Sept. 16, 2013
B1G MOMENTS IN ROSE BOWL HISTORY - Jan. 1, 1962 - Minnesota 21, UCLA 3: The 1962 Rose Bowl Game was the first national color television broadcast of a college football game. Minnesota, making its second straight appearance in Pasadena, avenged its loss from the previous season. Gopher quarterback Sandy Stephens rushed for two touchdowns and was named the game's most valuable player.
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT - Illinois' Mike Hopkins: Awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1992, Mike Hopkins started in the Illini defensive backfield as a sophomore, junior and senior. His teams went to four consecutive bowl games, capping his career as a captain for the 1991 squad that went to the Sun Bowl. Hopkins was an Academic All-American in 1991 and graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering. He will realize a childhood dream later this month when he climbs aboard a Souyz spacecraft on Sept. 25 for his first spaceflight. Hopkins will rendezvous with the International Space Station and assist with several hundred experiments during his six-month mission. More information on Hopkins and his expedition can be found on nasa.gov.
Start to the Conference Season: The race for the Big Ten Championship begins this weekend with the debut of conference play on Saturday. Purdue travels to Wisconsin for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff, opening the 118th season of Big Ten football. The Sept. 21 debut of conference play is the earliest start to the Big Ten season since the 1996 campaign, when the new year opened with conference matchups. The Big Ten schedule opens in the fourth week of the college football season for the second time in five years, last opening in Week 4 in 2009.
The Road to Indy: The third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will begin at 8:17 p.m. ET on December 7, and will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Representatives from the Legends and Leaders Divisions will meet with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in Pasadena, Calif., in either the Rose Bowl Game or BCS National Championship Game. FOX will serve as the official broadcast partner of the Big Ten Football Championship Games through 2016, and Lucas Oil Stadium will host the title games through 2015.
Back Four More: Wisconsin enters conference play seeking its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. The Badgers shared the title in 2010 before winning the first two Big Ten Football Championship Games in 2011 and 2012 to give them three straight titles for the first time in school history. Wisconsin has won 14 Big Ten Championships and is looking to join Michigan and Ohio State as the third Big Ten program to win four straight conference titles. The Buckeyes were the most recent team to accomplish that feat, earning at least a share of five straight titles from 2005 to 2009.
Where We Rank: Five Big Ten teams appear among the top 25 in the latest Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls. Ohio State improved to 3-0 with a win at California and tops the conference at No. 4 among the media and No. 3 among the coaches. Michigan and Northwestern also won their third straight games to open the season, with the Wolverines ranked No. 15 in the AP and No. 14 in the USA Today polls and the Wildcats rated No. 18 in the media and No. 16 in the coaches votes. Wisconsin is ranked No. 24 by the media and is receiving votes from the coaches, while Michigan State cracks the top 25 for the first time this season at No. 24 in the USA Today poll while receiving votes in the AP rankings. The Spartans appear among the top 25 for the first time since Sept. 23, 2012. Nebraska is also receiving votes in both polls.
Opening Division Play: Saturday's Purdue-Wisconsin contest is the first divisional matchup of the 2013 season. Each school in the two six-team divisions will play the other five schools within its own division and will face three teams from the other, including one guaranteed cross-division matchup. The team or teams with the best overall conference record in each division will earn the division championship. However, divisional record plays an important role in determining the participants for the Big Ten Football Championship Game, serving as the second tiebreaker behind head-to-head matchups.
Three in a Row: Five Big Ten programs have put together three-game winning streaks to start the season, the most undefeated conference squads through three weeks since 2010. Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Ohio State are each 3-0 this year. The quintet is among a group of 17 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country who have started the 2013 campaign with three straight victories. Each Big Ten team will be in action this weekend, looking to conclude non-conference play with a perfect 4-0 record.
History of 3-0: The five conference squads have made it a habit of starting their seasons with extensive winning streaks. Michigan has opened with three straight victories for the fourth time in five seasons, having won at least four straight to open the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Michigan State has strung together three straight victories to start the year for the first time since 2010, while Minnesota is off to a 3-0 start for the second consecutive season. For the fourth time in six seasons, and second straight, Northwestern has put together a three-game season-opening win streak and Ohio State has won three straight games to start the season for the second year in a row.
Land of 10,000 Yards: After passing for more than 200 yards against UCLA last Saturday, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez went over 10,000 yards of total offense in his career, becoming just the ninth Big Ten player in history to reach the landmark. In his first three years in Lincoln, Martinez, who boasts 10,068 yards of total offense in his career, has averaged 3,150 yards of total offense per season and is averaging nearly 210 yards of total offense per game through three contests in 2013.
Offensive Proficiency: Big Ten offenses rank among the nation's best in numerous statistical categories with at least four among the top 30 in scoring, rushing and total offense and pass efficiency. Six conference squads rank among the country's top 30 in scoring, led by Indiana, who is sixth nationally at 50 points per contest, while Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are each averaging better than 41 points per game this season. On the ground, Wisconsin is fifth in the country in rushing offense at 337 yards per game, leading a contingent of six program who rank among the NCAA's top 30. The Hoosiers are ranked eighth in total offense with 571.3 yards per game, while Wisconsin, Northwestern and Penn State are each among the top 30 nationally. Six conference squads are ranked 30th or higher in pass efficiency, with Indiana leading the way with a 185.99 rating, which is 11th in the country. The Hoosiers are joined by Northwestern, Ohio State, Illinois, Penn State and Nebraska among the nation's top 30.
Defensive Prowess: The conference's defensive units have also opened the season in impressive fashion with numerous programs ranked at or near the top of nation's statistical leaders. Michigan State ranks first overall in both total defense and pass efficiency, holding opponents to just 177 yards of total offense and a 68.14 pass efficiency rating. Wisconsin also ranks among the top 10 in both categories, Penn State and Iowa appear among the top 30 in total defense, and Michigan and Indiana appear in the top 30 in pass efficiency defense. Five programs are ranked 17th or higher in total interceptions. Northwestern leads the nation with eight interceptions and Nebraska is second with seven picks. The two teams are joined by Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the category's top 20. Michigan State is fourth in the NCAA in rushing defense, one of five conference squads among the top 16. The Spartans are allowing just 50.3 yards per contest and are joined by Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa among the top 16
Among the Nation's Best: Numerous conference standouts rank among the NCAA's best as a result of their early-season success. Four Big Ten defenders are tied for first nationally with three interceptions this season, including a pair of Nebraska defensive backs Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, along with Michigan's Blake Countess and Northwestern's Ibraheim Campbell. Also on the defensive side, Illinois' Jonathan Brown is averaging 12.7 tackles per game, which is third nationally. Elsewhere, three running backs are among the top 10 in yards per game, led by Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, who is fourth at 159 yards per contest. Penn State's Allen Robinson is averaging 135 receiving yards per game, which is fourth in the country. Indiana signal caller Nate Sudfeld is seventh in pass efficiency with a 195.3 rating, while his 305.7 passing yards per game average is 18th.
Getting Earlier: This week's opening game of the conference season begins a pattern of Big Ten matchups occurring earlier in the season, reflected by the conference's future schedules. The 2014 season is slated to open on Sept. 13 when Penn State travels to face new conference member Rutgers, while the two teams will begin the 2015 Big Ten season on Sept. 19. The 2017 Big Ten schedule, which will feature the second season of the conference's nine-game slate, will open during the first week of the college football season when Indiana hosts Ohio State on Sept. 2.
A Rushing Weekend: Nine Big Ten rushers recorded 100 or more yards on the ground last Saturday, including two each from Indiana and Northwestern. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon led all Big Ten rushers with 193 yards and two touchdowns at Arizona State. Other Big Ten players to surpass the century mark were Ohio State's Jordan Hall (168 yards, three TDs), the Wildcats' pair of Treyvon Green (158 yards, two TDs) and Kain Colter (106 yards, one TD), the Hoosiers' duo of Stephen Houston (155 yards) and Tevin Coleman (129 yards, two TDs), Iowa's Mark Weisman (145 yards), Penn State's Zach Zwinak (128 yards, three TDs) and Michigan's Devin Gardner (103 yards, one TD).