Aug. 30, 2010
Big Ten Opens 115th Season: The 115th season of Big Ten football gets underway on Thursday night in primetime, the second consecutive year the conference opens a new campaign during the week. A trio of conference squads begins the year Thursday, Sept. 2, with each contest being broadcast to a national audience. Indiana hosts Towson and Ohio State welcomes Marshall as both games will be played at 7:30 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network. Minnesota travels to Middle Tennessee State for a 7:30 p.m. contest that will be carried by ESPNU. It is the second straight year Indiana begins the season with a midweek primetime showdown. On Saturday, Illinois faces Missouri in St. Louis, Iowa hosts Eastern Illinois, Michigan entertains Connecticut, Michigan State welcomes Western Michigan, Northwestern heads to Vanderbilt, Penn State hosts Youngstown State, Purdue travels to Notre Dame, and Wisconsin visits UNLV.
Big Ten Polling Place: The Big Ten is one of only two conferences with three teams appearing among the top 12 in both the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches' preseason polls. Ohio State led the way rating second nationally in both rankings, receiving four first-place votes from the coaches and three first-place votes from the media. Iowa also cracked the top 10 in both polls, rated ninth by the AP and 10th by the coaches. Wisconsin was ranked 12th in both polls while Penn State was rated 14th in the USA Today Coaches' poll and 19th in the AP rankings. Michigan State and Northwestern also received votes in the coaches' poll. The Big Ten and Big 12 are the only conferences to feature three teams among the top 12 in both polls, while the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are the only conferences to feature multiple teams among the top 10 in both rankings.
Preseason Picks: Media members attending the Big Ten Football Media Days selected five-time defending conference champion Ohio State as the preseason favorite while Iowa was tabbed to finish second and Wisconsin was dubbed the third pick (the Big Ten only releases a top-three poll). For the second straight year, Buckeyes' quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones were chosen as the Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively. Pryor is the first player to repeat as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne earned the honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Pryor has guided Ohio State to two Big Ten Championships and two Bowl Championship Series games in his first two seasons and was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. Jones is the first back-to-back Preseason Defensive Player of the Year since Ohio State's James Laurinaitis in 2007 and 2008. Jones was named the 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American and first-team All-Conference pick last season.
The 800 Club: In the history of college football, only six schools have compiled 800 or more all-time victories, and four of those teams are either current or future members of the Big Ten. Michigan leads the way with 877 triumphs while Ohio State ranks fifth with 819 victories and Penn State rates sixth with 811 triumphs. The Wolverines, Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are joined among the top six by future Big Ten member Nebraska, which ranks fourth with 826 wins. Other members of the 800-plus victory club include Texas (845) and Notre Dame (837).
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. Ohio State is one of two schools in conference history to win five straight conference championships, 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.
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.
Familiar Faces Back in the Lineup in 2010: As 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 and Ohio State are tied for third in the conference with 16 returning starters while Northwestern welcomes 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.
You Know Where to Find Us: Once again, the Big Ten and its teams will enjoy extensive television exposure during the 2010 season as each home conference contest during the first four weeks of the season will be televised by ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big Ten Network. Over the past three seasons, the conference's media agreements resulted in the most television coverage in history, as each home game was televised to a national audience. Each ABC game during the early or late afternoon window is broadcast nationally, either solely on ABC or simultaneously on ABC and ESPN or ESPN2. Entering its fourth year of operation, the Big Ten Network is now available to more than 75 million homes nationally through agreements with more than 300 affiliates and is in 19 of the nation's top 20 markets.
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. In 11 years at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz 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.
Big Ten on Watch Lists: The Big Ten now features 56 student-athletes on preseason watch lists for 20 different national awards. Among the honored conference players, 23 appear on more than one list while six appear on five or more different lists. Ohio State tops all Big Ten schools with 12 different players appearing on watch lists, followed by 11 nominees from Wisconsin, eight selections from Iowa and five players each from Michigan and Michigan State. A complete list of players on the preseason watch lists for national awards appears on the PDF.
On the defensive side of the ball, five standouts appear on five or more different watch lists. Reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American Greg Jones of Michigan State tops all Big Ten players by appearing on six different preseason watch lists. The senior linebacker has been named to watch lists for the Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards and the Lott and Nagurski Trophies. Ohio State's duo of defensive end Cameron Heyward and linebacker Ross Homan are joined by defensive ends Adrian Clayborn of Iowa and Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue on five different watch lists. All four standouts appear on the watch lists for the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards and Nagurski Trophy. Clayborn, Heyward and Kerrigan were all nominated for the Hendricks Award, while Heyward, Homan and Kerrigan were tabbed for the Lott Trophy. In addition, Clayborn was named a candidate for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, while Homan is on the watch list for the Butkus Award. Other defensive standouts to appear on multiple lists include Iowa defensive back Tyler Sash and defensive end Broderick Binns, Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland and defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State leads all Big Ten players by appearing on five watch lists. The 2010 Rose Bowl Game Offensive Most Valuable Player was named to the watch lists for the Hornung, Manning, Maxwell, O'Brien and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards. Fellow quarterbacks Ricky Stanzi of Iowa and Scott Tolzien of Wisconsin were chosen for four different watch lists, including the Manning, Maxwell, Unitas and O'Brien Awards. Last year's first-team All-Big Ten running backs both appear on three different watch lists, as Penn State's Evan Royster and Wisconsin's John Clay were named to the watch lists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Clay is the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Other offensive standouts to appear on multiple lists include Indiana wide receiver Tandon Doss, Iowa wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey and offensive linemen Justin Boren and Mike Brewster, Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski and Wisconsin offensive lineman Gabe Carimi and tight end Lance Kendricks.
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 near or among the top 10 career leaders in various categories. Adam Weber, a three-year starter under center for Minnesota, enters the 2010 campaign ranked 10th in Big Ten history with 704 completions and 1,226 passing attempts. His career passing yardage of 8,238 is 487 yards away from cracking the top 10, and his 52 passing touchdowns are nine shy of the top 10. Weber also ranks eighth with 1,572 total offensive plays and is just outside the top 10 with 8,955 total offensive yards. Fellow signal caller Terrelle Pryor has accumulated 1,410 rushing yards in two seasons at Ohio State, just 267 yards shy of cracking the top 10 for ground yardage by a quarterback. On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa safety Tyler Sash has racked up 350 yards on interception returns, which ranks sixth in Big Ten annals, while Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan has forced nine fumbles, which is tied for seventh in conference history. On special teams, 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 kickoff returns (108) and second in yards (2,366). Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire is just behind Gilreath and rates in the top 10 of three categories, including fourth in kickoff return yards (2,140), seventh in kickoff returns (86), and ninth in kickoff return average (24.9). Michigan's Darryl Stonum enters the year ranked sixth in Big Ten history with 25.6 yards per kickoff return. The complete list of active Big Ten players among career leaders appears on the PDF.
Loaded Postseason: The Big Ten will take part in a new bowl lineup this season, which includes five games to be featured on New Year's Day and eight bowl partners for the first time in conference history. The conference announced four-year bowl extensions with the Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Insight Bowl, and Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and new four-year bowl agreements with the Gator Bowl, Texas Bowl and Dallas Football Classic. The Big Ten is in the midst of an eight-year extension with the Rose Bowl Game through the 2013 season. The Big Ten bowl season will open on Dec. 26 with the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and will be followed by the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28 and the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29. The conference's New Year's Day bowl lineup begins with the Dallas Football Classic, followed by the Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl and finally the Rose Bowl Game.
Big Ten Takes on Bowl Teams: During the non-conference portion of the 2010 season, Big Ten teams will face 15 squads that earned postseason berths 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 playing 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 Caesars Pizza), Miami (Fla.) (Champs Sports) and Ohio (Little Caesars Pizza). Penn State travels to Tuscaloosa to face defending national champion Alabama (BCS Championship Game) and will face 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
Illinois - Iowa, Wisconsin
Indiana - Michigan State, Minnesota
Iowa - Illinois, Purdue
Michigan - Minnesota, Northwestern
Michigan State - Indiana, Ohio State
Minnesota - Indiana, Michigan
Northwestern - Michigan, Ohio State
Ohio State - Michigan State, Northwestern
Penn State - Purdue, Wisconsin
Purdue - Iowa, Penn State
Wisconsin - Illinois, Penn State