Jan. 11, 2006
BIG TEN BOWL WRAPUP
A Pair of BCS Wins: The Big Ten produced a perfect 2-0 record in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games for the third time in the system's eight years after Penn State knocked off Florida State in the Orange Bowl and Ohio State defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The conference also boasted two BCS victories in 1999 (Wisconsin in Rose, Ohio State in Sugar) and 2000 (Wisconsin in Rose, Michigan in Sugar). The Big Ten is the only conference to rack up multiple BCS wins in three different years. The only other leagues to win two BCS games in a single season are the SEC (1999, 2002) and Pac-10 (2001).
BCS Success: The Big Ten leads all conferences with eight BCS victories and 13 berths overall since the system was created for the 1998-99 season. The SEC ranks second to the Big Ten with seven BCS triumphs and 11 appearances while the Big 12 has also played in 11 BCS games. The complete breakdown of BCS records by conference appears to the right. Ohio State is a perfect 4-0 in BCS games, the most wins of any team in the country, while Wisconsin is one of only three programs (along with LSU and Texas) to boast a 2-0 mark in the BCS.
Three More Bowl Wins: With a record of 3-4 during the 2005-06 bowl campaign, the Big Ten has now recorded three or more bowl wins in four straight seasons for the first time in conference history. The Big Ten was an impressive 5-2 in 2002 followed by three victories in both 2003 (3-5) and 2004 (3-3). The league's 14 bowl wins over a four-year period is tied for second all-time behind the conference's 16 postseason triumphs during the 1996 (4-3), 1997 (2-5), 1998 (5-0) and 1999 (5-2) bowl campaigns.
Conference Call: The Big Ten's total of three bowl wins this season was tied for third among all conferences behind only the ACC and Big 12, which both recorded 5-3 marks.
Bowl Coaching Greats: Two different Big Ten coaches currently appear atop the NCAA charts for bowl victories, appearances and winning percentage for a career. Penn State's Joe Paterno improved his bowl record to 21-10-1 to stand atop the career postseason victory chart, now two triumphs ahead of Florida State's Bobby Bowden (19-9-1), who lost to the Nittany Lions in the Orange Bowl. Paterno also tops all coaches with 32 bowl appearances in his career. Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez improved to 8-3 in bowl games for a winning percentage of .727, the highest in NCAA history. The NCAA's list of winningest bowl coaches includes only mentors with 11 or more bowl games and Alvarez is now followed by Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd (9-4, .692), Bowden (.672) and Paterno (.672).
Bowl Winners: The Big Ten's 3-4 bowl record this season included victories in the Capital One, Fiesta and Orange Bowls. Wisconsin sent head coach Barry Alvarez off with a victory in his final game with the Badgers after posting a convincing win over Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. Ohio State has now won four straight bowl games for the second time in school history after defeating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes' only other four-game bowl winning streak occurred over two decades with Rose Bowl titles in 1949, 1954, 1957 and 1968. In its first BCS appearance, Penn State edged Florida State in triple overtime in the Orange Bowl with Joe Paterno building on his NCAA record with a 21st bowl triumph.
Close Calls: The Big Ten's four bowl defeats this season came by a combined 26 points, with three of the four losses decided by a touchdown or less. Michigan was edged by Nebraska, 32-28, in the Alamo Bowl with the Cornhuskers scoring the winning touchdown with less than five minutes remaining and the Wolverines final drive stalling after an eight-lateral play ended just 13 yards from the endzone. The Music City Bowl was decided by only three points with Virginia taking a 34-31 lead on a field goal with 1:08 on the clock before Minnesota's last drive resulted in an interception in the endzone. Northwestern twice cut the deficit to only five points in the final three minutes against UCLA in the Sun Bowl only to see the Bruins' return a pair of onside kicks for touchdowns after each score, the last occurring with 18 seconds on the clock to seal a 50-38 defeat. Iowa rallied from a 24-point deficit against Florida in the Outback Bowl to pull within 31-24 with 1:24 on the clock before the Gators recovered the onside kick.
Bowl Attendance: Four of the Big Ten's seven bowl games drew sellout crowds while the Fiesta Bowl attracted its largest attendance ever for a non-championship game. The conference's seven postseason games attracted 372,811 patrons for an average of 53,259 per contest, including full houses for the Sun, Outback, Fiesta and Orange Bowls.
Working Overtime: Penn State took part in the longest bowl game in Big Ten history when the Nittany Lions defeated Florida State in triple overtime in the 2006 Orange Bowl. The last conference bowl game to need an extra session was the 2004 Capital One Bowl, where Georgia edged Purdue, 34-27. The only other league team to play more than one extra session in a postseason game is Ohio State, as the Buckeyes defeated Miami (Fla.), 31-24, in double overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to clinch the national title. In eight years of the BCS, only three games have needed extra time and the Big Ten has been a part of all three contests -- the two games mentioned above and the 2000 Orange Bowl with Michigan edging Alabama, 35-34, in overtime.
Seven Teams Go Bowling: The Big Ten's seven bowl berths in 2005 matched the second-highest total in conference annals, trailing only the league record of eight bowl participants established following the 2003 campaign. The Big Ten also qualified seven schools for postseason play after the 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2002 seasons. The conference sent six or more teams to bowl games for the seventh straight year and 14th time overall. League programs have now made 66 bowl appearances over the last decade (1996-2005) and 219 appearances all-time.
Big Ten BCS Duos: In Ohio State and Penn State, the Big Ten sent a pair of teams to BCS games for the fifth time in the system's eight years. Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has qualified 13 teams for BCS bowls, more than any other conference. The league also sent a pair of squads to BCS games after the following seasons - 1998 (Ohio State, Wisconsin), 1999 (Michigan, Wisconsin), 2002 (Iowa, Ohio State) and 2003 (Michigan, Ohio State).
Winningest Programs Square Off: Four of the top five winningest programs in NCAA history faced off in Big Ten bowl games with Michigan battling Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl and Ohio State challenging Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. With bowl play concluded, the Wolverines currently rank first in college football annals with 849 victories, followed by the Fighting Irish (second with 811 wins), Cornhuskers (fourth with 794) and Buckeyes (T-fifth with 774). In addition, Penn State ranks seventh with 771 wins all-time.
Bowl Veterans: The Big Ten boasts three of the 11 programs with 37 or more bowl appearances in Penn State (8th with 38), Michigan (T9th with 37) and Ohio State (T9th with 37). The Nittany Lions are tied for third all-time with 24 bowl triumphs while the Wolverines and Buckeyes are tied for 12th with 18 wins.
Bowl Streaks: Michigan's current streak of 31 consecutive bowls is the longest active streak in the nation. Meanwhile, Iowa is one of only four schools to play a January bowl game in each of the last four seasons along with USC, Georgia and Florida State.
BIG TEN BOWL TOP PERFORMERS
IOWA QB Drew Tate: Completed 32-of-55 passes for 346 yards and three TDs against Florida in the Outback Bowl, including two scoring strikes to wideout Ed Hinkel in the fourth quarter as Iowa rallied within a TD after trailing 31-7.
MICH QB Chad Henne: Completed 21-of-43 passes for 270 yards and three TDs and added a scoring run in Alamo Bowl against Nebraska.
MINN QB Bryan Cupito: Established career best with four TD passes against Virginia in the Music City Bowl, completing 18-of-28 passes for 263 yards.
MINN WR Ernie Wheelwright: Hauled in seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Cavaliers.
NU QB Brett Basanez: Set Sun Bowl record with 448 yards of total offense, including connecting on 38-of-70 passes for 416 yards and two TDs vs. UCLA, rallying the Wildcats within five points twice in the last three minutes.
OSU WR Ted Ginn, Jr.: Career-high 167 receiving yards with a TD on eight receptions while adding a 68-yard scoring run in the Fiesta Bowl.
OSU QB Troy Smith: Named Offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl after setting a career high with 342 passing yards, completing 19-of-28 passes with two TDs and adding 66 yards on the ground in the victory over Notre Dame.
PSU QB Michael Robinson: Completed 21-of-39 passes for 253 yards and a TD while adding 21 rushing yards in victory over Florida State in Orange Bowl.
PSU RB Austin Scott: Stepped in after starter Tony Hunt injured an ankle and ran for a season-high 110 yards on 26 carries (4.2 avg.) with two touchdowns in Orange Bowl triumph over Florida State.
WIS RB Brian Calhoun: Named MVP of the Capital One Bowl after racking up 213 yards on 30 carries (7.1 avg.) with a touchdown in a win over Auburn.
WIS WR Brandon Williams: Set career-high and UW bowl record with 173 receiving yards on six receptions (28.8 avg.) with a touchdown vs. Auburn.
IOWA LB Abdul Hodge: Established an Outback Bowl record with 19 tackles, including 14 solo stops, with a TFL against Florida.
MICH CB Leon Hall: Named Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP after picking off two passes and adding four tackles against Nebraska.
MINN LB John Shevlin: Tied for team lead with 10 tackles (eight solo) and produced two TFLs, a sack and a fumble recovery against Virginia.
NU LB Tim McGarigle: Collected a game-high 17 tackles, including nine solo stops and a half of a TFL, against UCLA.
NU DE Kevin Mims and LB Nick Roach: Both returned an interception for a TD in the first quarter as NU set a Sun Bowl record with 22 first quarter points.
OSU LB A.J. Hawk: Named Defensive MVP of Fiesta Bowl after recording a game-high 12 tackles (nine solo), including 3.5 TFLs and two sacks.
OSU DE Mike Kudla: Set career high with three sacks against Notre Dame, part of a seven-tackle performance in the Fiesta Bowl.
PSU DT Jay Alford: Collected 2.5 TFLs, including 1.5 sacks, and forced a fumble against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
PSU LB Dan Connor: Posted a team-best seven tackles, including two TFLs, to lead a PSU defense that limited FSU's offense to one TD in regulation.
WIS LB Mark Zalewski: Recorded eight defensive stops and two TFLs, including an eight-yard sack, to help UW hold Auburn to a season-low 10 points and 236 yards of total offense.
IOWA KR Damian Sims: Returned five kickoffs for 107 yards vs. Florida.
MICH KR/PR Steve Breaston: Produced 224 all-purpose yards, setting an Alamo Bowl record with 146 kickoff return yards and adding 72 punt return yards.
PSU P Jeremy Kapinos: Punted a career-high 11 times for 487 yards (44.3 avg.) with a long of 54 and three inside the 20 against Florida State.
WIS P Ken DeBauche: Averaged 45.3 yards on three punts against Auburn, including a 58-yard boot and one kick placed inside the 20-yard line.
2005 SEASON IN REVIEW
Big Ten Standouts Claim National Honors: Big Ten student-athletes collected five national awards this season, the highest total since league standouts took home seven national accolades following the 2002 campaign. A pair of Big Ten standouts each claimed two national trophies in Minnesota center Greg Eslinger (Outland and Rimington Trophies) and Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny (Bednarik and Butkus Awards) in addition to one national accolade for Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk (Lombardi Award). The last Big Ten student-athlete to pick up multiple national awards was Nittany Lions' running back Larry Johnson, who earned the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards in 2002.
Eslinger became the first player to win both the Outland Trophy, which honors the nation's outstanding interior lineman, and the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the country's top center, in the same season. The Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year is the 11th conference player to collect the Outland Trophy and the first since Iowa's Robert Gallery was honored in 2003. Eslinger is the second straight league center to be awarded the Rimington Trophy and the third Big Ten honoree in the six-year history of the award, joining 2004 co-winner David Baas of Michigan and 2001 winner LeCharles Bentley of Ohio State.
Posluszny is the second player in Big Ten annals to claim both the Bednarik Award, honoring the country's outstanding defensive player, and Butkus Award, awarded to the top linebacker, in the same season. The junior linebacker joins fellow Nittany Lion LaVar Arrington, who was the league's most recent winner of both awards in 1999. The Big Ten has now collected the Bednarik Award on five occasions in the award's 11-year history. Conference student-athletes have earned the Butkus Award on seven occasions.
Hawk became the fifth Buckeye to collect the Rotary Lombardi Award, honoring the nation's top college lineman or linebacker, and the first since offensive tackle Orlando Pace became the first player to win back-to-back awards in 1995 and 1996. The Big Ten has now claimed the Lombardi Award on seven occasions with six of those trophies headed to Ohio State.
National Coach of the Year: Penn State's Joe Paterno has picked up multiple national honors following the 2005 campaign, including being named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Associated Press, Bobby Dodd, Home Depot, Munger and The Sporting News National Coach of the Year. In his 40th season as head coach, the PSU mentor led the Nittany Lions to an 11-1 record, a share of the Big Ten Championship and an Orange Bowl victory over Florida State. Paterno is second in all-time victories among major college coaches and fourth in wins across all four NCAA divisions with a 354-117-3 career record. He has now won an unprecedented five AFCA National Coach of the Year awards and was also honored in 1968, 1978, 1982 and 1986. The only other major college coaches to earn AFCA Coach of the Year more than once are Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant (on three occasions) and USC's John McKay and Texas' Darrell Royal (on two occasions each). The last Big Ten coach to be named the AFCA National Coach of the Year was Ohio State's Jim Tressel in 2002.
Farewell to a Legend: Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez concluded a 16-year career as the Badgers' head coach with a victory over Auburn in the school's first trip to the Capital One Bowl. He ends his time on the sidelines with a record of 118-73-4 and his 118 career wins rank eighth on the all-time victory list for conference coaches. Alvarez took UW to 11 bowl games in his 16 years and boasts an 8-3 record, including three Rose Bowl victories. He will remain in his position as Wisconsin's Director of Athletics, while current defensive coordinator Bret Bielema will take over the head coaching duties next season.
Smart Players: The Big Ten topped all conferences with eight members of the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Football Team, an increase of two over the league's six honorees from last season. The Big Ten's eight Academic All-Americans include three first-team selections in Indiana's Will Meyers, Iowa's Mike Elgin and Penn State's Paul Posluszny. The league's five second-team choices are Michigan's Jason Avant, the Michigan State duo of Chris Morris and Drew Stanton and the Minnesota pair of Greg Eslinger and Mark Losli. Eslinger was one of only six student-athletes to repeat as Academic All-Americans after being honored as a second-team selection in 2004. To be eligible for Academic All-America honors, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.20 on a scale of 4.00 and have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his current institution.
Everybody's All-American: Four Big Ten standouts were named consensus All-Americans in Minnesota's Eslinger, Ohio State's Hawk and the Penn State duo of Tamba Hali and Posluszny. The Big Ten and the SEC tied for third among all leagues with four consensus picks, trailing only the Pac-10 (7) and Big 12 (5). The Nittany Lions were one of only five schools with multiple consensus All-Americans along with Georgia, Texas, UCLA and USC. In addition to the four consensus selections, 11 other Big Ten players earned All-America accolades from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News or Walter Camp Football Foundation. Those honorees include Iowa's Chad Greenway, Minnesota's Laurence Maroney and Mark Setterstrom, Northwestern's Zach Strief, Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter and Nick Mangold, Penn State's Levi Brown and Alan Zemaitis and Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun, Joe Thomas and Brandon Williams.
Double-Digit Wins: For the third time in four years and just the eighth time in conference history, three Big Ten teams ended the season with double-digit wins in Penn State (11-1), Ohio State (10-2) and Wisconsin (10-3). The league produced at least three teams with 10 or more wins in both 2003 (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State) and 2002 (Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State) while also accomplishing the feat with four programs in 1999 and three schools in 1998, 1993, 1903 and 1902. Over the previous decade (1996-2005), 23 conference teams have posted 10 or more wins and nine squads have racked up 11 or more victories. Penn State produced its first 11-win season since 1996 and 13th year of 11 or more victories under Paterno. Ohio State hit double-digits for the third time in the last four years and the 15th time in school annals. Wisconsin hit the 10-win mark for the first time since 1999 and just the fourth time in program history.
Ohio State and Penn State Share Big Ten Title: In the final weekend of conference action, Ohio State and Penn State secured a share of the 2005 Big Ten Championship by taking care of business on the road. The Buckeyes were the first team to hit the field as they met Michigan in Ann Arbor for the 102nd meeting in the all-time series. The Wolverines built a 21-12 advantage with less than eight minutes remaining before OSU rallied for the win, with Antonio Pittman scoring on a three-yard run with only 24 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 25-21 victory and a share of the crown. The Nittany Lions then took the field in East Lansing and built a 17-0 halftime lead over the Spartans before holding on for the 31-22 triumph to split the conference title.
Buckeyes Win 30th Big Ten Championship: Ohio State picked up a share of the 30th Big Ten title in school history, the second-highest total among all league programs behind only Michigan (42). The Buckeyes have now won two conference championships in head coach Jim Tressel's five years at the helm and four crowns in the last decade, also splitting the title in 1996, 1998 and 2002. The Wolverines lead the way with five championships in the last 10 years (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004), followed by OSU's four crowns and a pair of first-place finishes for Iowa (2002, 2004), Northwestern (1996, 2000) and Wisconsin (1998, 1999).
Penn State's Second Title: The Nittany Lions and head coach Joe Paterno picked up their second Big Ten Championship since joining the conference in 1993. PSU placed third in the standings in their first season before claiming the Big Ten title with a perfect 8-0 mark in 1994 -- part of an undefeated 12-0 campaign including a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon. Since joining the league, the Nittany Lions have placed third or better on six occasions -- 1993 (3rd), 1994 (1st), 1995 (T3rd), 1996 (T3rd), 1997 (T2nd) and 2005 (T1st).
Worst to First: Penn State became the third Big Ten program in the last six years to win a conference crown just one season after placing ninth or worse in the league standings. The Nittany Lions produced a 2-6 record during the 2004 campaign to finish in ninth place, only to improve to a 7-1 mark and a conference title in 2005. Illinois produced a similar reversal of fortunes four years ago, winning the 2001 championship with a 7-1 record after tying for ninth at 2-6 in 2000. While the Illini were placing ninth in 2000, Northwestern earned a share of the Big Ten crown with a 6-2 mark just one year after ending the 1999 season in 10th place with a 1-7 record.
Spreading the Love: Parity has reigned over the Big Ten landscape for the last decade (1996-2005) with eight different teams winning the conference title either outright or as a co-champion: Illinois ('01), Iowa (`02, '04), Michigan (`97, `98, `00, '03, '04), Northwestern (`96, `00), Ohio State (`96, `98, `02, '05), Penn State ('05), Purdue (`00) and Wisconsin (`98, `99). The title has been shared by at least two teams six times in this span, with a pair of three-team ties in 1998 and 2000 and two teams atop the standings in 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Big Ten Championships for Current Coaches: Seven current league coaches have earned at least one Big Ten crown in their careers. The complete list is below:
5 -- Lloyd Carr, MICH (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004)
3 -- Barry Alvarez, WIS (1993, 1998, 1999)
2 -- Kirk Ferentz, IOWA (2002, 2004); Jim Tressel, OSU (2002, 2005); Joe Paterno, PSU (1994, 2005)
1 -- Randy Walker, NU (2000); Joe Tiller, PUR (2000)
Nittany Lions Earn BCS Automatic Bid: While both OSU and PSU shared the Big Ten title, the Nittany Lions collected the league's automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth based on a 17-10 victory over the Buckeyes on Oct. 8. Penn State took part in its first BCS bowl game since the system's inception in 1998, becoming the sixth Big Ten school in eight years to earn BCS automatic qualification joining Illinois (2001), Michigan (2003, 2004), Ohio State (2002), Purdue (2000), and Wisconsin (1998, 1999).
Big Ten's Best BCS Finish: For the first time in Big Ten history, the league placed two teams among the top four in the final BCS standings released on Dec. 4. Penn State ended the regular season ranked third in the final BCS standings, surpassing the program's previous top final ranking of 11th in 1999, followed by Ohio State at fourth overall, the school's third top-five finish in the last four seasons (5th in 2003, 2nd in 2002). The Big Ten had previously placed two programs among the top five of the final BCS poll in 2003 (No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State) and 2002 (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Iowa). Overall, the Big Ten tied the ACC and SEC with five teams among the top 25 in the final BCS poll, including No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 20 Michigan and No. 25 Northwestern.
Big Ten Shatters Three Attendance Records: The Big Ten established three attendance records in 2005 while also surpassing the five million mark in total attendance for just the third time in league history. In 69 contests, the Big Ten averaged 72,566 patrons per outing which shattered the previous league best of 70,505 fans per game set in 2002. In addition, the conference's total attendance of 5,007,067 for all games ranks third in Big Ten annals behind only the 2002 (5,499,439 in 78 games) and 2003 (5,282,102 in 75 games) seasons. Big Ten programs also set records for total and average attendance in conference games only with 3,175,427 patrons in 44 contests for an average of 72,169 fans per outing. The previous league highs were 3,138,387 in total attendance and 71,326 per game, both established in 2001. The Big Ten boasted 38 sellouts this season, which equals the second-highest single-season total in league history behind only the 39 sellouts posted in 2004. Ten of the Big Ten's 11 teams boast at least one sellout this season and the league sold out all five games the weekend of Oct. 15, which marked the first time the league featured packed stadiums for every game in a single week since at least the 1998 season. In addition, the conference set a single-day attendance record during the opening week of non-conference play with an average of 76,475 fans for eight home games, besting the previous record average of 70,270 patrons for eight games on Sept. 14, 1985.
Nation's Best Fans: Big Ten teams fill three of the top four spots in the final NCAA attendance rankings and seven conference programs rated among the top 30 in the country, which ranks second to the SEC (nine top 30 teams) among all leagues. Michigan led the nation with an average of 110,915 patrons per game while Ohio State ranked third (105,017) and Penn State rated fourth (104,859). Other Big Ten schools to appear among the top 30 in average attendance were Wisconsin (13th with 82,551), Michigan State (20th with 75,183), Iowa (21st with 70,585) and Purdue (26th with 62,996).
First-Year Phenoms: Big Ten freshman had a big impact on the football field in 2005, with Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton being named the National Offensive Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News. The Wildcats running back was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after ranking third in the conference and eighth nationally with 122.8 rushing yards per game (1,474 yards total). Sutton also rated third in the conference with 18 touchdowns, including 16 on the ground. He was one of six first-year league standouts to be named to The Sporting News Freshman All-American first team, along with Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King, Minnesota defensive end Steven Davis, Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Penn State all-purpose player Justin King and Wisconsin defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. King was one of four Penn State freshmen to boost the Nittany Lions to a share of the Big Ten crown thanks to an improved offense, which led the conference at 35.2 points per game just one season after ranking last in 2004 with only 12.9 points per outing. Penn State's top three receivers this year were all in their first season on the field -- redshirt freshman Deon Butler (37-691 yards, 9 TDs) and true freshmen Jordan Norwood (32-422) and Derrick Williams (22-289, TD). Also on the receiving end, Indiana boasted one of the league's top wideouts in freshman James Hardy, who led the conference with 89.3 receiving yards per game and ranked second with 10 scoring catches, while hauling in 61 passes for 893 yards.
Non-Conference Review: The Big Ten produced a record of 28-6 (.824) in non-conference play in 2005, which is the best winning percentage since going 23-4 (.852) prior to bowl play in 1997. In addition, the league's 28 non-league victories were the most prior to bowl play in an 11-game season since Big Ten teams went 28-7 (.800) in 1999. All five of the schools that defeated league programs in 2005 took part in a bowl -- Arizona State (Insight), California (Las Vegas), Iowa State (Houston), Notre Dame (Fiesta) and Texas (Rose).
Road Warriors: Big Ten teams were especially successful on the road this season with a record of 26-27 (.491) in all away games, the league's best road winning percentage and most victories away from home since at least the 2000 season. The Big Ten's previous best road performance in the last six years occurred in 2002 when the programs built a 25-30 (.455) mark in visiting stadiums. In addition, conference teams won 20 of 44 road games in league action, matching the 2002 season for the most successful road campaign since 2000.
Basanez Ends Career Ranked Among Top Two in Five Categories: Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez ended his stellar career by setting the Big Ten mark with 1,975 total offensive plays in his four years on campus, while finishing second in four other categories. The Wildcats signal caller took part in 78 plays in the Sun Bowl against UCLA to move past Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (1,917) and Purdue's Drew Brees (1,931) to become the Big Ten career leader in the category. Basanez also completed 38-of-70 passes for 416 yards and added 32 yards on the ground against the Bruins to boost his career numbers to 1,584 pass attempts, 923 completions, 10,580 yards through the air and 11,576 yards of total offense. Basanez, the media's choice for Big Ten Player of the Year, ends his time in Evanston ranked second in all four categories behind only Brees. The first-team All-Big Ten selection also cracked the top 10 single-season leaders in all five categories. A complete list of Basanez' career and single-season accomplishments appears on page 8.
More Career Record Chasers: In addition to the performance of Basanez, the Michigan State duo of Brandon Fields and Drew Stanton, Ohio State's Ted Ginn, Jr., and Wisconsin's Brandon Williams also find themselves atop the Big Ten career charts in various categories. Fields, a junior who entered the season leading the Big Ten in career punting average, maintained his spot atop the rankings with a 45.6 career average with one year to play, just percentage points ahead of Iowa's Reggie Roby in second place (45.5 avg. from 1979-82). Stanton completed 66.7 percent of his passes in 2005, the fifth-best single-season performance in conference history, and surpassed 300 completions for his career to qualify for the top spot in the all-time records with a 65.7 completion percentage. The Spartans junior has one year left to remain ahead of the Hawkeyes' Chuck Long, currently ranked second after completing 65.0 percent of his passes from 1981-85. After setting an NCAA record with four punt return touchdowns as a freshman, Ginn, Jr., added a fifth score on a punt return to equal Iowa's Tim Dwight for the Big Ten career mark. The OSU sophomore also surpassed 40 career returns to qualify for second with his 15.6 yard average on punt returns, just behind the league record of 16.0 yards per return set by Indiana's Bill Hillenbrand from 1941-42. Williams ended his time in Madison with 106 career kickoff returns for 2,349 yards, which equaled MSU's Derrick Mason for total returns but ranked second to Mason's 2,575 yards. In other return records, Michigan's Steve Breaston climbed to second all-time with 1,267 punt return yards and into a tie for fourth with 98 punt returns.
Carr and Paterno Join Century Club: A pair of Big Ten coaches joined prestigious company this season when Penn State's Joe Paterno and Michigan's Lloyd Carr became just the 11th and 12th head coach, respectively, to collect 100 victories at a conference institution. Paterno, who ended the 2005 campaign ranked second in the NCAA records book with 354 career victories, was the first mentor to join the list after picking up his 100th win since joining the league in 1993 on Sept. 24 at Northwestern. Carr joined the club with an overtime victory at Iowa on Oct. 22, the same weekend that Paterno picked up his 350th career triumph at Illinois. Carr is the third Wolverines head coach on the list along with Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost.
A New Golden Age of Coaching?: With Alvarez, Paterno and Carr in the century club, the Big Ten featured three active coaches with 100 or more wins at their respective institutions for the first time in more than 85 years. The last time that three league coaches all ended a season with 100 or more wins at their schools was in 1921 when Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (158 wins at the time), Michigan's Fielding Yost (137) and Minnesota's Henry Williams (136) accomplished the feat. The conference coaching roster for 1921 also featured Illinois' Robert Zuppke, who had only 70 wins at the end of that season but would go on to rack up 131 triumphs in his career.
Big Ten Individual Leaders . . . : With the Big Ten season complete, the conference produced new statistical leaders in every major category during the 2005 campaign. Iowa's Albert Young rallied to become the first Hawkeye to lead the conference in rushing since Dennis Mosley in 1979. The sophomore running back, who ranked fifth among all rushers after five Big Ten games, climbed to second place on the charts entering the final weekend of play trailing only Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, whom the Hawkeyes were facing in the regular-season finale. In a matchup of the league's top two ground gainers, Young rushed for 103 yards while Maroney was limited to 10 yards before leaving the game in the first quarter after reaggravating an ankle injury. Young ended the season ranked first in league games only with 125.2 rushing yards per game, while Maroney topped the Big Ten in all games with 133.1 yards on the ground per outing. Ohio State's Troy Smith led the Big Ten in league games only with a 169.6 pass efficiency rating, making him the first Buckeye quarterback to lead the conference since Joe Germaine in 1998. Northwestern's Brett Basanez produced 339.4 yards of total offense per game to rank first in the league for the second time in his career after leading the way as a freshman in 2002 (250.3 ypg). He became just the second player in the last 20 years to average more than 300 yards of total offense per contest along with Purdue's Drew Brees, who accomplished the feat three times from 1998-2000. On the receiving end, Dorien Bryant become the fifth different Purdue wideout in the last seven years to top the Big Ten in receptions per game with 6.62 catches per outing in conference games only. The Boilermakers offense has produced the leading pass-catcher in six of the last seven seasons, a group that includes Taylor Stubblefield (2002, 2004), John Standeford (2003), Vinny Sutherland (2000) and Chris Daniels (1999). Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun led the charge in scoring with 10.5 points per game, making him the first UW player to lead the league in points since Ron Dayne in 1999. And in punting, fellow-Badger Ken DeBauche led the Big Ten with 44.4 yards per boot in conference contests only to end the two-year reign of Michigan State's Brandon Fields, who concluded the season ranked fourth with 41.0 yards per punt.
. . . and Team Leaders: In the team statistics, Ohio State dominated the defensive side of the ball while three different squads topped the charts in the major offensive categories. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in league games only in scoring defense (14.8 ppg), total defense (271.1 ypg), rushing defense (80.8 ypg) and passing defense (190.4 ypg). The last conference school to rank first in all four categories was Michigan in 2001. The Buckeyes have now topped the conference in points, total yards and rushing yards allowed in three of the last six seasons, including the 2000 and 2003 campaigns. OSU led in scoring defense four times in that six-year span (2005, 2003, 2002, 2000), ranked first in total defense on four occasions (2005, 2003, 2002, 2000) and topped the league in rushing defense three times (2005, 2003, 2000). However, the annual leader in passing defense in the Big Ten records book is determined by pass efficiency rating and Penn State (104.1) edged Ohio State (111.7) for the top spot in that category. The Nittany Lions also led the league in defensive pass efficiency last season with a rating of 92.8. On the offensive side of the ball, Northwestern was the only Big Ten unit to rank among the top five in points, total yards, rushing yards and passing yards per game. The Wildcats topped the conference in both total offense (494.0 ypg) and passing offense (306.6 ypg) while rating fourth in scoring offense (31.6 ppg) and fifth in rushing offense (187.4 ypg). Northwestern ranked first in total and passing offense for just the second time in school annals and the first time since the 1950 squad accomplished the feat. NU most recently led the way in total yardage in 2000 while topping the charts through the air in 1973. Minnesota led the Big Ten with 259.2 rushing yards per outing in 2005 league games, ranking first for the second time in three years (2003). Penn State put up more points than any other league outfit this season with 35.2 points per contest in Big Ten games to lead the way in scoring for the first time since setting the conference record in 1994 (48.1 ppg).
Gophers' Rushing Feat: In addition to leading the Big Ten in rushing, Minnesota became the first program in NCAA history to produce a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons. First-team All-Big Ten choice Laurence Maroney is the constant in that three-year span, tallying 1,464 yards in 2005 to become only the third player in Big Ten history to break the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first three seasons, joining Wisconsin's Ron Dayne and Michigan State's Sedrick Irvin. Maroney ranks second in school history with 3,933 yards on the ground for his career, a total that is just 279 yards shy of cracking the league's top-10 rushing leaders. Sophomore Gary Russell was the second Gopher to hit 1,000 rushing yards this season with a career-best 1,130 stripes. Maroney was joined by Marion Barber III with over 1,000 rushing yards in 2004 and 2003.
Badgers' Two-Way Threat: Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun also entered the conference records book this season. The junior led the league with 1,636 rushing yards while ranking third on the team with 571 yards receiving to become just the second player in NCAA history to record 1,500 yards on the ground and 500 yards through the air. The only other Division I-A player to accomplish that feat was Pacific's Ryan Benjamin. Calhoun is only the second Big Ten player to surpass 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving along with Iowa's Ronnie Harmon, who racked up 1,166 rushing yards and 699 receiving yards in 1985.
Putting Points on the Board: Big Ten offenses produced points at a record pace during the 2005 season with eight teams averaging 30 or more points per outing and all 11 teams tallying an average of 30.1 points per game, the highest totals for the league since at least 1990. The Big Ten's previous high over the last 15 seasons occurred when six teams averaged 30 points or better in 1999, while the highest average for the entire league was the 28.5 points per contest produced in 2002. Eight conference attacks rated among the top 36 scoring offenses in the country including Minnesota (T10th at 35.8 ppg), Penn State (13th at 34.4), Wisconsin (14th at 34.3), Michigan State (T18th at 33.8), Ohio State (26th at 32.7), Northwestern (28th at 32.3), Iowa (T36th at 30.0) and Purdue (T36th at 30.0).
Wildcats Join 500-Yard Club: Northwestern became just the second team in Big Ten history to average more than 500 yards of total offense per game after ending the 2005 campaign with an average of 500.3 yards per outing (4th in the country). The only other league attack to crack the 500-yard barrier was Penn State's 1994 team that produced 512.7 yards per contest to set a conference record. In addition to the Wildcats offensive explosion this season, two other league outfits ranked among the top five single-season leaders in total offense -- Michigan State (4th with 497.3 ypg; 5th nationally) and Minnesota (5th with 494.8 ypg; 7th nationally).
Gophers Break Through at Michigan: Minnesota snapped the longest current losing streak among all Big Ten series this season with a last-second 23-20 road victory at Michigan on Oct. 8, ending the Wolverine's 16-game winning streak against the Gophers. Minnesota claimed the Little Brown Jug for the first time under head coach Glen Mason and picked up its first triumph over Michigan since 1986, which was also a three-point road win (20-17). The Wolverine's 16-game winning streak ranked seventh all-time among Big Ten streaks, as the longest streak in league annals was snapped in 2004 when Northwestern ended a 24-game skid against Ohio State. Michigan still boasts the longest active winning streak in a conference series with a 13-game string of success against Indiana.
Big Ten on TV: The 2005 campaign featured the most televised contests in conference history for an 11-game season, with 68 of 70 home football games appearing on television. That total included all 44 intraconference and 24 interconference games televised by either ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Plus, ESPNU, ESPN Classic or ESPN360. Six interconference road games were also televised bringing to 74 the number of Big Ten football games that appeared on television.