Sept. 6, 2010
Strong Starts: Big Ten teams opened their seasons with nine victories in 11 games, including three road triumphs, the most of any Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifying conference. Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin all hit the road to pick up season-opening triumphs, while Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State were all victorious at home. Seven Big Ten victors surpassed the 30-point mark on offense, led by a 51-point explosion by the Hoosiers and offensive attacks surpassing 40 points for the Buckeyes (45 points), Nittany Lions (44) and Badgers (41). On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes, Wolverines and Buckeyes each held their opponents to 10 points or less while five Big Ten schools held their foes to under 100 yards rushing.
Running Wild: Nine Big Ten players surpassed the century mark in rushing during the opening week of play, led by a quarterback from Michigan and six standouts in their first or second years on the field. Wolverines sophomore Denard Robinson set a school record for rushing yards by a signal caller with 197 yards on the ground against Connecticut. Minnesota sophomore Duane Bennett broke loose for 187 yards at Middle Tennessee State, while Michigan State boasted a pair of 100-yard rushers in freshman Le'Veon Bell (141 yards) and sophomore Edwin Baker (117). Other Big Ten running backs to crack the 100-yard mark were Wisconsin junior and reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay (123), Illinois junior Mikel Leshoure (112), Iowa sophomore Adam Robinson (109), Ohio State senior Brandon Saine (103) and Indiana sophomore Darius Willis (102).
Dual Threat: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson broke loose for 197 rushing yards and 186 passing yards against Connecticut, marking just the second game in Big Ten history where the signal caller surpassed 180 yards both rushing and passing. Indiana's Antwaan Randle El is the only other player to accomplish that feat, compiling 210 rushing yards and 263 passing yards against Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2000. Robinson's 197-yard rushing effort ranks sixth in Big Ten history and marked the third-best rushing effort by a quarterback since Randle El moved onto the NFL after the 2001 season. Fellow Hoosier Kellen Lewis compiled 199 rushing yards against Akron in 2007, while Northwestern's Mike Kafka established the Big Ten record with 217 rushing yards against Minnesota in 2008.
New Quarterbacks Running and Throwing: Five Big Ten quarterbacks made their first starts last week and produced impressive numbers both rushing and passing. Michigan sophomore Denard Robinson set school records with 383 yards of total offense and 197 rushing yards by a quarterback to lead the Wolverines to a victory over Connecticut. Northwestern junior Dan Persa led the Wildcats to a road victory at Vanderbilt by completing 19-of-21 throws for 222 yards and three touchdowns while adding 82 rushing yards. Purdue junior Robert Marve, who did not play last year after transferring, completed 31-of-42 passes for 220 yards and added a 23-yard touchdown run to pull his team within 20-12 in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame. Illinois and Penn State both started freshmen behind center on Saturday. PSU's Rob Bolden became the first true freshman to start a season opener for head coach Joe Paterno and completed 20-of-29 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Youngstown State. Redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase started at quarterback for the Illini and posted 157 yards of total offense, including 76 yards rushing and a touchdown pass.
Chasing Big Ten Records: Three Big Ten standouts continued to move up the charts in career statistical categories, while one conference player built on his record numbers. Wisconsin senior David Gilreath returned two kickoffs for 43 yards at UNLV to boost his Big Ten career record of kickoff returns to 110, while increasing his career yardage total to 2,409, just 167 yards away from passing Michigan State's Derrick Mason (2,575 yards from 1993-96) for the top spot. In only his third year on campus, Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire is just behind Gilreath in both categories. The junior had three kickoff returns for 78 yards at Middle Tennessee State to climb to sixth all-time with 89 returns, while remaining fourth in Big Ten history with 2,218 yards. Fellow Gopher Adam Weber posted 134 yards of total offense at Middle Tennessee State to move up to 10th in Big Ten annals with 9,089 yards, remaining among the top 10 in total offensive plays, passing attempts and completions. On the defensive side of the ball, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan forced another fumble at Notre Dame and now has 10 forced fumbles in his career, moving into a tie for fourth place in Big Ten history.
The Nation's Best Fans: Big Ten teams averaged 83,490 fans for six home contests on Sept. 2 and 4, including four sellouts and a new national attendance mark. The renovated Michigan Stadium welcomed 113,090 fans on Saturday, the largest attendance ever for a professional or college football game. The previous Michigan Stadium attendance record was set in 2003, when 112,118 fans packed the stadium against Ohio State. Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State also produced sellouts in their season openers, while Penn State played its first 2010 game at Beaver Stadium in front of 101,213 fans.
Three Straight Weeks of Non-Conference Trophy Games: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, three non-conference trophies will be featured in the first three weekends of action. Last weekend, Notre Dame defeated Purdue to maintain possession of the Shillelagh. On Saturday, Iowa faces Iowa State for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The Hawkeyes hold a 22-11 advantage in Cy-Hawk games, including victories in each of the last two meetings. On the third weekend, Michigan State will battle the Fighting Irish for the Megaphone Trophy.
More Big Ten Notes: Additional Big Ten notes have been posted on the Big Ten football blog at www.bigten.org/blog/football, including Michigan's Denard Robinson being named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week, former football standouts named among the top 50 players in Big Ten history according to the Big Ten Network's new series, "Big Ten Icons," and more and the announcement of football divisions beginning with the 2011 season and the 2011 and 2012 conference schedules.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - SEPT. 2-4
IND RB Darius Willis: Cracked century mark for fourth time in career with 102 yards on 14 carries (7.3 avg.) and two TDs, including a 49-yarder.
IOWA RB Adam Robinson: Tallied a career-high three rushing TDs and recorded 152 all-purpose yards, including 109 rushing yards on 24 carries (4.5 avg.) and three catches for 43 yards (14.3 avg.).
MINN RB Duane Bennett: Set career highs with 30 carries for 187 yards (6.2 avg.) and also added three catches for eight yards (2.7 avg.).
NU QB Dan Persa: In first college start, led team to a road win at Vanderbilt by completing 19-of-21 passes (90.5 pct.) for 222 yards and three TDs, while adding 82 rushing yards on 17 carries (4.8 avg.).
OSU QB Terrelle Pryor: Completed 17-of-25 passes (68.0 pct.) for 247 yards and three TDs.
PUR RB Dan Dierking: Set career highs in rushing attempts, yards and receptions, totaling 56 yards on nine carries (6.2 avg.) and adding 28 yards on five receptions (5.6 avg.) and a 15-yard kickoff return.
WIS RB John Clay: Posted seventh straight game of 100-plus rushing yards with 123 yards on 17 carries (7.2 avg.) and two TDs at UNLV.
IND LB Tyler Replogle: Registered team-high 10 tackles (five solo) and an interception vs. Towson.
IOWA DT Karl Klug: Posted six tackles (three solo), including 1.5 TFLs (-4 yards), against Eastern Illinois.
MICH LB Obi Ezeh: Recorded a team-high nine tackles (six solo) and recovered a Connecticut fumble near the goal line in third quarter.
MSU LB Greg Jones: Collected nine tackles (two solo), a TFL, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.
MINN LB Mike Rallis: Recorded seven tackles (four solo), 1.5 TFLs (-8 yards) and first career pick.
PSU LB Chris Colasanti: In first career start, racked up a career-high 13 tackles (six solo) and 0.5 TFLs.
PUR DE Ryan Kerrigan: Posted a team-high seven tackles (four solo) along with a forced fumble, 2.5 TFLs (-6 yards) and a two-yard sack while teaming with CB Charlton Williams for first career safety.
WIS DE J.J. Watt: Collected four tackles (two solo), 0.5 TFLs (-1 yard), three pass breakups and forced a fumble that was returned for a TD at UNLV.
ILL K Derek Dimke: Connected on both field goal attempts (21, 52) against Missouri, including a career-long 52-yarder that equaled the sixth-longest kick in school history and longest since 1987.
IND P Chris Hagerup: Registered five punts for 214 yards (42.8 avg.) with two inside the 20-yard line and a long of 53 yards against Towson.
MSU P Aaron Bates: Posted seven punts for 312 yards (44.6 avg.) with a long of 57 yards.
MINN KR Troy Stoudermire: Returned three kickoffs for 78 yards (26.0 avg.) at Middle Tennessee State.
NU P Brandon Williams: In first college game, recorded five punts for 212 yards (42.4 avg.) with three inside the 20-yard line and a long of 59 yards.
PSU K Collin Wagner: Hit all three field goal attempts (44, 49, 48), including a career-long 49-yarder, and four PATs against Youngstown State.
WIS K Philip Welch: Connected on both field goal attempts (20, 33) and five PATs at UNLV.