Duke, while the Nittany Lions suffered a 4-2 setback to Wake Forest. OSU advanced to the third round after topping Milwaukee 2-1 on Friday, while fourth-seeded Penn State ousted Marquette by a count of 4-1. Ohio State finished the season with 12-9-2 and Penn State was 21-5. Also in action on Friday was Illinois, which dropped a second-round bout to No. 2 seed Oklahoma State, 1-0. The Fighting Illini finished the season with a 17-5-2 overall record.
[EIGHT // two dozen field hockey stars earn all-region honors]
Twenty-four Big Ten student-athletes earned Longstreth/NFHCA Division I All-Region Team accolades this past week, including 15 first-team honorees. All seven Big Ten field hockey teams were represented on the list of recipients. Congratulations to first-team selections Brenna Moeljadi of Indiana, Iowa’s Jessica Barnett, Sarah Drake, and Kathleen McGraw, Michigan’s Bryn Bain Aline Fobe and Rachel Mack, Northwestern’s Chelsea Armstrong and Nikki Parsley, Ohio State’s Paula Pastor-Pitarque and Jenn Sciulli, and Penn State’s Kelsey Amy, Laura Gebhart, Brittany Grzywacz, and Ayla Halus. Other All-Region picks included Iowa’s Kim Scraper, Michigan’s Mallory Albini, Michigan State’s Abby Barker, Molly Cassidy, and Adele Lever, Ohio State’s Danica Deckard and Berta Queralt, and Penn State’s Lauren Alloway and Lauren Purvis. The 2011 All-American Teams will be announced on Monday, Nov. 21.
[NINE // running for regional honors]
Regional honors were also awarded in men’s and women’s cross country this past week. The USTFCCCA announced on Wednesday its Regional Athletes and Coaches of the Year, with Minnesota's Hassan Mead earning Midwest Region Athlete of the Year accolades and Wisconsin's Mick Byrne taking home Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors. Mead earns his third Athlete of the Year award after finishing first at the Midwest Regional on Saturday. Byrne, the Big Ten Coach of the Year, receives his third award and his second consecutive honor after leading the top-ranked Badgers to their 10th straight regional title and 13th consecutive Big Ten Championship. On the women’s side, Michigan senior Danielle Tauro and head coach Mike McGuire were named among the USTFCCCA Regional Athletes and Coaches of the Year, also announced on Wednesday. Tauro took home Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year honors, while McGuire was named Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year. Tauro paced the Wolverines at the Great Lakes Regional on Saturday, finishing in first place individually, while McGuire guided Michigan to its eighth regional crown over the weekend en route to its eighth consecutive NCAA Championships appearance. In regards to the NCAA event, Big Ten cross country sends a strong contingent to Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday as five men's teams and five women's teams search for a national title. Along with the conference teams competing in the event, five men's and three women's runners travel individually to the meet.
[TEN // no need to grapple for tv coverage]
BTN will provide its most extensive coverage ever of Big Ten wrestling for the 2011-12 season, as 43 regular-season dual-meets, the 2011 Midlands Championships and the 2012 Big Ten Championships will be broadcast on the network or streamed online. Thirty-nine events will be shown live either online or on the network, it was announced on Friday. BTN's coverage began on Sunday as No. 4 Minnesota shocked No. 2 Penn State in State College, 23-14, taking seven of the 10 matches. The network concludes the season with a live broadcast of the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Purdue, on March 4. BTN will provide coverage for 33 conference matchups throughout the season. It will also broadcast the final rounds of the Midlands Championships, one of the premiere open tournaments in the country to be held at Northwestern, on Dec. 30.
[ELEVEN // claire in the community]
Congratulations to Northwestern head women's tennis coach Claire Pollard, who earned the 2011 USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award, it was announced on Wednesday. Pollard will be presented with the award at the ITA Coaches Convention on Dec. 15. The honor is presented each year to a college coach who provides a leadership role both on campus and throughout the community.
[TWELVE // the big ten’s big league managers]
Finally this week, two former Big Ten standouts made headlines in Major League Baseball, as one was hired to manage the World Series Champions, while the other was named the top bench coach of the National League. Former Michigan State baseball player Kirk Gibson was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Wednesday. Gibson led the Arizona Diamondbacks to 94 wins and the National League West Division title in his first full year as skipper. Gibson is the second Big Ten alum in the last six years to be named N.L. Manager of the Year, as Northwestern's Joe Girardi earned the honor with the Florida Marlins in 2006. Two days before Gibson was honored, former Michigan catcher Mike Matheny was named manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the third former Big Ten player actively managing in the Major Leagues, joining Gibson and Girardi, who is now with the New York Yankees.