Sept. 7, 2009
FACES OF THE BIG TEN
Minnesota wideout Eric Decker is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and was a CoSIDA Academic All-District choice in 2008. Last season, he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and an honorable mention All-America selection. A two-sport athlete, Decker was also named to the 2009 Big Ten All-Tournament team in baseball. The senior wideout volunteers his time to work with the HopeKids organization, has made numerous visits to children's hospitals, has spent time reading to children at local elementary schools and has worked with numerous children's clinics. The Cold Spring, Minn., native already holds a degree in business marketing education.
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Another 10-Win Performance: For the fifth consecutive season, Big Ten teams have produced a non-conference week with at least 10 victories. The Big Ten posted a 10-1 record last week, including a victory by Indiana on Thursday night followed by a 9-1 mark on Saturday. The conference also went 10-1 on Sept. 10, 2007, and produced unblemished weeks in 2008 (11-0 on Sept. 6), 2006 (11-0 on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2) and 2005 (10-0 on Sept. 6).
Different Strokes: Big Ten schools opened their seasons with victories in a variety of fashions. Michigan (31-0 at halftime), Michigan State (28-0), Northwestern (27-7) and Penn State (31-0) jumped out to big halftime leads and coasted. Purdue posted a conference-high 52 points to win a high-scoring shootout. Minnesota earned an overtime road victory while Indiana and Wisconsin picked up narrow wins. Iowa blocked back-to-back field goal attempts with less than seven seconds left in a one-point win, while Ohio State picked off a potential game-tying two-point conversion to secure a close triumph.
A Challenging Week Two: The second weekend of Big Ten non-conference action will feature seven opponents that appeared in bowl games last season and four that received votes in the preseason polls. Three teams that opened the season among the top 25 in the country will take on Big Ten opponents, including No. 4/4 USC (Rose Bowl) travelling to play Ohio State, No. 16/14 Oregon (Holiday Bowl) hosting Purdue and No. 23/23 Notre Dame (Hawaii Bowl) battling Michigan. Central Michigan (Motor City Bowl) also received votes in the preseason polls and will face Michigan State. Other Big Ten schools to challenge bowl teams from a year ago include Indiana hosting Western Michigan (International Bowl), Minnesota taking on Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl) and Wisconsin challenging Fresno State (New Mexico Bowl).
Welcome Receptions: Big Ten receivers took center stage during the opening week of college football, with eight players breaking the 100-yard barrier and five standouts hauling in eight or more passes. Minnesota's Eric Decker, a first-team All-Big Ten returnee, led the way with 183 yards on nine catches during an overtime victory at Syracuse, including 145 yards after halftime and the catch to set up the game-winning field goal. The state of Michigan saw two wideouts track down a pair of touchdown tosses, as the Spartans' Blair White hauled in nine passes for 162 yards against Montana State and the Wolverines' Junior Hemingway caught five passes for 103 yards versus Western Michigan. Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki posted a conference- and career-high 10 receptions for 85 yards against Northern Iowa, including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Other Big Ten wideouts to produce 100-plus yards included Indiana's Tandon Doss (8 for 125 yards), Northwestern's Andrew Brewer (6 for 145 yards, TD), Penn State's Derek Moye (6 for 138 yards, TD), Purdue's Keith Smith (8 for 117 yards, TD) and Wisconsin's Isaac Anderson (3 for 100 yards, TD).
Gophers Debut New Digs: On Saturday, the Golden Gophers will host Air Force at the new TCF Bank Stadium, marking the first time since Nov. 21, 1981 that college football has been played on campus at Minnesota. TCF Bank Stadium is the first Big Ten football stadium built in nearly 50 years, as Penn State's Beaver Stadium and Indiana's Memorial Stadium were both constructed in 1960. TCF Bank Stadium will be just the second new stadium built in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision since 1998, as Akron is also scheduled to open a new stadium this season.
Hope Wins Purdue Debut: The Big Ten's newest head coach picked up a victory in the opening weekend, as Danny Hope led Purdue to a 52-31 triumph over Toledo. Hope becomes just the second head coach at Purdue to win his debut since 1977, joining former Boilermaker head coach Jim Colletto (1991). Hope, an assistant under previous head coach Joe Tiller from 1997-2001, returned to West Lafayette last year as the associate head coach before taking over after Tiller's retirement. Other current Big Ten coaches to win their first game in their first full season on campus include Penn State's Joe Paterno (1966), Ohio State's Jim Tressel (2001), Illinois' Ron Zook (2005), Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (2006), Wisconsin's Bret Bielema (2006), Indiana's Bill Lynch (2007) and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio (2007).
Big Ten Mentors Near Coaching Landmarks: Two Big Ten coaches moved one step closer to coaching landmarks. Ron Zook will serve as Illinois' head coach for the 50th time on Saturday against Illinois State. He has won 14 games over the last two seasons, including taking the Illini to the Rose Bowl following the 2007 campaign. Ohio State's Jim Tressel has served as a head coach in 297 games in 23 years of head coaching. He is set to pace the sidelines for the 300th time as a head coach in the 2009 Big Ten opener against Illinois on Sept. 26.
Iowa Block Party: In Iowa's win over Northern Iowa on Saturday, the Hawkeyes blocked two different field goal attempts on consecutive plays in the final seven seconds to secure the victory. Iowa is the first team in NCAA history to block field goals on back-to-back plays and just the fourth school to block two field goals in the same quarter, a feat also accomplished by USC (1994 and 2008), Wyoming (1995) and Central Michigan (2004) .
Purdue Kicker Dials Long Distance: While Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs only trotted out for one field goal attempt against Toledo, he made the most of it. The sophomore kicker set a Boilermaker record by booting a 59-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. He broke his own school record, a 53-yard field goal against Ohio State last season. Wigg matched the longest field goal in Ross-Ade Stadium and also tied the seventh-longest field goal in Big Ten annals. Michigan State's Morten Anderson set the conference record with a 63-yard field goal in 1981.
First Trophy Game of 2009: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, the first one on the line in 2009 will be the Cy-Hawk Trophy as Iowa faces Iowa State. The Hawkeyes hold a 21-11 advantage in Cy-Hawk games and will look to maintain possession of the trophy after defeating the Cyclones last season.
OTHER TOP PEFORMERS - SEPT. 3 AND 5
IND WR Tandon Doss: Set career high with 125 yards and equaled career best with eight catches (15.6 avg.) in win over Eastern Kentucky.
IOWA TE Tony Moeaki: Hauled in a career-best 10 receptions for 85 yards (8.5 avg.) with the go-ahead TD against Northern Iowa.
MICH QB Tate Forcier: Became third true freshman to start at QB for Michigan in season opener and completed 13-of-20 passes (65.0 pct.) for 179 yards and three TDs and added 37 yards rushing against Western Michigan.
MSU WR Blair White: Posted career-high nine catches for 162 yards and two TDs in victory.
MINN WR Eric Decker: Registered nine receptions for 183 yards (20.3 avg.), including 145 yards after halftime and the catch to set up the game-winning field goal in overtime at Syracuse.
NU WR Andrew Brewer: Caught six passes for career-best 145 yards (24.2 avg.) with a 72-yard TD.
OSU QB Terrelle Pryor: Completed 14-of-21 passes (66.7 pct.) with a TD and added a rushing score.
WIS QB Scott Tolzien: In first career start, connected on 75 percent of his passes (15-of-20) for 257 yards, including an 80-yard scoring strike on the first play of the game against Northern Illinois.
IND CB Ray Fisher: In first game on defense, totaled five tackles (all solo) and forced a fumble at the five-yard line to secure victory.
IOWA LB Pat Angerer: Tied for team lead with 12 tackles (three solo) and added a TFL (-2 yards).
MICH LB Obi Ezeh: Registered team-high eight tackles (four solo) and added 1.5 TFLs (-3 yards), a pass breakup and a forced fumble.
MSU LB Greg Jones: Became first Spartan since 2001 to post double-digit tackles in eight straight games with 14 tackles (five solo) and three TFLs (-16 yards), including 1.5 sacks (-11 yards).
NU LB Quentin Davie: Totaled career-best nine tackles (four solo) with 1.5 TFLs (-1 yard) to help NU hold Towson to 65 rushing yards.
OSU LB Brian Rolle: Set a career high with nine tackles (three solo) with a TFL (-1 yard) and also picked off Navy's two-point conversion attempt and returned it 99 yards for the score to help OSU hold on for the victory.
PSU LB Nate Stupar: Stepped in after an injury to starter Navorro Bowman and set a career high with 12 tackles (eight solo) while adding first career sack (-1 yard) in helping hold Akron to no first downs and eight total yards in first half.
PUR LB Jason Werner: Led team with 13 tackles (11 solo) and added a TFL (-4 yards) vs. Toledo.
WIS S Chris Maragos: Collected nine tackles (five solo), two TFLs (-14 yards), one sack (-9 yards) and a pass breakup with just over one minute remaining to secure the victory over Northern Illinois.
MICH P Zoltan Mesko: Registered five punts for 236 yards (47.2 avg.) with one inside the 20-yard line and a long of 66 yards; became school's career leader with 205 punts and 8,627 yards.
MSU PK Brett Swenson: Connected on both field goal attempts (45, 37 yards) and five PATs to move into third place on MSU all-time scoring list.
PSU P Jeremy Boone: Recorded two punts for 86 yards (43.0 avg.) while placing one inside the 20-yard line against Akron.
PUR PK Carson Wiggs: Set a school record with a 59-yard field goal, the seventh-longest boot in Big Ten history, and added seven PATs against Toledo.