This Week in the Big Ten

Northwestern senior kicker Jeff Budzien was named All-America this past week and was one of 20 Big Ten student-athletes who maintained a perfect GPA in the fall to receive Academic All-Big Ten honors.

Dec. 15, 2013

[ONE // big ten volleyball making national news]
Two Big Ten women’s volleyball teams have advanced to the 2013 NCAA Championship national semifinals which will be hosted by the University of Washington Dec. 19-21 in Seattle, Wash. Penn State and Wisconsin will take part in the national semifinals, marking the second year in a row that two Big Ten teams have been among the last four standing.  The second-seeded Nittany Lions are headed to the NCAA national semifinals for the second consecutive season and sixth time in the last seven years after defeating seventh-seeded Stanford 3-2 on Saturday.  The Badgers are making their second appearance in the national semifinals after defeating Big Ten foe Purdue 3-1 in the regional final.  Nebraska was defeated by top-seeded Texas in the regional final.  In addition to the team success seen this past week, the Big Ten also boasted several headlines involving its student-athletes.  Penn State’s Katie Slay was named the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Thursday. Michigan State's Kristen Kelsay was also honored as an Academic All-America third-team selection.  Also, the Big Ten collected numerous AVCA Division I Regional Awards on Tuesday, with 31 players earning All-Region honors and two coaches tabbed Coach of the Year in their respective region. Big Ten student-athletes made up all 14 spots on the North Region team, while conference players took 12 of the 14 spots on the Northeast Region team and five were named honorable mention selections. Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon earned North Region Coach of the Year recognition, while Penn State's Russ Rose took home Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors. Freshmen Kadie Rolfzen of Nebraska and Lauren Carlini of Wisconsin were tabbed Freshman of the Year in the North and Northeast Regions, respectively. Nebraska and Penn State led the way with five honorees each, while Purdue had four. The complete list of Big Ten standouts that garnered All-Region recognition can be found by clicking here.

[TWO // silver football awarded to ohio state’s miller]
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was named this past Thursday the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, awarded annually since 1924 to the Big Ten's top player, to become just the fourth player in conference history to be honored twice. The Buckeyes junior averaged 263 yards of total offense per game and accounted for 32 total touchdowns while leading Ohio State to 12 wins, a second straight outright Leaders Division title, a berth in the Big Ten Football Championship Game and a spot in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. Miller was named the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year for the second consecutive season. The Silver Football was first awarded in 1924 to Illinois Hall of Famer Red Grange and has been given to the Big Ten's top player on an annual basis ever since. Only three other conference standouts have been honored twice - Minnesota halfback Paul Giel in 1952 and 1953, Ohio State halfback Archie Griffin in 1973 and 1974 and Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson in 1988 and 1989.

[THREE // seven football standouts named all-america]
Seven Big Ten football players earned All-America honors this week, including three first-team selections. A trio of Big Ten standouts was named to the Sporting News All-America team, including Michigan State defensive back Darqueze Dennard, Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien and Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. Dennard was also named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, while Budzien, Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, Michigan State defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun and the Ohio State duo of offensive lineman Jack Mewhort and linebacker Ryan Shazier were tabbed for second-team laurels.

[FOUR // football trio wins national awards]
Three Big Ten football standouts earned national awards this past week, including top defensive back, top walk-on, and top scholar-athlete.  Penn State standout John Urschel was named the recipient of the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's 56th annual celebration of college football. A two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Urschel is the first Penn State student-athlete to win the Campbell Trophy, which was first presented in 1990. The William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, is presented to the nation's premier college football Scholar-Athlete. A two-time first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American, Urschel will receive a total of $25,000 for post-graduate work.  Urschel is the first Big Ten student-athlete since 2003 to win the Campbell Trophy and the fifth overall from a current Big Ten institution.  Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard was named the winner of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, as announced on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night.  Dennard is the first Spartan and sixth Big Ten standout to win the award, which has been awarded annually since 1986 to the nation's best defensive back.  Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis was named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation's most outstanding player that began his career as a walk-on in a ceremony in Springdale, Ark.  He is the second straight Big Ten standout to claim the Burlsworth Trophy, after Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was honored last season.

[FIVE // leading the way on the field]
Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's Bill O'Brien were named this past week as three of the 10 finalists for the 2013 Liberty Mutual Football Coach of the Year. Dantonio was named the Big Ten Hayes-Schembechler and Dave McClain Coach of the Year and led the Spartans to their first outright Big Ten Championship and first Rose Bowl Game berth since the 1987 season and second outright Legends Division title in the last three years. Meyer guided the Buckeyes to a school-record 24-game winning streak to start his tenure in Columbus, a second straight outright Leaders Division title and a berth in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. O'Brien wrapped up his second campaign with the Nittany Lions with a road victory at nationally ranked Wisconsin to end the season at 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference, good for third in the Leaders Division. In addition, The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), in conjunction with the Fiesta Bowl, announced that Michigan State's  Dantonio has been named one of eight finalists for the 2013 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award whose winner will be revealed on Dec. 16.  Dantonio was an Eddie Robinson Award finalist in 2010. Twelve coaches from current Big Ten institutions have claimed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, most recently when Ohio State's Jim Tressel was honored in 2002.

[SIX // six soccer stars tabbed nscaa all-america; three top the class]
Six Big Ten soccer standouts earned All-America status this past week by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.  Four women’s stars received the acclaim as Michigan's Nkem Ezurike was a first-team selection, while Nebraska's Ari Romero, Michigan's Meghan Toohey and Penn State's Maya Hayes were second-team All-Americans.  On the men’s side, Wisconsin's AJ Cochran earned a first-team nod, while Michigan State's Kevin Cope was named to the second team.  The men’s Senior CLASS Award All-America Teams were also announced Friday, with three Big Ten student-athletes earning second-team honors, including Indiana’s A.J. Corrado, Michigan State’s Cope and Northwestern’s Chris Ritter.  In addition, 13 Big Ten players were named Wednesday to the NCAA Division I Men's All-Great Lakes Region team, including six on the first team.

[SEVEN // basketball boasts three top-five teams; undefeated hoosier women]
Big Ten men’s basketball action opened this week with five teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25, including three in the top five in No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Michigan State.  The league went on to post an 11-6 record on the week, which included wins by the three top-five teams and three near misses against ranked opponents as Michigan fell 72-70 to top-ranked Arizona, Illinois dropped a 71-64 decision to No. 15/11 Oregon, and No. 23/22 Iowa lost 85-82 to No. 17/16 Iowa State.  Wisconsin (12-0) and Ohio State (10-0) remained undefeated on the season.  In women’s action, Indiana captured a win on Sunday to stay perfect on the year at 11-0 – the lone unbeaten team in the league.  The Hoosiers, however, have yet to crack the nation’s top 25 poll.  Four Big Ten teams appear among the top 25 of the latest national rankings, according to the AP and the USA Today Coaches polls. In the latest AP vote, Penn State paces all conference teams at No. 12, with Purdue and Nebraska appearing at Nos. 18 and 19, respectively. Iowa jumps four spots to No. 21 this week, with Michigan State also receiving votes from the media. In the coaches rankings, the Lady Lions are ranked 12th, followed by Nebraska at No. 16, Purdue is ranked 23rd and Iowa appears at No. 24.

[EIGHT // on the ice]
Big Ten hockey action continued this past week with Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin in action.  Earlier in the week, Minnesota, which is idle until after the New Year, garnered the No. 1 spot in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll for the eighth consecutive week after taking four of six points during a conference series at Michigan State.  Michigan was ranked No. 3 for the third straight week, while Wisconsin was 15th.  On Wednesday, the Wolverines tied No. 4 Ferris State 2-2 in their lone contest of the week.  The Badgers were the only Big Ten team on the ice Friday, besting Colorado College 4-1.  UW returned to defeat Colorado College 4-3 in overtime on Saturday, while Michigan State fell 2-0 to Ferris State. 

[NINE // wolverine women picked in big ten preseason poll; six ranked nationally]
The Michigan Wolverines were named the 2014 preseason favorites in the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced on Thursday. Defending Big Ten Champion Nebraska was ranked No. 2 in the poll, followed by No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Illinois. Michigan State and Iowa rounded out the preseason poll at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.  The Big Ten also announced the Gymnasts to Watch List, with featured 18 gymnasts, including eight returning All-Big Ten student-athletes.  Additionally, six Big Ten squads appeared in the 2014 GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll released on Thursday. Michigan checked in at No. 7, followed by No. 10 Nebraska, No. 14 Minnesota and No. 15 Penn State. Illinois and Ohio State rounded out the Big Ten's representation in the preseason poll at No. 16 and No. 19, respectively. For the complete preseason poll, click here.

[TEN // michigan men earn top billing in conference poll; all seven ranked by gyminfo]
Reigning NCAA and Big Ten Champion Michigan earned the top billing in the 2014 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Preseason Coaches' Poll, the conference office announced on Thursday. The Wolverines, who have captured 16 Big Ten titles, were followed by No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Illinois, No. 4 Penn State and No. 5 Minnesota. Iowa and Nebraska were ranked sixth and seventh in the preseason poll, respectively.  The Big Ten also announced the Gymnasts to Watch List, which featured 14 student-athletes, including three All-Big Ten honorees returning for the 2014 campaign.  In addition, all seven teams are ranked in the 2014 GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released on Thursday. Michigan topped the poll after winning the national title last season, followed by No. 4 Ohio State. Penn State and Illinois enter the season tied at No. 5, followed by No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 Minnesota and No. 10 Nebraska. For the complete preseason poll, click here.

[ELEVEN // nearly 900 fall student-athletes recognized for success in the classroom]
The Big Ten on Wednesday recognized a total of 869 fall sports student-athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference team. The list of honored student-athletes features 74 field hockey players, 271 football players, 75 men’s and 140 women’s cross country runners, 81 men’s and 153 women’s soccer players and 75 volleyball players. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.  At least 20 of these student-athletes have maintained unblemished cumulative GPAs.  For a breakdown of those 20 honorees and a complete list of all the Academic All-Conference selections, click here.

[TWELVE // to serve and protect]
Finally this week, featured prominent Detroit writer Angelique S. Chengelis’ piece on former Michigan football player Jon Runyan, who last year was named the Big Ten's Ford-Kinnick Leadership award for his leadership and success after college.  A former offensive lineman in Ann Arbor, Runyan enjoyed a 13-year NFL career before opting for a career in politics.  Runyan is currently in his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey, one of only a few former NFL players elected to Congress.  For more on Runyan’s story, click here.