Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Sept. 11
Sept. 11, 2006
Big Ten Boasts Seven Unbeaten Teams: Through two weeks of non-conference play, seven Big Ten programs maintain unblemished records with Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin producing 2-0 marks. The conference has also produced 18 victories through two weeks of action for the second straight season with a mark of 18-4 (.818) this season after opening with a record of 18-3 (.857) in 2005. Over the last decade, the Big Ten has boasted seven or more teams with perfect records entering week three on only four other occasions, including eight unbeatens last season and seven undefeated squads in 2002, 2000 and 1999. Prior to the last two seasons, the Big Ten's best non-conference opening over that time span was a record of 18-5 (.782) in 1999.
A Familiar Sight for 2-0 Teams: Starting the year with two victories is nothing new for the Big Ten programs boasting 2-0 records as all seven schools have started the season with two wins at least once in the previous three seasons. Wisconsin leads the way as the Badgers have opened with a 2-0 mark in each of the last five seasons, including a 5-0 opening stretch last year on the way to a 10-win campaign. Both programs from the state of Indiana have now jumped out to a 2-0 mark in three straight seasons. The Hoosiers won their first three games last season after starting 2-0 in 2004 while the Boilermakers opened at 2-0 last season and with a 5-0 mark in 2004. Michigan State is 2-0 for the second straight season after tearing off four straight triumphs to kick off the 2005 campaign. Iowa and Ohio State stand at 2-0 for the first time since the 2004 season as the Hawkeyes opened at 2-0 that year while the Buckeyes won their opening three contests. Michigan is off to its first 2-0 start since beginning the 2003 campaign with a mark of 3-0.
Winningest Teams in NCAA History Meet in Week Three: Just one week after the Big Ten slate featured four of the top seven all-time winningest programs in NCAA history taking the field together, the two winningest schools in college football history will meet on Saturday when Michigan travels to Notre Dame. The Wolverines rank first in NCAA history with 851 total victories and a winning percentage of .7446 (851-280-36) while the Fighting Irish are second in both categories with 813 triumphs and a winning percentage of .7439 (813-266-42). Michigan, which leads the all-time series 18-14-1, will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak to Notre Dame as its last victory over the Fighting Irish occurred in 2003. Last weekend, Ohio State picked up the 776th win in school history to remain tied for seventh-place all-time (with Alabama) by knocking off Texas, which stands third in NCAA annals with 801 triumphs. Penn State, which ranks just behind the Buckeyes in sixth place all-time with 772 victories, fell at Notre Dame on Saturday.
Big Ten Among National Leaders: Through two weeks of play, the Big Ten features multiple players among the top 10 in the national statistical rankings. Defensively, Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley is tied for the national lead with four sacks through two games and is also tied for fifth with five tackles for loss along with teammate Rondell Biggs and Purdue's Anthony Spencer. Penn State's Dan Connor leads the conference and rates 10th nationally with 12.5 tackles per contest. On the offensive side of the ball, Purdue running back Kory Sheets is tied for first in the country in scoring with seven touchdowns and is averaging 21.0 points per game. Sheets also appears among the top 10 nationally in two other categories, ranking fifth with 187.0 all-purpose yards per contest and 10th with an average of 32.6 yards on kickoff returns. Two other Big Ten running backs are ranked among the top 10 in point production in Minnesota's Alex Daniels and Wisconsin's P.J. Hill, who are tied for ninth with four touchdowns and 12.0 points per outing. Michigan's Mike Hart leads all conference rushers and is rated seventh in the country with 131.0 rushing yards per game. Two Big Ten wideouts appear among the top 10 nationally as Michigan State's Matt Trannon is tied for third with 9.0 receptions per game while Purdue's Dorien Bryant rates 10th with 120.0 receiving yards per contest. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the NCAA rankings with a pass efficiency rating of 194.2. Defensively, Gophers' defensive back Jamal Harris is tied for fifth with two interceptions while on special teams, Wolverines' kicker Garrett Rivas is tied for sixth with four field goals.
NCAA Team Leaders: In the team rankings, four programs appear among the top 10 offensive or defensive leaders in the country. Offensively, Purdue rates fourth among all teams with 49.0 points per game, Michigan State ranks eighth with 493.0 yards of total offense per contest while Michigan appears at No. 10 with 249.0 rushing yards per outing. Defensively, the Wolverines and Hawkeyes are ranked among the top 10 in both rushing and total defense. Michigan has held teams to 29.0 rushing yards (4th) and 187.5 total yards (T6th) per contest while Iowa has limited opponents to 40.0 yards on the ground (8th) and 212.0 total yards (T9th) per game.
Carr and Paterno in Century Club: Michigan's Lloyd Carr picked up a win on Saturday against Central Michigan to improve to 104-34 with the Wolverines. The Michigan mentor is now just four victories behind Penn State's Joe Paterno, who ranks 11th in Big Ten annals with 108 triumphs since Penn State joined the conference in 1993. The Nittany Lion coach stands just one victory behind Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty, who ranks 10th with 109 triumphs. Carr and Paterno became just the 11th and 12th head coaches in the Big Ten century club last season.
A Perfect Coaching Record: Wisconsin's Bret Bielema remains the only Big Ten head coach to never suffer a defeat after he improved to 2-0 with the Badgers victory over Western Illinois on Saturday. The first-year UW leader is the first coach in Wisconsin history to open with two straight triumphs since Dave McClain opened his tenure in Madison with a 4-0 mark in 1978. Bielema is also one of five active conference coaches to begin their tenure at their current school with two wins, including both new coaches last season. In 2005, Indiana's Terry Hoeppner started his Hoosiers career with three victories while Illinois' Ron Zook opened 2-0. The two other active conference mentors to start out at least 2-0 are Michigan State's John L. Smith, who won his first two contests in 2003, and Michigan's Lloyd Carr, who went on to win his first five games with the Wolverines in 1995, the most successful opening stretch of the Big Ten's active coaches.
Big Ten Schedule Set for September 22 and 23: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 -- the first week of Big Ten play and the 111th season overall.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 22
SATURDAY, SEPT. 23
Badgers' Non-Conference Win Streak Hits Double-Digits: With a victory over Western Illinois on Saturday, Wisconsin extended its regular-season winning streak against non-conference teams to 10 straight games, a span of success now entering its third season. The Badgers have actually defeated 11 straight non-conference opponents if you include bowl games, as Wisconsin knocked off Auburn in last season's Capital One Bowl. UW's last regular-season non-conference loss occurred on Sept. 13, 2003, against UNLV.
First Trophy Game of 2006: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, the first one on the line in 2006 will be the Cy-Hawk Trophy as Iowa hosts Iowa State. The Hawkeyes hold a 19-10 advantage in Cy-Hawk games and will look to regain the trophy after suffering a road loss against the Cyclones last season.
MSU Duo Atop Big Ten Career Charts: The Michigan State pair of quarterback Drew Stanton and punter Brandon Fields maintained their spots atop the Big Ten career charts for completion percentage and punting average. Stanton completed 75 percent of his passes (24-of-32) against Eastern Michigan to boost his career completion percentage to 66.1 percent and maintain his lead on Iowa's Chuck Long, who stands second at 65.0 percent (from 1981-85). Stanton also increased his career passing efficiency rating to 146.6, which ranks third behind Ohio State's Joe Germaine (151.0 from 1996-98) and Michigan's Elvis Grbac (148.1 from 1989-92). Fields recorded only one punt against Eastern Michigan, placing a 29-yard boot inside the 20-yard line, but still ranks first with a career punting average of 45.7 per kick, just percentage points ahead of Iowa's Reggie Roby (45.5 from 1979-82).
Other Standouts Near Career Top 10: Three special teams standouts continue to move closer to cracking the career top 10 lists. Michigan's Steve Breaston, who already ranks among the top five in punt returns (4th with 101) and yardage (2nd with 1,274), returned two kickoffs for 44 yards against Central Michigan to boost his career numbers to 63 kickoff returns for 1,586 yards. Fellow Wolverine Garrett Rivas connected on two field goals and scored 10 points to increase his career tally to 49 field goals and 270 points. Indiana's Lance Bennett did not return a kickoff against Ball State but remains just outside the top 10 with 64 returns for 1,566 stripes.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS LAST WEEK