Big Ten Weekly Football Release - August 26

Indiana and wide receiver Shane Wynn open the 2013 campaign on Thursday night against Indiana State.

Indiana and wide receiver Shane Wynn open the 2013 campaign on Thursday night against Indiana State.

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Aug 26, 2013

B1G Moments in Rose Bowl History:
Jan. 1, 1902 - Michigan 49 Stanford 0
An estimated 8,500 fans packed Tournament Park, where Michigan capped an undefeated season in the first Rose Bowl Game. Michigan totaled 527 yards rushing in the win over Stanford, led by leading rusher Willie Heston, who finished with 170 yards on 18 carries. Neil Snow scored five touchdowns in the victory.

The Season is Here:  The Big Ten will kick off its 118th season of football this week as all 12 programs open the 2013 slate. Two conference programs open the new year on Thursday as Indiana will host in-state rival Indiana State and Minnesota welcomes UNLV, both televised at 7 p.m. ET by BTN. The network will also carry Michigan State's opener against Western Michigan on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, while the remaining nine Big Ten squads begin the season on Saturday. The complete opening weekend schedule appears to the right.

Centennial Season:   The Rose Bowl Game and the Tournament of Roses will celebrate 100 years of "The Granddaddy of Them All" at the 2014 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena on January 1. First contested in 1902, the Rose Bowl Game will kick at its traditional 5:10 p.m. ET time slot and feature teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12. The Tournament of Roses will also host the final installation of the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game on January 6. Current Big Ten programs have appeared in all but two Rose Bowl Games since 1946.

The Highest Honor:  This season, the Big Ten will distribute the 100th Medal of Honor, which pays tribute to outstanding senior student-athletes who demonstrate excellence in both academics and athletics. The conference annually honors two individuals from each campus with the Big Ten Medal of Honor, including 2012 recipient John Urschel of Penn State, who returns to the Nittany Lions for his final season. Urschel was an Academic All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten honoree last year on the Nittany Lion offensive line. He spoke on behalf of the assembled student-athletes at the 42nd annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Thursday, July 25, where he received a standing ovation.

Big Ten Football Championship Game:  The third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will once again determine the Big Ten Champion and send one conference representative to play in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. The 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game will be broadcast at 8:17 p.m. ET by FOX on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Wisconsin was victorious in the first two conference championship contests, knocking off Michigan State in 2011 before defeating Nebraska a season ago.

Where We Rank:  Seven Big Ten programs are receiving votes in the preseason rankings released by the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches groups. Ohio State is the highest ranked conference squad, appearing at No. 2 in both standings, the highest ranking for a conference team in the preseason polls since the Buckeyes were second entering the 2010 season. Four other conference teams appear in the top 25 of the polls - No. 17/17 Michigan (AP/USA Today), No. 18/18 Nebraska, No. 22/22 Northwestern and No. 23/23 Wisconsin. Michigan State is receiving votes from both groups, while Penn State is also receiving votes in the AP poll.

Big Ten Watch Lists:  More than 70 conference standouts appear on at least 17 preseason watch lists that were announced during the course of the summer. Five or more players appear on 12 of the national watch lists, including the Bednarik, Biletnikoff, Butkus, Doak Walker, Hornung, Maxwell, Thorpe and Walter Camp awards and the Lombardi, Nagurski, Outland and Rimington trophies. For a full list of Big Ten players named to preseason watch lists, turn to Page 5 of the release.

On Watch:  The conference announced its third annual football Players to Watch list, with 10 players earning preseason recognition at Big Ten Football Media Days. The preseason Players to Watch list is selected by a media panel and consists of five student-athletes each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division. Representing the Legends Division are Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Northwestern running back Venric Mark. A unanimous selection, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is one of three Buckeyes named to the Leaders Division Players to Watch list. Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland round out the division's honorees. Borland, Lewan and Miller were named to the Big Ten Football Players to Watch list for the second straight season.

Back Four More:  Wisconsin enters the 2013 season seeking its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. The Badgers shared the title in 2010 before winning the first two Big Ten Football Championship Games in 2011 and 2012 to give them three straight titles for the first time in school history. Wisconsin has now won 14 Big Ten Championships and is looking to join Michigan and Ohio State as the third Big Ten program to win four straight conference titles. The Buckeyes were the most recent team to accomplish that feat, earning at least a share of five straight titles from 2005 to 2009. In total, two programs have combined to win four or more consecutive Big Ten Championships on seven occasions, five times by Michigan and twice by Ohio State.

A Dozen and Counting:  Ohio State begins the 2013 campaign with the nation's longest active winning streak after producing a perfect 12-0 record last season. The Buckeyes' string of 12 straight triumphs is the longest winning streak by a Big Ten team since Iowa won 13 straight games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Wisconsin won 14 straight games from 2006-07, while Ohio State claimed 19 straight victories from 2005-06. In program history, the Buckeyes have won a dozen or more games eight times, including a team-high 22 straight victories from 1967-69. The 12-straight wins is the fourth-longest of coach Urban Meyer's career.

An Offensive Trend:  For the fourth consecutive season, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is back to defend his award as Ohio State's Braxton Miller returns for his junior season after being named the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year. Wisconsin running back John Clay was tabbed the conference's top offensive player as a sophomore in 2009 and returned for his junior season. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson claimed Offensive Player of the Year laurels as a sophomore in 2010 and played two more seasons, setting the NCAA career record for rushing yards by a signal caller. Badgers running back Montee Ball claimed the top offensive honor as a junior in 2011 and returned last season to set NCAA career records for points, total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns.

Double Dip:  Ohio State's Braxton Miller enters the 2013 season with the chance to become just the second player to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons, joining former Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson (1988-89). Including Thompson, just four players have successfully defended their Player of the Year award. Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2007 and 2008, while Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald earned the same honor in 1995 and 1996. Illinois linebacker Dana Howard was tabbed the conference's top defensive player in 1993 and 1994. Other two-time Big Ten Players of the Year include Michigan State running back Lorenzo White (1985, 1987) and Purdue quarterback Drew Brees (1998, 2000).

Rushing Renaissance:  Three active conference signal callers appear among the Big Ten's all-time career leaders in rushing yards by a quarterback, while a fourth is less than 100 yards from cracking the top 10. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez is the conference's active leader, having totaled 2,858 yards in his three seasons with the Huskers, which ranks third on the Big Ten's all-time list. Ohio State's Braxton Miller is eighth all-time, totaling 1,986 yards through his sophomore season and Illinois senior Nathan Scheelhaase is ninth with 1,795 yards. Northwestern's Kain Colter is just 76 yards from entering the top 10, boasting 1,691 rushing yards through three seasons. In addition, numerous standouts are already among the conference's all-time top 10 in other stat categories, a list found on Page 4 of the release.

Familiar Faces Back in the Lineup in 2013:  All 12 Big Ten teams welcome back at least 12 players to their starting lineups in 2013. Indiana leads all Big Ten schools with 21 players returning to their starting roles, including 10 on offense and nine on defense. Michigan State (nine on offense, seven on defense), Minnesota (nine on offense, seven on defense), Northwestern (eight on offense, seven on defense) and Purdue (five on offense, nine on defense) return 17 starters, while Iowa (six on offense, eight on defense), Penn State (eight on offense, six on defense) and Wisconsin (eight on offense, six on defense) bring back 16 starters. Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State feature 14 returning starters and Nebraska welcomes back 12 starters.

Offensive Approach:  Seven of the conference's top 10 rushers return from last season, led by Ohio State's Braxton Miller, who ranked fourth with 105.9 yards per contest, followed by Northwestern's Venric Mark, who averaged 105.5 yards per game in 2012. Six of the top 10 passers are back on the field, topped by Indiana's Cameron Coffman, who rated second last year with 248.5 passing yards per outing, while Nebraska's Taylor Martinez (205.1) and Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell (200.5) also surpassed 200 passing yards per game a year ago. Each of the top 10 wideouts in receiving yards will be back on their respective campuses this season, led by Penn State's Allen Robinson, who ranked first with 6.4 receptions and 84.4 receiving yards per game.

Getting Defensive:  On the defensive side of the ball, seven of the top 10 tacklers return, including each of the top three in Iowa's Anthony Hitchens (11.3 per game) and James Morris (9.4) and Ohio State's Ryan Shazier (9.6). Shazier also led the conference with 17.0 tackles for loss, while Northwestern's Tyler Scott returns after being tied for the conference lead with 9.0 sacks. A number of the nation's top defensive backs return, including several of the 2012 conference leaders in interceptions and passes defended. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Christian Bryant and Purdue's Ricardo Allen have each earned All-Big Ten accolades in their careers.

New Faces In New Places:  The Big Ten will welcome a pair of new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2013 campaign in Purdue's Darrell Hazell and Wisconsin's Gary Andersen. Hazell comes to the Boilermakers from Kent State, where he served as head coach for the last two seasons. The Golden Flashes posted a school-record 11 wins prior to bowl play and won their first-ever Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division Championship. Kent State played in its first bowl game in 40 years and Hazell was named the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year. Prior to his stint at Kent State, he spent seven seasons at Ohio State, where he served as assistant head coach and wide receivers coach. Andersen spent the previous four seasons as the head coach at Utah State. In 2012, Utah State won a school-record 11 games, going undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and capturing its first outright conference title since 1936. Andersen was named the WAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Before Utah State, Andersen was on the defensive staff at Utah for five seasons, including two undefeated campaigns culminating in BCS bowl victories.