Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Sept. 12

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (right) ranks among the nation's top 10 in pass efficiency.

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (right) ranks among the nation's top 10 in pass efficiency.

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Sept. 12, 2011

Quick Out of the Gate: Through two weeks of the 2011 season, seven Big Ten teams maintain a perfect record - four teams from the Legends Division and three from the Leaders Division. Legends Division members Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern all boast 2-0 marks, while the Leaders Division trio of Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin each have unblemished records through their first two games of the 2011 campaign. It is the eighth time in the last 11 seasons the conference has boasted seven or more teams with unblemished records heading into the third week of the season. In addition, the Big Ten has now produced at least 17 combined wins through the first two weeks of action for the seventh straight season.

Nothing New at 2-0: Conference teams are accustomed to quick starts to the new season, and this year is proving to be no exception. Wisconsin starts a season with a 2-0 mark for the 10th consecutive campaign, while Nebraska starts 2-0 for the seventh straight season. Northwestern jumps out to 2-0 for the fifth straight year and for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Michigan has won its first two games for the third straight year, while in-state foe Michigan State is 2-0 for the second consecutive season. Illinois jumps out to a 2-0 start this season, the first time since 2005, and Ohio State jumps out to a 2-0 start for the fourth time in the last six seasons. 

Where We Rank: Seven Big Ten squads are receiving votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches Polls. The Big Ten is one of only three conferences with two or more teams ranked in the Top-10 and four or more Top-25 teams. Wisconsin leads the conference contingent at No. 7 in the AP poll and No. 8 in the USA Today poll, while Nebraska is ranked 10th by both polling services. Michigan State appears at No. 15 in the AP and USA Today ranks, while Ohio State is No. 16 in the coaches poll and No. 17 in the AP poll. Michigan, the first team outside the Top 25 in both polls, Northwestern and Penn State are also receiving votes this week.

Ranking Among the National Leaders: Numerous Big Ten standouts rank among the national leaders in several statistical categories. Three Big Ten quarterbacks rank among the top 10 in passing efficiency after leading their teams to 2-0 starts. Wisconsin's Russell Wilson ranks second (237.64 - 2 games), Michigan's Denard Robinson seventh (194.13 - 1 game) and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase eighth (192.25 - 2 games), making the Big Ten the only conference in the nation with three quarterbacks among the nation's top 10 in passing efficiency. In addition, Robinson leads the nation in total offense following his 446-yard performance against Notre Dame. Two Big Ten standouts appear in the top 10 in scoring with Wisconsin's Montee Ball ranking second with 18.0 points per game and Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez ranking sixth with an average of 15.0 points per game.  The conference also boasts a pair of top-10 talents in kickoff yardage with Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah second in the country with a 42.2 average, while Penn State's Chaz Powell ranks fourth in the NCAA with an average of 40.67. Both have returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season.

Rushing For 100: In Week 2, seven Big Ten rushers eclipsed the century mark, including four quarterbacks. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez led all rushers with 166 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State. Iowa's Marcus Coker totaled 140 yards and found the end zone twice against Iowa State, while Wisconsin's Montee Ball scored twice with 118 yards on the ground. Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray rushed for 110 yards while Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter rushed for 109 yards and three scores. Michigan's Denard Robinson totaled 108 yards with a touchdown, while Illinois' Troy Pollard rushed for 101 yards and a score.

Dual Threats: Four Big Ten signal callers not only passed for 100 or more yards, but rushed for 100 as well. Michigan's Denard Robinson threw for 338 yards and rushed for 108 yards, accounting for 446 of the Wolverines' 452 yards against Notre Dame. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez passed for 219 yards, adding 166 on the ground. Minnesota's MarQueis Gray finished with 211 yards through the air and 110 rushing yards. Northwestern's Kain Colter rushed for 109 yards while throwing for 104 more.

Record Crowds: A record-setting crowd of 114,804 was in attendance to see Michigan knock off Notre Dame, 35-31, in the first night game ever at Michigan Stadium. The attendance marked the largest crowd ever to watch a college or professional football game and shattered the school record of 113,090, set in Michigan’s 2010 opener against Connecticut. Behind the record-setting crowd at Michigan Stadium, nearly 724,000 fans came out to 10 Big Ten stadiums on Saturday, marking the second-straight weekend of 700,000-plus in total attendance at Big Ten games. Already this season, more than 1.4 millions fans have flocked to Big Ten stadiums.

Climbing Up the Charts: A pair of Big Ten student-athletes continued their ascent up the Big Ten's career charts following their performances on Saturday. Minnesota kick returner Troy Stoudermire became the Big Ten's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage, taking over the all-time lead with 3,066 yards after totaling 65 return yards against New Mexico State. He surpassed the previous all-time high of 3,025 set by Wisconsin's David Gilreath from 2007-10. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson climbed to third on the all-time list for rushing yards by a quarterback. With 108 yards rushing against Notre Dame, Robinson has 2,207 yards and trails Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (3,895 yards) and Illinois' Juice Williams (2,557) on the all-time list.

Total Defensive Efforts: A trio of Big Ten teams held their opponents to a field goal or less on Saturday, achieving significant defense performances along the way. Michigan State and Wisconsin each held its opponent scoreless, while a field goal is all that kept Illinois' defense from a scoreless outing. Michigan State's defense allowed just one first down to Florida Atlantic in posting its first shutout since 2008. Wisconsin held Oregon State to just 23 yards rushing en route to a 35-0 victory. The Illini defense held South Dakota State to just 96 yards of total offense, the first time since 1998 that Illinois has held an opponent to less than 100 total offensive yards.
 
Game Tracker: Times and television designations have been set for games on Saturday, Sept. 24. The entire week's schedule can be found below:

Noon ET/11 a.m. CT
San Diego State at Michigan, BTN
Louisiana Monroe at Iowa, BTN
Eastern Michigan at Penn State, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU*
Central Michigan at Michigan State, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU*
*network designations announced after games of Sept. 17

3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
Colorado at Ohio State, ABC (ESPN2 in outer market)
Western Michigan at Illinois, BTN
South Dakota at Wisconsin, BTN

7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
North Dakota State at Minnesota, BTN
Indiana at North Texas State, ESPN3

7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT
Nebraska at Wyoming, Versus