Sept. 5, 2011
The Week That Was: During the opening weekend of action, Big Ten teams compiled a 10-2 mark, including victories in each home contest. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin each successfully defended their home turf last week, while Northwestern earned a road win against Boston College. Indiana and Minnesota were each within one possession of their opponents in close defeats.
Winning Weekend: The Big Ten won 10 games during the first week of play, marking the sixth time in the last seven seasons the conference has recorded 10 or more wins during the opening weekend of play. Big Ten teams also combined for 10 wins in 2009, 2007 and 2005, while going a perfect 11-0 in 2008 and 2006.
QB Debuts: Several Big Ten signal-callers had memorable season openers in their first games as full-time starting quarterbacks for their respective teams. Wisconsin's Russell Wilson threw for 255 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the Badgers' 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday night. On Saturday, Indiana's Edward Wright-Baker completed 20 of 32 passes for 272 yards, while Iowa's James Vandenberg threw for 219 yards with two touchdowns in a win over Tennessee Tech. Ohio State's Joe Bauserman threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Akron, while Purdue's Caleb TerBush recorded two touchdowns and led the Boilermakers on a game-winning drive in a 27-24 win over Middle Tennessee. Filling in the for the injured Dan Persa, Northwestern's Kain Colter completed 71 percent of his passes and guided the Wildcats to a 24-17 road win against Boston College.
Finding the End Zone: Six Big Ten standouts had a hand in three or more touchdowns during the opening weekend of play. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had three rushing and one receiving touchdown in the Badgers victory over UNLV on Thursday night, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for three scores and led the conference with 135 rushing yards, and Ohio State wide receiver Jake Stoneburner converted three of his four receptions into touchdowns. In addition to his three touchdown strikes to Stoneburner, Buckeye signal caller Joe Bauserman also recorded a rushing score. Iowa's James Vandenberg and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson each threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in their victories in Week 1.
Rushing Past 100: A trio of Big Ten rushers eclipsed the 100-yard mark in leading their respective teams to wins during the opening week of play. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is the conference's leading rusher after one game, piling up 135 rushing yards in the Cornhuskers victory over Chattanooga. Purdue's Ralph Bolden, appearing in his first game after missing the 2010 season due to injury, was the second leading rusher with 120 yards on 17 carries in Purdue's win over Middle Tennessee State. Penn State's Silas Redd rounds out the list of 100-yard rushers as he finished with 104 on 12 totes as the Nittany Lions knocked off Indiana State
We're Wide Open: A quintet of Big Ten wide receivers recorded 100 or more receiving yards on opening day. Illinois' A.J. Jenkins hauled in 11 catches for 148 yards and a score, followed by Iowa's Marvin McNutt, Jr., who had six grabs for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Rounding out the five 100-yard receivers are Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham with nine grabs for 130 yards and a touchdown, Illinois' Darius Millines with five catches for 119 yards and a score, and Indiana's Damarlo Belcher with four receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Tackling Machines: Eleven Big Ten defenders recorded 10 or more tackles during the first week of action, including three each for the Hoosiers and Golden Gophers. Michigan State's Max Bullough recorded a conference-leading 15 tackles on Friday against Youngstown State, while Purdue's Joe Holland finished with 14 on Saturday versus Middle Tennessee State. The week's third-leading tackler was Minnesota's Brock Vereen with 13, while teammates Kim Royston and Troy Stoudermire each recorded 11 defensive stops. Indiana's Chris Adkins and Jeff Thomas also finished with 11 stops, while teammate Adam Replogle was one of four players with 10 tackles during the opening week of action. Iowa's Christian Kirksey and James Morris and Michigan's Jordan Kovacs also had 10 defensive stops.
They're Kicking from Distance: A pair of Big Ten kickers showed their accuracy from distance last week, as each converted on a 50-yard field goal. Nebraska's Brett Maher converted from 50 yards, one of his four successful field goal tries on Saturday, while Purdue's Carson Wiggs was 2-for-2 last week, including a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Record-Setting Crowds: Nine Big Ten home teams opened the 2011 season at home, welcoming a new nine-game conference attendance record last weekend. In total, 707,695 fans entered the gates at Big Ten stadiums this week, including five sellouts, breaking the old nine-game mark of 684,385. Michigan and Ohio State each recorded attendance figures in excess of 105,000 fans each. Iowa and Michigan State reached or exceeded their seating capacity during Week 1, while Nebraska played in front of an NCAA-record 312th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium. Attendance figures for each Big Ten team's opener can be found on Page 12 of the PDF release.
That's Something You Don't See Every Day: A pair of Big Ten standouts achieved uncommon feats during the first weekend of play. Penn State's Chaz Powell returned Penn State's opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown against Indiana State on Saturday, marking the second consecutive season Powell has returned the Nittany Lions' opening kick for a score. Last season, Powell returned the opening kickoff the second half against Youngstown State for a touchdown. Michigan linebacker Brandon Herron became the first Wolverine in the modern era to record two defensive touchdowns in the same game. Herron returned an interception 94 yards for a score in the second quarter before recovering a fumble in the third quarter and taking it 29 yards to the end zone.
Two Weeks of Rivalry Games: A pair of non-conference trophy games will be contested in the next two weeks. On Saturday, Iowa travels to Ames for its annual showdown against Iowa State for the Cy-Hawk trophy. It will be the 25th meeting between the two programs with the Hawkeyes holding a 23-11 advantage. Next week, Michigan State travels to South Bend, Ind., in a battle for the Megaphone Trophy versus Notre Dame.
Six for the Tie, Seven for the Lead: Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, in his 46th season as Nittany Lion head coach, earned his 402nd career win against Indiana State on Saturday. He now needs six wins to tie former Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson, who in 55 years at the school total 408 career victories. Last season, Paterno became the second coach in Division I history to win 400 or more games, joining Robinson as the class' only two members. Paterno is the longest serving head coach in major college football history.
Coaching `Em Up: With the win over UNLV on Thursday night, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema became the sixth-fastest Big Ten coach since 1946 to reach 50 career wins. Only Bo Schembechler, Joe Paterno, Earle Bruce, Lloyd Carr and Jim Tressel reached 50 wins faster than Bielema. In addition, Bielema is 21-0 thus far in regular season non-conference games, the third-best start by a Big Ten coach, behind only Fielding Yost (41-0 at Michigan) and Paterno (23-0 at Penn State).
3,000-Yard Club: Minnesota kick returner Troy Stoudermire became just the second player in Big Ten history to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark in kickoff return yards following his performance against USC on Saturday. He now has 3,001 kickoff return yards, which ranks second in Big Ten history behind Wisconsin's David Gilreath with 3,025 yards. Stoudermire also ranks second in kickoff returns with 117 and his 25.6 kickoff return average ranks sixth in conference history.
Where We Rank... Find Out Tuesday: With Week 1 of the 2011 college football season wrapping up on Monday, the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll will be released on Tuesday, two days later than its usual release on Sunday afternoon.
A Winning Tradition: The Big Ten boasts four of the six winningest college football programs in history, including Michigan with its national-best 885 triumphs. Additionally, only eight teams have won 800 or more games in history, giving the Big Ten half of the nation's programs to have reached the milestone. Among the top eight, Nebraska ranks third all-time with 837 wins, Ohio State is fifth with 820 triumphs and Penn State is sixth all-time with 819 victories.