Sept. 20, 2010
Big Ten Pick Six: For the first time since the 2004 season, six Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 25 of both the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today coaches polls. The last time six Big Ten programs were rated among the top 25 in either the AP or USA Today polls was on Oct. 24, 2005. The last time six Big Ten programs were ranked among the top 25 in both polls was on Sept. 13, 2004. In the latest rankings, the Big Ten and SEC lead all conferences with six teams ranked among the top 25 in both. Ohio State continued to top all conference teams at No. 2 in both the AP and coaches polls, followed by No. 11/10 Wisconsin (AP/USA Today), No. 18/18 Iowa, No. 21/22 Michigan, No. 23/20 Penn State and No. 25/23 Michigan State. Northwestern is also receiving votes in both polls.
Big Ten One of Only Three Conferences With Six Unbeatens: Through three weeks of play, the Big Ten is one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences to feature six or more undefeated teams. Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin have all opened with three straight triumphs, while Indiana stands at 2-0. Overall, 34 FBS programs are undefeated, including 29 schools standing at 3-0. The Big 12 and SEC top the country with seven unbeatens each, followed by the Big Ten with six schools with perfect records. The Pac-10 ranks fourth with four unbeatens while the WAC (three teams), ACC (two), Big East (two) and Mountain West (two) also boast multiple undefeated programs.
Breaking Down the Unbeatens: Each of the Big Ten's six undefeated teams this year has started with three straight wins in at least one of the previous three seasons. Wisconsin leads the way as the Badgers have opened with a 3-0 mark in each of the last seven seasons, including each of Bret Bielema's five seasons as head coach, a span that features 5-0 starts in 2009 and 2007. Michigan has opened the season with three consecutive victories for the second straight season under head coach Rich Rodriguez, including a 4-0 opening stretch last season. The last time the Wolverines opened with three or more wins in back-to-back years was in 1996 and 1997. Northwestern is off to a 3-0 start for the second time in the last three years under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, including sprinting to a 5-0 mark in 2008. Michigan State has jumped to a 3-0 record for the first time since a 4-0 opening run in 2007, the first season under head coach Mark Dantonio. Ohio State has also won its first three contests for the first time since 2007, when the Buckeyes sprinted to a 10-0 record. Head coach Jim Tressel has guided the Buckeyes to at least a 3-0 start in six of his 10 seasons on the sidelines. Indiana is off to a 2-0 start for the seventh straight season, including 3-0 marks in two of the first three years under head coach Bill Lynch (2009, 2007).
Still Running: Six more Big Ten players cracked the 100-yard rushing mark last weekend, giving the conference 23 100-yard efforts by 13 different players through 32 games so far this season. In comparison, Big Ten players produced only 11 contests of 100 or more rushing yards by 10 players through 32 games last season. Illinois' Mikel Leshoure led the way in week three with 180 rushing yards against Northern Illinois, his third effort of 100 yards or more this season. Michigan's Denard Robinson and Wisconsin's John Clay also cracked the 100-yard mark for the third time this year. The Wolverine quarterback produced 104 yards against Massachusetts and the Badger running back racked up 123 yards versus Arizona State. Four Big Ten rushers have produced two 100-yard outings, including Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, who racked up 114 yards against Notre Dame last weekend. Michigan running back Michael Shaw (126 yards) and Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (115) also joined the 100-yard club last weekend.
Catching On: In addition to the six 100-yard rushing efforts last weekend, six Big Ten wide receivers surpassed the 100-yard mark through the air on Saturday. Indiana wideout Damarlo Belcher hauled in 10 passes for 135 yards at Western Kentucky while Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks caught seven balls for 131 yards. Other Big Ten players to go over 100 receiving yards last weekend were Michigan's Darryl Stonum (121 yards), Purdue's Cortez Smith (117), Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (114) and Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham (101). Only three Big Ten pass-catchers produced over 100 receiving yards in the first two weekends of action, including Illinois' A.J. Jenkins (114 in week two) and the Ohio State duo of Dane Sanzenbacher (113 in week one) and DeVier Posey (105 in week two).
Big Ten Coaches Near Record Wins: Four Big Ten head coaches are nearing landmark victories, led by Penn State's Joe Paterno, who can reach the 150-win mark since joining the conference with a victory over Temple on Saturday. Paterno has built an overall record of 149-63 over the last 17-plus seasons since the Nittany Lions began conference play in 1993. He would become just the fifth coach in Big Ten history to reach 150 triumphs while coaching in the conference, joining Ohio State's Woody Hayes (205 wins), Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (199) and Michigan's Bo Schembechler (194) and Fielding Yost (165). Paterno is one of just 12 head coaches in conference history to collect 100 wins, and Ohio State's Jim Tressel could join that club this season. Tressel has produced a 97-21 mark with the Buckeyes in his nine-plus seasons on the sideline. Indiana's Bill Lynch is also three shy of the century mark, with 97 victories in his career with the Hoosiers and three other institutions over the last 17-plus years. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is just five triumphs away from hitting 100 for his career, as he has won 95 contests in 14-plus seasons with the Hawkeyes and Maine.
Record-Setting Attendance: Big Ten fans set a single-day record for attendance on Saturday when an average of 78,844 patrons passed through the turnstiles for eight contests, including four packed houses. The previous record for an eight-day weekend was set on Sept. 3, 2005, when an average of 76,475 fans attended eight conference stadiums. Every Big Ten home game last weekend featured crowds of 50,000 fans or more, including sellouts at Michigan State (78,411), Wisconsin (81,332), Ohio State (105,075) and Michigan (110,187) and 100,610 patrons in attendance for Penn State.
Big Ten Schedule for Oct. 2: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Saturday, Oct. 2. Final determination of television for Northwestern-Minnesota and Penn State-Iowa will be made following the contests on Sept. 25.
Ohio State at Illinois, 11 a.m. CT, Big Ten Network
Northwestern at Minnesota, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2
Wisconsin at Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (regional); ESPN (outer market)
Michigan at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Penn State at Iowa, 7 p.m. CT, ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - SEPT. 18
ILL RB Mikel Leshoure: Became first Illini with four straight games of 100 or more rushing yards since 1997 with 180 yards on a career-high 24 carries (7.5 avg.), including a 29-yard TD to seal victory over Northern Illinois with 1:43 left in game.
MICH RB Michael Shaw: Established career high with 126 yards on 12 carries (10.5 avg.) and scored three TDs against Massachusetts.
NU QB Dan Persa: Set career bests for completions, passing yards and total offense after completing 24 of 32 passes (75.0 pct.) for 307 yards and a TD and adding 34 yards on nine carries (3.8 avg.) with another TD in victory at Rice.
OSU QB Terrelle Pryor: Set school record with 16 consecutive completions against Ohio, connecting on 22 of 29 passes (75.9 pct.) for 235 yards and two TDs while adding a rushing TD.
PUR WR Cortez Smith: Hauled in five catches for a career-high 117 yards and two TDs, including a 76-yard score against Ball State.
WIS TE Lance Kendricks: Tied career best with seven receptions for a career-high 131 yards (18.7 avg.), including a 10-yard TD for a 13-10 lead over Arizona State just 10 seconds before halftime.
ILL LB Martez Wilson: Collected game-high 11 tackles (four solo) with 1.5 TFLs (-5 yards) and 0.5 sacks (-3 yards) against Northern Illinois.
IND LB Tyler Replogle: Posted game-high nine tackles (six solo) and added 1.5 TFLs (-3 yards).
IOWA LB Tarpinian: Registered 12 tackles (seven solo) with a 10-yard sack and forced fumble.
MSU CB Chris L. Rucker: Recorded a career-high 12 tackles (eight solo) and added a TFL (-1 yard), two pass breakups and a forced fumble vs. Notre Dame.
MINN S Kyle Theret: Registered seven tackles (all solo) with an interception and forced fumble.
PSU DB Stephon Morris: Set career high with nine tackles (three solo) to lead Penn State to shutout of Kent State, helping hold visitors to 58 rushing yards.
PUR LB Dwayne Beckford: Recorded a career-high 11 tackles (seven solo), including 0.5 sacks (-2 yards), in victory over Ball State.
WIS DE Louis Nzegwu: Established career highs with seven tackles (six solo) and two TFLs (-9 yards), including a six-yard sack vs. Arizona State.
ILL K Derek Dimke: Connected on both field goal attempts, from 25 and 32 yards out, and two PATs.
IND K Mitch Ewald: In first game as starter, hit all five of his extra point attempts and connected on a 28-yard field goal at Western Kentucky.
IOWA P Ryan Donahue: Booted seven punts for 328 yards (46.9 avg.), including a long of 60 yards, and placed four punts inside the 20-yard line.
NU K Stefan Demos: Connected on all three field goal attempts, from 42, 28 and 21 yards, and added three extra points at Rice.
PUR K/P Carson Wiggs: Connected on lone field goal attempt from 23 yards and booted three punts for 117 yards (39.0 avg.), including a career-long 59-yarder against Ball State.
WIS DB Jay Valai: Blocked an Arizona State extra point attempt with 4:09 left in the game to give the Badgers a 20-19 victory.