Oct. 4, 2010
Six Big Ten Teams Remain Among Top 25: The Big Ten remains one of two conferences with six teams among the top 25 in either the Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls. The Big Ten and SEC are the only conferences with six teams rated among the top 25 in the coaches poll, while the Big Ten's five teams among the top 25 in the AP rankings rates second only to the SEC. The Big 12 ranks third with four teams among the top 25 in both polls, followed by the Pac-10 (three teams), Mountain West (three in AP, two in coaches), ACC (two) and WAC (two). While Penn State dropped from the top 25 after a loss at Iowa, Northwestern returned to the polls for the first time since Dec. 7, 2008, and is ranked No. 25 by the coaches. The Big Ten's remaining ranked squads all appear among the top 20, led by Ohio State at No. 2 in both polls for the sixth straight week. The Big Ten's other top-20 programs are No. 15/15 Iowa (AP/USA Today), No. 17/16 Michigan State, No. 18/17 Michigan and No. 20/19 Wisconsin.
Big Ten Tied for Conference Lead With Four 5-0 Teams: The Big Ten is one of only two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences to feature four 5-0 teams. Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State have all opened with five straight triumphs. After seven teams suffered their first losses last weekend, including Indiana and Wisconsin, 18 FBS programs remain undefeated, including 11 schools standing at 5-0. The Big 12 leads all conferences with five unbeatens, including four 5-0 squads, followed by the Big Ten's four undefeated squads. The SEC has three schools with perfect 5-0 marks, followed by the Mountain West, Pac-10 and WAC with two unbeatens each.
Another Matchup of Unbeatens: After four of the Big Ten's undefeated teams squared off last Saturday, two more unbeatens will meet next weekend when Michigan hosts Michigan State. The conference's remaining two undefeated squads will both be at home as Ohio State hosts Indiana and Northwestern battles Purdue.
Rare Air: Each of the Big Ten's four undefeated teams is aiming for a 6-0 start. Ohio State has won its first five games for the fifth time in the last 10 seasons and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the fourth time in the last decade, including a 10-0 start in 2007, a perfect 12-0 regular season in 2006 and an unblemished national championship season of 14-0 in 2002. Michigan is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since opening at 11-0 in 2006, and just the fourth time in the last 14 years, including a 5-0 start in 1999 and a perfect 12-0 national title season in 1997. Michigan State is standing at 5-0 for the first time since 1999, when the team opened with six consecutive wins. Northwestern has sprinted to a 5-0 mark for the second time in three seasons, but has not opened a season with six straight triumphs since 1962.
Other Strong Starts: In addition to the Big Ten's undefeated quartet, Iowa and Wisconsin have jumped out to 4-1 starts. The Hawkeyes have won at least four of their first five games for the fifth time in the last nine years under Kirk Ferentz, including winning their first nine games last season. The Badgers have opened with at least four wins in their first five contests for the eighth time in the last nine campaigns, including four of Bret Bielema's five seasons as head coach and 5-1 starts in 2009 and 2007.
Four Teams Just One Win From Bowl Eligibility: After improving to 5-0 last weekend, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State are just one victory from bowl eligibility. The Wolverines rank second in Big Ten history with 39 bowl appearances but are looking for their first bowl trip since winning the Capital One Bowl after the 2007 campaign. Head coach Mark Dantonio is looking to take the Spartans to their 21st postseason contest overall and fourth straight bowl game, which would match the longest streak in school history set from 1987-90. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald is aiming for a third straight postseason game for the Wildcats, which would mark a new program record and would be the ninth bowl game in school annals. Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 41 bowl appearances and is targeting an 11th straight postseason game, which would mark 10 in 10 seasons for head coach Jim Tressel. With 4-1 marks, Iowa and Wisconsin are just two triumphs away from becoming eligible for a spot in a bowl game.
A New Bowl Lineup: The Big Ten has eight bowl tie-ins for the first time in conference history - the Rose Bowl Game/Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Gator Bowl, Insight Bowl, Texas Bowl, Dallas Football Classic and Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. If the Big Ten champion (or co-champion) is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS rankings, then that team will participate in the BCS National Championship Game to be played on Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz.
Sprinting Through the Records Book: In just five games this season, Michigan signal caller Denard Robinson has accumulated a national-best 905 rushing yards, which already ranks as the third-best single-season performance by a quarterback in conference history. Indiana's Antwaan Randle El, the 2001 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as a senior, set the Big Ten record with 1,270 rushing yards in 2000, and followed up with 964 yards on the ground in 2001. Robinson set the conference single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 258 yards at Notre Dame and broke loose for 217 yards last weekend at Indiana, which is tied for the second-best single-game peformance by a Big Ten signal caller with Northwestern's Mike Kafka, who posted 217 yards on the ground at Minnesota in 2008. The Wolverine sophomore has added 1,008 passing yards and now has four of the top-10 single-game offensive outputs in Michigan history.
Tressel One Win From Big Ten Century Club: Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel earned his 99th victory since becoming the Buckeyes head coach on Saturday at Illinois, leaving him one win shy of joining exclusive company. Tressel is now 99-21 in his 10th season in Columbus and has won 82.5 percent of his games. Tressel's winning percentage ranks second among 10-year coaches in conference annals behind only Michigan's Fielding Yost, who won 83.3 percent of his games from 1901 through 1926. With one more victory, Tressel would become the 13th coach in Big Ten history to accumulate 100 or more triumphs while coaching a Big Ten school. With a win over Indiana on Saturday, Tressel would become the first coach in Big Ten history to reach 100 victories in his 10th season and just the third mentor to accomplish that feat in 121 or fewer games. Michigan's Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr both reached the century mark in their 11th season on the sideline. The Wolverine pair of Schembechler and Yost both reached their 100th win in just 119 games, while Minnesota's Henry Williams posted his 100th triumph in 123 contests.
Explosive Offenses and Stingy Defenses: Through five games, several Big Ten offensive and defensive units are ranked among the leaders in the latest NCAA statistical rankings. On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan ranks second in the country with 565.0 total yards per contest and third in the nation with 324.4 rushing yards per game. Indiana rates fourth nationally with 348.2 passing yards per outing and Ohio State ranks eighth in the nation with 44.2 points per game. In addition, three of the six most efficient passing offenses reside in the Big Ten in Northwestern (3rd at 181.3), Michigan (4th at 181.3) and Iowa (6th at 173.9). On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa (4th with 242.2 yards per game) and Ohio State (5th with 242.4 yards per game) both rank among the top five nationally in total defense. The Hawkeyes also rank second in the country by allowing only 10.2 points and 63.2 rushing yards per contest.
Battling for Bunyan: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, two more intraconference trophies will be on the line Saturday when Minnesota and Wisconsin battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe and Michigan and Michigan State compete for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
Paul Bunyan's Axe: The Gophers and Badgers resume the longest rivalry in Football Bowl Subdivision history when the two schools battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. The two teams have played 119 games, beginning in 1890 and played every year consecutively since 1907. The 118-game rivalry between Missouri and Kansas ranked second nationally entering this season. Minnesota and Wisconsin originally played for the Slab of Bacon Trophy, which mysteriously disappeared in the 1940's and was replaced by the axe in 1948. The Badgers hold a 36-23-3 all-time advantage in axe games, including a current six-game winning streak.
Paul Bunyan Trophy: Since 1953, the winner of the Michigan-Michigan State contest has accepted the four-foot wooden statue of Paul Bunyan. The Spartans have won the last two games in the series, but the Wolverines hold a 34-21-2 advantage all-time when playing for the trophy.
Nation's Best Fans: On the first Big Ten football Saturday of the 2010 campaign, conference stadiums were filled to 99 percent capacity with three sellouts and two more nearly full houses. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa all boasted capacity crowds last weekend. The Illini's attendance of 62,870 marked their first sellout since last October. The Hoosiers welcomed a capacity crowd of 52,929, the fourth-largest crowd in school history and first sellout since 2007. Iowa's full house of 70,585 marked the 46th sellout in the last 48 home contests. Meanwhile, Michigan State welcomed 73,108 patrons to the 75,005-seat Spartan Stadium and Minnesota produced an attendance of 49,228 at the 50,805-seat TCF Bank Stadium.
Big Ten Schedule for Oct. 16: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Saturday, Oct. 16. Final determination of television for Minnesota-Purdue will be made following the contests on Oct. 9.
Illinois at Michigan State, Noon ET, Big Ten Network
Arkansas State at Indiana, Noon ET, ESPNU
Minnesota at Purdue, Noon ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Iowa at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (regional); ESPN (outer market)
Ohio State at Wisconsin, 6 p.m. CT, ESPN
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 2
IND QB Ben Chappell: Established school records with 45 completions (tied for third in Big Ten history), 64 attempts and 480 passing yards and added three TD passes against Michigan, producing just the second 400-yard passing game in school history.
IOWA QB Ricky Stanzi: Completed 16 of 22 passes (72.7 pct.) for 227 yards and one TD and added a rushing TD in victory over Penn State.
MSU QB Kirk Cousins: Connected on 20 of 29 throws (69.0 pct.) for 269 yards and three TDs in victory over Wisconsin.
MINN RB DeLeon Eskridge: Produced 22 carries for 119 yards (5.4 avg.) with one TD against NU.
NU QB Dan Persa: Set career highs with 99 rushing yards, 309 passing yards and 408 yards of total offense at Minnesota; Completed 23 of 30 passes (76.7 pct.) with two TDs, including two fourth-quarter drives to rally team from a 28-20 deficit.
ILL S Trulon Henry: Collected first two interceptions of career, the first two-pick game for the Illini since 2004, and added four tackles (one solo).
MSU LB Greg Jones: Posted eight tackles (six solo), including a season-high three TFLs (-7 yards).
OSU DE Nathan Williams: Recorded a career-high nine tackles (three solo) along with two TFLs (-14 yards), including 1.5 sacks (-14 yards), and a pass breakup in victory at Illinois.
WIS DE J.J. Watt: Set career high with 10 tackles (five solo) and added a pass breakup and 2.5 TFLs (-7 yards), including a four-yard sack, at MSU.
ILL P Anthony Santella: Recorded six punts for 282 yards (47.0 avg.), including three inside the 20-yard line and a long of 58 yards against Ohio State.
IND PR/KR Tandon Doss: Returned five kickoffs for 111 yards (22.2 avg.) and one punt for 10 yards against Michigan; Added 221 receiving yards and 21 rushing yards for 363 all-purpose yards.
IOWA P Ryan Donahue: Recorded seven punts for 282 yards (40.3 avg.), with three inside the 20-yard line and a long of 53 yards against Penn State.
NU K Stefan Demos: Connected on a 27-yard field goal with 2:07 left in the game to provide the final margin in a 29-28 victory at Minnesota.