This Week in the Big Ten

Nov. 22, 2009

[ONE // buckeyes claim outright football championship]
In the final week of the Big Ten football regular season, Ohio State clinched the outright conference title with a 21-10 victory over rival Michigan.  Northwestern earned an impressive win on its home turf with a 33-31 upset over No. 17 Wisconsin.  In trophy games, Iowa blanked Minnesota 12-0 for the Floyd of Rosdale, Purdue ousted Indiana 38-21 to keep the Old Oaken Bucket and Penn State won the Land Grant Trophy with a 42-14 decision over Michigan State.

[TWO // final football players of the week announced]
Hats off to standouts from Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State for claiming the last Player of the Week honors for the 2009 football season.  The Offensive award was shared between Northwestern QB Mike Kafka and Penn State signal caller Daryll Clark. Kafka guided Northwestern to its third-straight conference victory and second over a nationally ranked team in the last three weeks by throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns against Wisconsin. The senior quarterback connected on 65 percent of his throws, completing 26 of 40 passes with no interceptions. Clark matched a career high with four touchdown passes while compiling 310 yards through the air to help lead Penn State to a road victory against Michigan State. The senior quarterback connected on 70.4 percent of his passes, completing 19 of 27 attempts with no interceptions.  Iowa’s Troy Johnson had a career-high 11 tackles, one sack, one pass breakup and a fumble forced and recovered in the Hawkeyes’ 12-0 shutout against Minnesota to earn a share of Defensive honors.  The other half belonged to Penn State’s Navorro Bowman, who recorded 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a pass breakup in a victory at Michigan State.  Special Teams accolades went to Northwestern’s Stefan Demos as he was perfect on four field goals and three extra points to tally 15 points and help NU over the Badgers.  

[THREE // penn state volleyball wins big ten again!]
Congratulations to the top-ranked and undefeated Penn State volleyball squad as its clinched its 13th overall and seventh consecutive outright conference title with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 26-24) sweep of Indiana. With the victory, the Nittany Lions moved to 30-0 overall and 18-0 in league action, while extending their winning streak to 94 straight matches.  PSU closes out conference play next week by hosting Michigan State on Friday and Michigan on Saturday – a match which will air on the Big Ten Network on Sunday at 6 p.m.

[FOUR // indiana and northwestern soccer advanced to round of 16]
Earlier this week five Big Ten men’s soccer teams earned coveted bids to the NCAA Championship and at week’s end, two squads remain in the field.  Indiana, which earned its 23rd consecutive postseason bid and 34th overall, defeated Louisville 2-0 on Thursday and then upset Butler 1-0 in Bloomington on Sunday.  Northwestern eliminated Notre Dame 3-1 on Sunday after receiving a first-round bye.  In other Big Ten action, three conference squads saw their seasons come to a close Sunday. Big Ten Champion Ohio State battled Drake to a 0-0 stalemate in regulation but the Bulldogs ultimately prevailed 1-0 in the extra stanza.  Meanwhile, Michigan State and Penn State dropped 2-1 decisions to Duke and Maryland, respectively, in second-round action.

[FIVE // spartans’ izzo reaches milestone on the hardwood]
Congratulations to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, who earned his 340th victory at Michigan State following a 90-60 win over Valparaiso on Sunday.  The milestone win proved extra special for Izzo as his mark tied the record of Jud Heathcote, whom Izzo replaced in 1995.  Michigan State claimed its 43rd straight home game against nonconference opponents, while Izzo improved to 340-137 in his 15-year career at the helm of the Spartans.

[SIX // jud and johnson joining the hall of fame]
Perhaps it was fitting Tom Izzo tied Jud Heathcote’s school-record career wins mark Sunday afternoon because his mentor and MSU legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson were inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday night in Kansas City.  As mentioned, Heathcote captured 340 wins at MSU over a 19-year span, winning three Big Ten Championships and the 1979 NCAA title.  Johnson played on that championship ballclub, playing two years in East Lansing and leading his Spartan squad to the ultimate prize as a sophomore.  Johnson was a consensus First-Team All-American that year and earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the Final Four.

[SEVEN // osu women earn preseason wnit championship]
In addition to the Ohio State football team claiming a championship this weekend, the Buckeyes’ women’s basketball team also took home a title, defeating Oklahoma State 93-73 Sunday to win the Preseason WNIT crown.  Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender scored 26 points, while Brittany Johnson had a career-high 23 and Samantha Prahalis added 22 and nine assists in the win.  Johnson stormed out of the gates early on, netting 17 of the Buckeyes’ first 20 points.  With the victory, Ohio State set a WNIT scoring record over the four games with 367 points, besting the previous mark set of 347 by UConn in 2001.  Lavender and Prahalis were named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team, sharing MVP honors as well.

[EIGHT // women’s gymnastics teams among nation’s best]
Six Big Ten women’s gymnastics squads learned this past Monday that they will begin the 2009-2010 season ranked in the nation’s top 25.  Leading all conference teams in the GymInfo Preseason Poll is Penn State at 11th, followed by Michigan (12th), Illinois (13th), Ohio State (18th), Minnesota (22nd) and Michigan State (24th).  Iowa sits outside of the top-25 in 29th. 

[NINE // remembering red…]
The Big Ten Network will once again show off its original programming as this Thanksgiving they will broadcast a tribute to Illinois legend Harold “Red” Grange. The "Galloping Ghost" scored six touchdowns in a victory over Michigan in the Memorial Stadium Dedication Game in 1924 and is largely responsible for the emergence of the National Football League as a legitimate pastime in this country.  "Larger Than Life: The Red Grange Story" is a 60-minute program that debuts on the network this Thursday.

[TEN // the loss of a lion]
This past week the Penn State family mourned the loss of former athletics director Ed Czekaj, who died Monday at the age of 87. Czekaj served as the head of Penn State athletics from 1969-80 and was instrumental in providing women opportunity in athletics years before Title IX.  He also oversaw four expansions to Beaver Stadium, raising the capacity from 46,3284 to 83,770.

[ELEVEN // big monday is coming]
And finally, we bring an end to the week by looking at the start to the next.  On Monday, the Big Ten Network will present the exclusive, live announcement of the annual Big Ten football awards during Big Ten Tonight: All-Conference Selection Special at 8 p.m. ET. The show will reveal the All-Big Ten teams as selected by both the coaches and the media.  Coaches will select a Big Ten Offensive Player, Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year.  Media will also honor the Dave McClain Coach of the Year while the coaches will pick an Offensive and Defensive Lineman of the Year.  In addition, 11 Big Ten men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing in Terre Haute, Ind., Monday for the NCAA Championship. Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin will compete on the men's side and Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State will race on women's side.  The conference will send four individuals to the national meet in Indiana's Andrew Poore, Penn State's Vince McNally, Purdue's Caden Shields and Wisconsin's Caitlin Comfort.