This Week in the Big Ten

Dec. 12, 2010

[ONE // michigan soccer concludes season at ncaa college cup]
Congratulations to the 10th-seeded Michigan soccer team on an impressive 17-5-3 season that saw the Wolverines advance to the NCAA College Cup.  The Maize and Blue dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 3 seed Akron on Friday night in the national semifinal, but shocked the eventual national champion by opening the scoring with a goal in the second minute of the match off the foot of Justin Meram. Akron then tied the match in the 33rd minute, took the lead in the 74th minute, and hung on to capture the win.

[TWO // penn state volleyball advances to national semifinal]
Congratulations to the fourth-seeded Penn State volleyball team, which advanced to its fourth-straight national semifinal after a 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17) win over the 12th-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the University Park Regional final. The three-time defending champion Nittany Lions were paced by freshman Deja McClendon’s 20 kills, supported by Blair Brown’s 16 kills and Arielle Wilson’s 12 spikes. Defensively, Penn State held Duke to just .135 hitting and finished with 31 blocks to send the Nittany Lions to the national semifinals.  In other NCAA Championship action, Purdue fell to Texas 3-1 in the regional final after shocking top-seeded Florida in three sets on Friday.  Four other Big Ten teams fell in the Round of 16, including Illinois (3-2 to Texas), Indiana (3-0 to Southern California), Minnesota (3-0 to California) and Ohio State (3-1 to Stanford).

[THREE // big ten volleyball earns postseason regional honors]
Thirteen Big Ten volleyball standouts were named to the 14-member AVCA All-Mideast Region team, it was announced by the association on Tuesday. The 14-member squad includes one four-time selection in Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman, a pair of three-time honorees in Penn State's Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson and two-times members Ashley Benson of Indiana and Sabel Moffett of Northwestern. Penn State's Deja McClendon was named Mideast Region Freshman of the Year, while Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose was named Mideast Region Coach of the Year.  Other All-Mideast Region team members include Illinois' Michelle Bartsch, Hillary Haen and Colleen Ward, Michigan's Alex Hunt, Minnesota's Jessica Granquist, Northwestern's Naomi Johnson, Penn State's McClendon and Purdue's Jaclyn Hart.  Click here for the complete list of All-Region honorees.

[FOUR // gophers and hoosiers welcome new football coaches]
This past week the Big Ten welcomed two new football coaches to the conference.  Late last Sunday, Minnesota hired Jerry Kill to lead the Golden Gophers.  Kill, who signed a five-year deal, comes to Minnesota after spending the last three seasons on the sidelines at Northern Illinois. Kill led the Huskies to three consecutive bowl games during his tenure and coached NIU to a berth the Mid-American Conference Championship game this season. Kill put together a 23-16 record in his three seasons with the Huskies.  On Tuesday, Indiana hired Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to a seven-year deal as the Hoosiers’ new head coach.  Wilson just completed his ninth successful regular season at Oklahoma, helping Bob Stoops lead the Sooners to victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma played in a major bowl game in each of the nine seasons during Wilson's tenure. He led three of the most productive offenses in college football history in 2003, 2007 and 2008.

[FIVE // several conference football standouts earning postseason hardware]
Each year between the end of the regular season and bowl season, Big Ten football has become accustomed to bringing in several national awards on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.  This year two Wisconsin Badgers earned national accolades on Thursday as quarterback Scott Tolzien captured the Unitas Golden Arm Award and left tackle Gabe Carimi took home the Outland Trophy.  The Chicago Tribune announced this past week that Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson earned the coveted Silver Football, signifying the conference’s Most Valuable Player.  Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald received two honors this past week, becoming a finalist for the Joe Paterno Award and learning his Wildcats took home their sixth AFCA Academic Achievement Award.  In addition, former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry and Purdue's Leroy Keyes were named as inductees to the 2010 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame class.

[SIX // gridiron stars named all-americans]
Eight Big Ten football players were named Thursday to the 2010 Walter Camp All-America first or second team. First-team selections were Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi. Second-team honorees were Ohio State defensive back Chimdi Chekwa, Penn State offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski and the Wisconsin due of tight end Lance Kendricks and defensive end J.J. Watt. Clayborn, Jones, Wisniewski, Kerrigan, Carimi and Kendricks were previously named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America teams.  In addition, the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC accounted for 18 of the 25 players when the 67th Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America Team was announced Saturday. The Big Ten placed six standouts on the FWAA offense and defense, including Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (as one of two "backs"), Michigan State’s Jones, the Ohio State duo of Chekwa and center Mike Brewster, Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin’s Carimi. The Buckeyes were one of five teams to place two players on the team, while Jones was one of two repeat selections from last season's FWAA All-America team.

[SEVEN // flipping over television coverage]
The Big Ten Network announced this week the broadcast schedule for both the 2011 men’s and women’s gymnastics seasons.  On the men’s side, coverage begins on Jan. 29 with a meet between Iowa and Illinois and concludes with a live broadcast of the 2011 Big Ten Championships on April 1-2. Every Big Ten team will be featured at least once during the season, with all six conference squads receiving extensive coverage at the Big Ten Championships to close out the season.  For the women, five meets and the 2011 Big Ten Championships highlight the schedule, which features four live broadcasts.  All seven conference teams will be featured in at least one meet during the season.

[EIGHT // on your mark, get set, go…]
It’s hard to believe, but the 2011-12 indoor track and field season has officially begun. Ohio State competed Friday and Saturday at the Kent State Early Bird Meet, and experienced a good deal of success.  Highlighting the weekend was a victory by freshman Cody Marshall in the pole vault after registering a personal record mark of 4.90m (16-0.75).  The remaining Big Ten teams will open their indoor seasons on Jan. 8. For a complete look at the upcoming schedule, click here.

[NINE // soccer standouts still claiming honors]
Sixteen Big Ten women's soccer players earned NSCAA/Performance Subaru NCAA Division I All-Great Lakes Region status, as announced earlier this week. Six players received first-team honors while five appeared on the second team and five took home third-team laurels.  Among the first-team All-Great Lakes Region honorees were Illinois midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, Michigan State forward Laura Heyboer, Minnesota defender Kylie Kallman, Ohio State defender Cassie Dickerson and forward Paige Maxwell and Penn State midfielder Christine Nairn.  Here is a complete look at the All-Region honors.  In addition, Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield was named the 2010 NSCAA/Mondo Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year on Wednesday. Rayfield guided the Illini to a 13-5-1 overall record and a 6-3-1 mark in Big Ten play en route to the team's seventh NCAA Championship appearance in the past eight seasons. Illinois closed out the regular season ranked No. 13 in the NSCAA/ national poll.

[TEN // field hockey mentors honored regionally]
Congratulations to Penn State head coach Charlene Morett and Ohio State's Anne Wilkinson on being named the 2010 Dita/NFHCA Mideast and West Region Coaches of the Year, respectively, by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association on Wednesday.  Morett led the Nittany Lions to a 14-6 overall record and a 4-2 record in the Big Ten, while Wilkinson guided Ohio State to a successful 2010 season, including a 18-5 overall record and setting a school record for most wins in a single season. The Buckeyes finished 5-1 in the Big Ten, won their third Big Ten regular season title, and advanced to their first NCAA Women’s College Cup appearance in school history.

[ELEVEN // the big chill is a big win for michigan hockey]
Finally this week, in front of a world record crowd for an ice hockey game, No. 12 Michigan topped Michigan State 5-0 on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.  In what was dubbed The Big Chill at the Big House presented by Arby's, 113,411 fans packed the Wolverines’ football stadium on a blistery day in Ann Arbor to watch the two Big Ten powerhouses play outdoors.  The Big Ten Network televised the historic game live and provided extensive pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage as well.