2010 Big Ten Football Prospectus
April 12, 2010
Welcome Back: Returning to Big Ten fields in 2010 are 20 All-Conference players from last season, including 12 first-team honorees and eight second-team selections. The first-team returnees are comprised of eight offensive, and four defensive standouts. The second-team picks include three players on offense, four on defense and one on special teams. In addition, 33 honorable mention honorees from last season also return to campus.
ALL-BIG TEN FIRST-TEAM RETURNEES
Justin Boren, SR, OL, OSU (Media only)
Evan Royster, SR, TB, PSU
Stefen Wisniewski, SR, C, PSU
Keith Smith, SR, WR, PUR (Media only)
STATS: 91-1,100 yards, 12.1 YPC, 6 TDs
Led the conference in receptions and receiving yards, catching 91 passes for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns in 2009. His 91 receptions ranked seventh on the Big Ten's all-time single-season list.
Gabe Carimi, SR, OT, WIS (Media only)
John Clay, JR, TB, WIS
John Moffitt, SR, OG, WIS
Tyler Sash, JR, DB, IOWA
Greg Jones, SR, LB, MSU
Ryan Kerrigan, SR, DE, PUR (Media only)
ALL-BIG TEN SECOND-TEAM RETURNEES
Brandon Saine, SR, TB, OSU
Ralph Bolden, JR, RB, PUR
Cameron Heyward, SR, DL, OSU
Ross Homan, SR, LB, OSU
Jay Valai, SR, SS, WIS (coaches only)
Familiar Faces Back in the Lineup in 2010: As the conference teams head toward the start of the 2010 season, many of them will welcome back significant portions of their starting lineups from a year ago. Each conference team returns at least half of their starters from a season ago, with Wisconsin and Michigan topping the list with 18 returnees each. Both schools, along with Ohio State, bring back 10 offensive starters from a year ago, while Michigan and Iowa return eight starters from the defensive side of the ball. Iowa's 16 returning starters are third-most in the conference, while Northwestern and Ohio State welcome back 15 first-stringers from 2009. Illinois, Indiana and Michigan State return 14 starters, while Penn State and Purdue each have 13 coming back to their starting spots in 2010. Minnesota returns 12 starters this season, nine of which are coming back to the offensive side of the ball.
In Search of Six: Ohio State has won at least a share of the last five Big Ten Championships and will look to match the conference record with a sixth straight crown in 2010, equaling the feat first accomplished by the Buckeyes from 1972-77. OSU became just the second team in conference history to win five straight conference championships after claiming the 2009 title, splitting the crown with Penn State in 2005 and 2008 and ending the 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons alone in first place. The Buckeyes have compiled a Big Ten mark of 36-4 over the last five years. Ohio State became the first conference team in over 15 years to finish in first place in five straight seasons since Michigan won at least a share of five consecutive championships from 1988-92.
Offensive, Defensive MVPs Aim For Repeat Efforts In 2010: The 2009 Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year return to their respective teams in 2010. Wisconsin running back John Clay was the coaches and media pick for the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for more than 1,500 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns on the season. He was first in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation in 2009 with nearly 117 rushing yards per game. Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones enters 2010 as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, as voted by the conference media. Jones averaged 11.8 tackles per game, which ranked first in the Big Ten and third in the nation. He was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive player, and the Butkus Award, presented each year to the nation's best linebacker. Both finished with outstanding efforts in their 2009 finales, Clay with 121 yards and two touchdowns in the Champs Sports Bowl and Jones with a game-high 13 tackles in the Valero Alamo Bowl, to serve as a nice springboard into 2010.
Returning MVPs Aiming For Uncommon Feat: When Wisconsin's John Clay and Michigan State's Greg Jones return to the gridiron in 2010, they will be chasing their second consecutive Player of the Year awards. Clay becomes the first returning Offensive Player of the Year since 1999 when former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees returned to the Boilermakers after being honored as a sophomore in 1998. Jones becomes the first returning Defensive Player of the Year since 2008, when Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis came back to successfully defend his 2007 conference honor. Laurinaitis is one of just four players to earn Player of the Year accolades in back-to-back years. Illinois linebacker Dana Howard won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1993 and 1994, Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson won Player of the Year honors in 1988 and 1989, and Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996. Other two-time Big Ten Players of the Year include Michigan State running back Lorenzo White (1985, 1987) and Brees (1998, 2000).
Running Back For Another Year: Entering spring ball, the Big Ten returns its top 10 rushing leaders from a year ago, and 10 of the conference's 11 squads welcome back their top ball-carrier from 2009. Wisconsin junior John Clay won the Big Ten rushing title last season, totaling 1,517 yards and a conference-high 18 touchdowns en route to Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. Penn State senior Evan Royster also cracked the 1,000-yard mark in 2009, finishing with 1,169 yards on 205 carries, a 5.7 average. Juniors Ralph Bolden of Purdue (935 yards), Mikel Leshoure of Illinois (734), and Dan Herron (600), Terrelle Pryor (779) and Brandon Saine (739) of Ohio State return to their respective backfields. The Iowa sophomore duo of Adam Robinson (834) and Brandon Wegher (641) give the Hawkeyes a young, but experienced backfield, while fellow sophomore Darius Willis (607) returns to Indiana.
Lucky Seven Back Under Center: The Big Ten welcomes back seven starting quarterbacks from the 2009 season, five of which led their teams to bowl appearances. Iowa senior Ricky Stanzi and Ohio State junior Terrelle Pryor each led their squads to BCS victories last January, Stanzi in the Orange Bowl and Pryor in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin senior Scott Tolzien led the Badgers to a victory in the Champs Sports Bowl, while Minnesota senior Adam Weber guided the Gophers to the Insight Bowl. Michigan State junior Kirk Cousins guided the Spartans' in their 31-point effort in the Alamo Bowl. Also returning in 2010 is the conference's top statistical passer, Indiana senior Ben Chappell, and Michigan sophomore Tate Forcier, the only full-time freshman starting quarterback in the Big Ten last year.
Seasoned Vets at Wide Receiver: Not only does the Big Ten return a talented class of running backs, the conference's corps of wideouts should prove to be a formidable bunch in 2010. Eight conference standouts who ranked among the top 10 in either receptions or receiving yards are back, six of which will be juniors next season. Purdue senior Keith Smith led the conference in both catches and yards, finishing with 91 grabs for 1,100 yards. Indiana's combination of juniors Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher return to give the Hoosiers a pair of playmakers on the outside as the two combined for 138 catches and 1,732 yards in 2009. Iowa senior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Michigan State junior B.J. Cunningham, Ohio State junior DeVier Posey, Penn State junior Derek Moye and Wisconsin junior Nick Toon were also among the 2009 conference leaders in receptions and/or receiving yards per game that return for 2010.
Conference Stars Looking For Highlight Reel Plays During 2010: Several of the Big Ten's most dynamic playmakers return in 2010, including nine of the conference's top 10 in all-purpose yards. Many of the conference's top skill players also showcased their talents in the return game, including Indiana's Tandon Doss, Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Michigan's Darryl Stonum, Michigan State's Keshawn Martin and Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire. Stoudermire and Stonum each cracked the 1,000-return yard barrier in 2009, while Johnson-Koulianos, Martin, and Stonum each returned kicks for touchdowns in 2009.
Sack Masters: Of the top 10 sack leaders from 2009, six return to the field in 2010. The Big Ten's sack leader in 2009, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan returns to the Boilermaker defensive line after totaling 13.0 sacks last season. Iowa's Adrian Clayborn was third on the conference's list last season with 11.5 sacks, while Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones finished 2009 with nine sacks and ranked fifth on the conference list. Ohio State's Cameron Heyward and Iowa's Broderick Binns each finished with 6.5 sacks last season, tied for eighth in the Big Ten, and Penn State's Jack Crawford was 10th in the conference with 5.5 sacks.
Attacking The Backfield: Six of the Big Ten's 2009 leaders in tackles for loss will be tormenting opposing teams' backfields once again this season. With 20.0 TFLs in 2009, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn ranked third last season and was followed closely in fourth by Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan with 18.5. Wisconsin's J.J. Watt returns after totaling 15.5 TFLs in 2009, while Purdue's Jason Werner and Penn State's Jack Crawford each finished last year with 14.5 TFLs. Michigan State's Greg Jones was 10th on last season's list, finishing with 14.0 TFLs.
Busting Up the Record Books: The Big Ten records book will likely need updating during the course of the 2010 season as several Big Ten players hold spots among the top 10 career leaders in various categories. Adam Weber, a three-year starter under center for Minnesota and the conference's longest-tenured quarterback, finished 2009 10th on the Big Ten's all-time passing attempts and passing completions lists. Weber is 704-of-1,226 in his three-year career with the Golden Gophers and needs 452 attempts and 322 completions to move into the top spot. Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees finished his career 1,026-of-1,678 and holds both records. Weber's career passing yardage of 7,837 is 888 yards away from cracking the top 10. Gopher teammate Troy Stoudermire ranks in the top 10 of three categories, including fourth in kickoff return yards (2,140), seventh in kickoff returns (86), and eighth in kickoff return average (24.9). Wisconsin's David Gilreath has already established himself as one of the Big Ten's all-time best as a returner, ranking as the conference's all-time leader in returns (108) and second in yards (2,366).
Paterno Still the One: Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 394th victory with a triumph over LSU in the Capital One Bowl and currently holds the all-time victory record among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. Paterno has built a record of 394-129-3 in his 44 seasons leading the Nittany Lions. Paterno is the longest serving head coach at one school in major college football history. Amos Alonzo Stagg served as head coach at Chicago for 41 years (1892-1932) during his 57-year tenure as a head coach.
Ready To Join The Century Club: After a win in the Capital One Bowl improved his record to 147-62 since joining the Big Ten, Penn State coach Joe Paterno remains the only active conference head man to rank among the coaches century club. Paterno is ranked fifth on the list of 12 mentors to collect 100 or more wins while at a Big Ten school. He may receive some company this year as Ohio State's Jim Tressel is just six wins away from becoming the club's 13th member. Tressel is 94-21 (.817) through nine seasons in Columbus and should his 10.4 wins per season average hold up, he'll join the elite Big Ten coaching group by season's end.
Superior Coaching: The Big Ten has a trio of current coaches who have reached a level of success that most conference coaches never achieve. Penn State's Joe Paterno has recorded 86 conference wins in his 17 years in the Big Ten, ranking fifth all-time. Ohio State's Jim Tressel has compiled an impressive Big Ten record of 59-13 (.819) in his nine years with the Buckeyes which would put him second on the list of all-time winning percentage leaders among 10-year conference coaches. Michigan's Bo Schembechler holds the top spot with an .850 mark. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz just finished his 11th year at Iowa and has won 49 Big Ten games, as he looks to join his mentor, Hayden Fry, as just the second Hawkeye coach with 50 or more conference triumphs. Paterno, Ferentz and Tressel have also excelled in bowl games. Paterno leads all Big Ten coaches with 10 bowl triumphs, while Ferentz and Tressel picked up their fifth postseason victories last year to join a group of nine conference mentors with at least five bowl wins in their careers.
Returning Statistical Leaders: Returning to Big Ten campuses this season are seven of the 14 statistical leaders from 2009 as shown in the chart on page five of the PDF version of the prospectus. Purdue wide receiver Keith Smith led the conference with 7.58 receptions and 91.7 yards per outing. Wisconsin's John Clay averaged a conference-best 116.7 rushing yards per game. Badger teammate Scott Tolzien recorded a conference-best 143.0 pass efficiency during the 2009 season, while Indiana's Tandon Doss was the conference leader in all-purpose yardage, averaging 138.8 yards a game. Defensively, Michigan State's Greg Jones and his 11.8 tackles per game average returns to the Spartans while Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan led the Big Ten with 1.08 sacks per outing.
A New Bowl Lineup: Big Ten teams will take part in a new bowl lineup this season, with six Big Ten bowl games set to be featured on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Conference schools will still have the opportunity to take part in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Insight Bowl and Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, but will also now be able to play in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl, Texas Bowl and Dallas Football Classic. The new Big Ten bowl lineup will run through the 2013 college football season. The Big Ten's new bowl lineup will begin in late December with the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and Texas Bowl, followed by six more postseason contests played over an estimated 26-hour period on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The Insight Bowl will be played on Dec. 31, followed by five more conference bowl games over a roughly nine-hour period on Jan. 1, including the Dallas Football Classic, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Gator Bowl and Rose Bowl.
Big Ten Takes on Bowl Teams: During the non-conference portion of the 2010 season, Big Ten teams will face 15 teams that earned a postseason berth in 2009. Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio State each will face three teams that advanced to a bowl game, Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State each face two, while Northwestern will face one bowl opponent. Illinois will open the season by facing Missouri (Texas) for the fourth-consecutive year, then face Northern Illinois (International) before opening conference play. The Illini visit Fresno State (New Mexico) in their season finale. Iowa hosts Iowa State (Insight) before traveling to Arizona (Holiday) in the third week. Michigan opens the 2010 season against Connecticut (Papajohns.com) and faces Bowling Green (Humanitarian) before opening Big Ten play. Minnesota opens the season at Middle Tennessee (New Orleans) before hosting Southern California (Emerald) and Northern Illinois in the third and fourth weeks. Northwestern will host Central Michigan (GMAC) before opening Big Ten play. Ohio State's first three opponents of the year are against bowl teams in Marshall (Little Caesar's), Miami (Fla.) (Champs Sports) and Ohio (Little Caesar's). Penn State travels to Tuscaloosa to face defending national champion Alabama (BCS Championship Game) and will battle Temple (EagleBank) in the fourth week.
No Plays for 2010: Each year, two Big Ten teams do not meet. Here is the breakdown of "no-plays" for 2010:
Team -- Does not play