This Week in the Big Ten

Dec. 26, 2010

[ONE // let’s go bowling]
This past week posted game previews for all eight bowl contests in which Big Ten football teams will be competing over the next week.  Iowa opens up the Big Ten bowl season with an Insight Bowl matchup against No. 21 Missouri on Tuesday, Dec. 28.  On Wednesday, Illinois faces Baylor in the Texas Bowl, while Northwestern opens up a slew of conference contests on New Year’s Day with a noon ET meeting with Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl.  At 1 p.m. ET, Penn State takes on Florida in the Outback Bowl, while by No. 9 Michigan State and No. 16 Alabama battle in the Capital One Bowl at the same time.  A half-hour later, Michigan faces off against No. 21 Mississippi State in the Progressive Gator Bowl at 1:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 3 TCU in the Rose Bowl Game at 4:30 p.m. ET.  In the final Big Ten bowl contest, No. 6 Ohio State squares off against No. 8 Arkansas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET.

[TWO // stories from the granddaddy of them all]
While Big Ten football teams will be competing in eight bowl contests this season, the one bowl contest that is near and dear to the conference is the Rose Bowl Game.  In honor of the tremendous relationship the Big Ten has had with the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten Network announced this week that it will air five Rose Bowl-related shows, beginning on Dec. 30.  Not only will the BTN focus on the Wisconsin vs. TCU matchup, but it will also touch on some of the past classics as well as Big Ten legends that have played in the New Year’s Day game.  The BTN will first air the Rose Bowl Media Day Show at 10:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 30, followed by the Rose Bowl Game Preview Show at 6:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 31 as well as the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Ceremonies at 7 p.m. ET.    On New Year’s Day, the BTN will broadcast the Big Ten Bowl Pre-Game Special at 11 a.m. ET and then recap the 2011 contest with the Big Ten Bowl Post-Game Special at 8:30 p.m. ET.

[THREE // from east to the west]
Six Big Ten football players were named this week to the East-West Shrine Game, which will be played Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at 4 p.m. ET at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.  Congratulations to Iowa’s Karl Klug (DE) and Shiloh Keo (SS), Michigan State’s Charles Gantt (TE) and Eric Gordon (SS), Penn State’s Evan Royster (RB) and Purdue’s Kyle Adams (TE) on their selections.  Football greats, such as John Elway, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and 62 NFL Hall of Famers have played in the East-West Shrine Game, America's longest-running college all-star football game. While the teams are divided by East and West, the players come together for the beneficiary of the event, Shriners Hospitals for Children®, an international pediatric specialty health care system of 22 hospitals.

[FOUR // penn state’s joepa turns 84, honored by ncaa]
Congratulations to Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno, who not only turned 84 years young on Tuesday, but was named the winner of the 2011 NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award on Wednesday.  NCAA President Mark Emmert will present the award to Paterno on Jan. 13, 2011, at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio.  Paterno, who holds the record for most Football Bowl Subdivision wins with 401, has coached the Nittany Lions since 1966.  He was among the first three active coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and has coached more bowl games (36) and has more postseason wins (24) than any coach in college football history.  He has two national championships (1982 and 1986) and seven of this teams earned undefeated regular seasons.

[FIVE // hawkeyes and spartans lead women’s basketball teams into conference play]
Heading into the Big Ten women’s basketball conference season, Iowa and Michigan State both own 12-1 records, which for the Spartans matches their best start in program history.  MSU has won 10 in a row, while Iowa finished off its pre-holiday schedule with a brutal stretch of three games in five days.  Northwestern finished its non-conference season undefeated at home and 11-2 overall.  Ohio State owns an 8-2 mark, while Penn State is 10-3, and Purdue is 8-3.  Closing out the conference standings is Minnesota (8-5), Michigan (7-5), Indiana (6-6), Illinois (5-7) and Wisconsin (5-7).  Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue will all conclude its non-conference slate this next week, with Big Ten play beginning on Thursday, Dec. 30.

[SIX // buckeyes lead the way into men’s basketball conference season]
With the 2010-11 Big Ten men’s basketball conference campaign just ahead of us, we sneak a peak at where all 11 teams stand heading into league action.  Ohio State earned a perfect 12-0 mark in non-conference play, its second-best opening mark under head coach Thad Matta, while both Minnesota and Purdue have 11-1 records.  Northwestern enters Big Ten play with a 9-1 mark overall, with Michigan and Wisconsin each owning 10-2 records.  Illinois is 10-3, followed by Indiana (9-4), Michigan State (8-4), Penn State (7-4) and Iowa (7-5).  Big Ten play begins Monday with Penn State traveling to Indiana for a 6:30 p.m. ET tip.

[SEVEN // straight to the point]
Five Big Ten players have been named candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes college basketball's top point guard, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Monday. The Big Ten's honorees include Illinois’ Demetri McCamey, Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, Penn State’s Talor Battle, Purdue’s Lewis Jackson, and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.

[EIGHT // more than half of conference ranked in final volleyball poll]
Six Big Ten volleyball teams were ranked in the top 25 of the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll of the 2010 season, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon, the most of any conference in the nation. On the heels of winning their fourth straight national championship, Penn State finished the season as the No. 1 team in the rankings, the fourth straight season the Nittany Lions have ended the season as the nation's top rated team.  Overall, eight conference teams were mentioned in the poll, with two receiving votes outside the top 25. Illinois and Minnesota rounded out the top 10 at Nos. 9 and 10, respectively, with Purdue following close behind at No. 11. Ohio State and Indiana both jumped into the top 25, with the Buckeyes appearing at No. 19 and Indiana checking in at No. 23. Michigan and Northwestern were among teams also receiving votes.

[NINE // brown looking to drive home with the honda award]
Penn State volleyball senior Blair Brown is one of four finalists for the Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top collegiate woman's athlete in her sport. Brown is the 10th Nittany Lion to be named a finalist and looks to become the third Penn State volleyball player in as many years to win the honor.  Brown joins Juliann Faucette of Texas, Alex Jupiter of Southern California and Carli Lloyd as finalists, with the winner becoming eligible for the Honda-Broderick Cup, given each year to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Last year, Megan Hodge was named co-winner of the award, becoming the first Nittany Lion to win the award.  For more information on Brown and Honda Sports Award, click here.

[TEN // midlands marks the midway point in wrestling season]
The 2010 Midlands Tournament Committee announced this past week the top contenders for the 48th annual event, which takes place at Northwestern on Dec. 29-30.  The Big Ten has the top-seeded wrestler in six of the 10 weight divisions, including Illinois’ Jimmy Kennedy (141), Iowa’s Matt McDonough (125) and Grant Gambrall (184), and Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff (133), Andrew Howe (165) and Trevor Brandvold (197).  The Hawkeyes are the defending team champion, having won the most team titles (21) in the 47 years of the meet.  Press releases, tournament brackets and tournament notes will be available throughout the week on the Northwestern website,

[ELEVEN // northwestern also focused on postseason wrestling]
Finally this week, while Northwestern has been preparing this week for the Midlands Wrestling Tournament, the school also announced its ticket information for the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, which the Wildcats will host in Welsh-Ryan Arena.  Tickets for the March 5-6 event are now on sale through the Northwestern ticket office. Fans can purchase tickets by calling the ticket office at 888-GO-PURPLE. Those who have already submitted their ticket request to will be contacted by a Northwestern account executive this week. Fans can also request seats within a specific school's designated seating areas.  All-session packages are $40 for reserved tickets, as well as $36 for adult general admission and $24 for youth general admission.