Big Ten Weekly Football Release
Aug. 30, 2004
Big Ten Begins 109th Year: The 109th season of Big Ten football kicks off this week with all 11 Conference teams hitting the field, as Northwestern will be the first team in action with a road test at Texas Christian on Thursday. Nine schools will open play on Saturday with eight teams at home, including Big Ten Champion Michigan hosting MAC Champion Miami (OH), one of six MAC squads on the schedule that day. Purdue wraps up the first weekend of play with a rare Sunday outing, as the Boilermakers host Syracuse in a nationally-televised contest.
Welcome Back: Returning to Big Ten fields in 2004 are 22 All-Conference players from a year ago, including 10 First Team honorees and 12 Second Team selections. The First Team returnees are comprised of four offensive standouts (Michigan WR Braylon Edwards and OL David Baas, Minnesota RB Marion Barber III and OL Greg Eslinger), five defensive stalwarts (Iowa LB Abdul Hodge and DL Matt Roth, Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk, Wisconsin DL Anttaj Hawthorne and DB Jim Leonhard) and one special teams player (Michigan State P Brandon Fields). The Second Team picks include four players on offense, seven on defense and one on special teams. In addition, 22 Honorable Mention picks from last season also return to campus this fall.
2003 -- Another Great Year: The Big Ten is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent history, as the Conference sent eight programs to a bowl game for the first time in League annals. Only two other conferences have earned more than seven bowl bids in a single season -- the Big 12 and SEC.
The Big Ten is also the only conference to place three teams among the top 10 in both of the season-ending major polls for the last two years. In 2002, Ohio State won the national title and ended the year ranked first in both polls, followed by No. 8/8 Iowa and No. 9/9 Michigan (AP-ESPN/USA Today polls). The same three teams cracked the top 10 in last season's final polls, as the Buckeyes were No. 4/4 and were joined by the No. 6/7 Wolverines and the No. 8/8 Hawkeyes. No other conference placed more than two programs among the top 10 in the 2003 final rankings. The last time the Big Ten ended two straight seasons with three top-10 squads was in 1960 and 1961.
Individually, three Conference players won national awards in Iowa's Robert Gallery (Outland Trophy), Michigan's Chris Perry (Doak Walker Award) and Ohio State's B.J. Sander (Ray Guy Award). Gallery and Perry were named consensus All-Americans along with Hawkeyes' kicker Nate Kaeding and OSU defensive back Will Allen. In addition, the Buckeyes' Craig Krenzel was named the CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year and claimed the Draddy Award, the "Academic Heisman" given to the nation's top scholar-athlete. Krenzel was joined on the Academic All-America First Team by Northwestern's Jason Wright and Purdue's John Standeford.
Familiar Faces on Sidelines: The Big Ten returns all 11 football head coaches for the first time since the 2000 campaign, as the League has featured first-year coaches in each of the previous three seasons (MSU's John L. Smith in 2003, Indiana's Gerry DiNardo in 2002 and OSU's Jim Tressel in 2001). Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez is the dean of the Big Ten coaches with 14 years on the sidelines in Madision, followed by Penn State's Joe Paterno (11 years in the Big Ten, 38 overall at PSU) and Michigan's Lloyd Carr (nine years at Michigan).
Alvarez and Tiller Aim for Century Club: A pair of Big Ten coaches are within striking distance of a major coaching milestone as Wisconsin's Alvarez and Purdue's Joe Tiller could both record their 100th career win this season. Alvarez could claim his 100th victory in the season opener as he has built a mark of 99-67-4 in 14 years in Madison. He would become just the 10th head coach in Big Ten history and the first Badgers' mentor to compile 100 triumphs. Tiller boasts a record of 94-62-1 in 13 seasons at Purdue (seven years; 55-32) and Wyoming. The complete list of coaches to win 100 games at a Big Ten institution are listed below:
Coach, Team -- Seasons, Record
Big Ten Record Chasers: A group of current Big Ten standouts will continue their attack on the Conference records book this season, led by Purdue wide receiver Taylor Stubblefied. In just three seasons in the Boilermakers' offense and despite missing three games while recovering from a fractured skull in 2002, the 6-1 wideout has already hauled in 236 passes. That total ranks third in Big Ten history behind Illinois' David Williams (262 catches) and former teammate John Standeford (266 catches), who set the current standard last season. The man who will be throwing the ball to Stubblefield could also find himself among the Big Ten's all-time greats, as quarterback Kyle Orton could climb into the top 10 in multiple categories after producing 550 completions, 947 attempts, 6,247 yards and 32 touchdowns in his first three years. Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards is aiming to become the first player in school annals to post three-straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, as his career numbers of 155 receptions, 2,212 yards and 24 touchdowns are all nearing the Big Ten top-10 list. A pair of Wisconsin standouts could make an impact on the League records book as defensive back Jim Leonhard already rates among the top 10 with 904 punt return yards (T9th; second in school history) and 18 interceptions (T8th; second in school annals). Despite missing all or parts of nine games last season, Badgers' running back Anthony Davis boasts 3,703 yards on 707 attempts with 31 touchdowns, all of which rank just outside the League's top 10.
Poll Points: The Big Ten was well represented in the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls as the League boasted six teams in both preseason rankings. That total led all conferences, as the ACC and SEC earned five selections a piece in both polls. The Big Ten boasted two teams among the top 10, as defending League champion Michigan was ranked No. 8/7 (AP-ESPN/USA Today polls) while Ohio State rated ninth in both polls. Four other Big Ten teams cracked the top 25 in No. 19/12 Iowa, No. 21/22 Wisconsin, No. 24/23 Purdue and No. 25/23 Minnesota. Penn State received votes in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today poll while Michigan State received votes in the ESPN/USA Today rankings.
Big Ten Squads to Face 2003 Bowl Teams: This year eight Big Ten teams will play non-conference opponents that appeared in a 2003 bowl game. Northwestern will square off against three bowl teams in its four-game non-conference slate, including contests against TCU (Fort Worth Bowl), Kansas (Tangerine) and Hawaii (Hawaii). Michigan State will also face Hawaii after the Big Ten season concludes. Six other Big Ten teams will play one non-conference bowl opponent as Illinois hosts UCLA (Silicon Valley), Indiana travels to Oregon (Sun), Michigan battles Miami of Ohio (GMAC), Minnesota plays at Colorado State (San Francisco), Ohio State hits the road against N.C. State (Tangerine) and Penn State travels to Boston College (San Francisco).
Big Ten on TV: Nine of the 11 Big Ten games in the opening week of the season will be televised, including three games on ABC. No fewer than 68 Big Ten football games (60 home, eight road) will be televised by ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional, NBC Sports, and Fox Sports Net this season. Last season, the Conference had more football television exposure than at any time in its history with a total of 80 games televised in the regular-season and post-season, while attendance figures soared above 70,000 per game for the fourth consecutive year.
Big Ten Instant Replay: The Big Ten will begin use of an experimental instant replay system during the 2004 season, as all seven home games appearing on television during the opening weekend will utilize the new system. The NCAA Football Rules Committee granted the Big Ten the right to experiment with instant replay on a one-year basis for all televised games at League stadiums in 2004. While all 44 Big Ten games will utilize this system, visiting teams during non-conference contests must approve the usage of instant replay. The four schools that did not grant their approval for use of the system were Arizona State (Sept. 11 at Northwestern), UCLA (Sept. 11 at Illinois), Iowa State (Sept. 11 at Iowa) and San Diego State (Sept. 18 at Michigan). The remaining 12 non-conference opponents consented to the use of instant replay, while the system will be unavailable for the six home games not scheduled to be televised (Florida A&M and Western Michigan at Illinois; Central Michigan at Indiana; Illinois State at Minnesota; Kansas at Northwestern; Ball State at Purdue). For more information on the Big Ten's instant replay system, go to www.bigten.org.
Big Ten Breaks Five-Million Mark in Attendance: The Big Ten surpassed the five-million mark in total attendance last year for the second straight season and just the second time in League annals, as 5,282,102 fans went through the turnstiles for 75 games. Needing only 62,158 fans in the final weekend to break the five-million barrier, Michigan's home game against Ohio State pushed the League's total past that mark on its own by setting a NCAA record with 112,118 patrons at Michigan Stadium. The Conference shattered the four-million plateau for the 11th-straight season and 14th time overall, as the League set a single-season attendance record and surpassed the five-million barrier for the first time in 2002 (5,499,439 -- 70,505 avg.). For 2003, the Big Ten's total attendance and average per game (70,428) both ranked second only to the previous year's record-breaking performance. In addition, the Big Ten's 37 sellouts also rate second all-time behind the 38 sellouts during the 2000 campaign. The Conference shattered single-day attendance records three times last season, twice establishing a new high mark for six-game weekends (most recently averaging 86,265 fans on September 27) and setting a new record for a four-game weekend (averaging 83,399 patrons on October 18). In Conference games only, the Big Ten averaged more than 70,000 people per outing for the fourth-straight season with an average of 70,202 per game, while the League's total of 3,088,867 patrons broke the three-million mark for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time overall.
No Plays for 2004: Each year, two Big Ten teams do not meet. Here is the break-down of "no-plays" for 2004:
Team -- Does not play
Big Ten Bowl Bits from 2003:
For the 11th straight year and 18th time overall, the Big Ten Conference sent five or more teams to postseason play. It was the 12th time that six or more Big Ten teams participated in bowls and the sixth time for seven teams.
Big Ten teams have made 85 bowl appearances since the 1990 season. Overall, Big Ten teams have made 206 bowl appearances -- the third-highest total of all Division I-A conferences (SEC 323, Big 12 281).
Big Ten teams played in front of a total of 509,726 fans in eight bowl games last year, including a sellout in the Rose Bowl, for an average of more than 63,000 patrons per contest.
In 2004, the Big Ten again has contractual tie-ins with the Rose/BCS, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Sun, Music City and Motor City bowls.
More Non-Conference News from 2003:
In addition to success against BCS conference foes, the Big Ten won eight of 14 games against nationally ranked non-conference opponents in 2003. The complete list of wins over these ranked teams appears below:
Wolverines Win 2003 Big Ten Championship: Michigan added to its Conference-high total of Big Ten crowns as the Wolverines claimed the 2003 League title. Michigan now leads all Conference programs with 41 Big Ten Championships, including four in the last seven seasons (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003), as the Ohio State ranks second with 29 titles and no other League team boasts half of UM's sum. Wolverines mentor Lloyd Carr now has four Conference crowns, more than any other active coach as Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez ranks second with three first-place finishes. Michigan is the sixth Big Ten team in the last decade to claim sole possession of the League title, as multiple squads had shared the title in three of the previous five years, including 2002 co-champions Iowa and Ohio State. The last Conference program to end the year alone atop the standings was Illinois in 2001, while the Wolverines' last solo Big Ten crown was in 1997, when the team earned a share of the national title.
Spreading the Wealth: In the last decade (1994-2003), eight different teams have won the Big Ten title either outright or as a co-champion: Illinois ('01), Iowa (`02), Michigan (`97, `98, `00, '03), Northwestern (`95, `96, `00), Ohio State (`96, `98, `02), Penn State (`94), Purdue (`00) and Wisconsin (`98, `99). The title has been shared by at least two teams only four times in this span, with a pair of three-team ties in 1998 and 2000.
Big Ten Championships for Current Coaches: Eight current League coaches have earned at least one Big Ten crown in their careers, led by Michigan's Lloyd Carr with four titles. The complete list is below: