Sept. 19, 2011
Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches Polls, released Sunday. The Big Ten is tied for the conference lead with five top-25 squads and is one of only three conferences nationally with two or more teams ranked in the top-10 of both polls. Wisconsin is the top-ranked Big Ten team, checking in at No. 6 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the USA Today poll. Nebraska is the conference's other top-10 team, appearing at No. 9 in both polls. Michigan cracks the Top 25 for the first time this season, coming in at No. 21 in the USA Today poll and No. 22 in the AP ranks. Michigan State is No. 23 in the USA Today rankings, while Illinois is ranked 24th by the AP. Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State are among the other teams also receiving votes this week.
Four are Three-for-Three: Four Big Ten teams remain undefeated through three weeks of play, making the Big Ten one of only four conferences in the nation boasting four or more teams with unblemished records. Legends Division members Michigan and Nebraska enjoy 3-0 records, while Leaders Division teams Illinois and Wisconsin boast 3-0 marks, with each squad owning a win over Notre Dame or a team from the Pac-12. Last Saturday, Illinois knocked off nationally ranked Arizona State, while Nebraska defeated Washington for the second time in the calendar year. In Week 2, Michigan knocked off Notre Dame and Wisconsin defeated Oregon State.
Four of a Kind: The four undefeated Big Ten teams makes the conference one of only four in the nation with four or more teams with unblemished records. Overall, 33 teams in the football bowl subdivision can claim perfect marks through college football's first three weeks. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC are the only other conferences in the nation with four or more teams without a loss in 2011.
Home Teams go Undefeated Last Weekend: Each Big Ten team protected its home turf this past weekend with teams compiling a 7-0 mark at home. Through three weeks, Big Ten teams have combined for a 23-3 mark in conference stadiums this season. In Week 3, Illinois defeated nationally ranked Arizona State, while Indiana knocked off South Carolina State in Bloomington. Iowa rallied with 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat visiting Pittsburgh, while Michigan handled in-state foe Eastern Michigan. Minnesota defeated visiting Miami (Ohio), Nebraska knocked off Washington in the teams' third meeting this calendar year, and Purdue held Southeast Missouri scoreless in Saturday's win.
Century-Mark Sprinters: Five Big Ten players surpassed the 100-yard mark last weekend, the second week in a row five or more conference rushers have raced past the milestone. For the second straight week, Michigan's Denard Robinson cracked the century mark, leading the Big Ten in rushing this week with 198 yards on the ground. That marks the eighth-most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game in conference history. Robinson now owns five of the top-10 rushing performances by a quarterback on the conference's all-time single-game list. Minnesota's MarQueis Gray recorded more than 100 yards for the second week, totaling 171 yards to lead the Gophers to their first win of the season. Nebraska's Rex Burkhead rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while Michigan's Vincent Smith needed just nine carries to total 118 yards. Indiana's D'Angelo Roberts became the first Hoosier to rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season with 102 last week.
Trio in the 300-Club: Three Big Ten signal callers threw for more than 300 yards last week, two in winning performances. Iowa's James Vandenberg threw for 399 yards, the seventh-most in school history, and three touchdowns in the Hawkeyes come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. Wisconsin's Russell Wilson finished with 347 yards through the air and three touchdown passes, the second week he's thrown for three scores, in a win over Northern Illinois. Finally, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins completed 34 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans in a road setback to Notre Dame.
Big Days for Big Ten's Receiving Threats: Seven Big Ten wide receivers finished with 100 or more receiving yards on Saturday, the highest number of conference wideouts to go for over 100 yards receiving in a week this season. Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham led all receivers with 158 yards on 12 catches against Notre Dame. A pair of Hawkeye receivers went over the century mark as Keenan Davis and Marvin McNutt finished with 129 and 112 yards, respectively. Penn State's Derek Moye also recorded 112 yards receiving, while Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert had 108 yards on six catches. Illinois' A.J. Jenkins (103 yards) and Indiana's Duwyce Wilson (101 yards) recorded six catches each to round out the 100-yard receiving class this week.
Game Tracker: Times and TV designations have been set for games on Oct. 1.
Noon ET/11 a.m. CT
Penn State at Indiana, ESPNU
Northwestern at Illinois, ESPN2
Minnesota at Michigan, BTN
3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
Michigan State at Ohio State, ABC (regional), ESPN (outer market)
8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
Notre Dame at Purdue, ESPN
Nebraska at Wisconsin, ABC