Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 5
Oct. 5, 2009
FACES OF THE BIG TEN: Jim Cordle, Ohio State
After being inspired by the success of a Big Brother/Big Sisters bowling fundraiser, senior offensive lineman Jim Cordle planned and staged a Bowling with the Buckeyes event in June in his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, that raised $18,000 for the Fairfield County Special Olympics. All 42 lanes of the bowling alley were in operation and fans, who sponsored a lane for $200 each, had the opportunity to bowl with OSU players, including Cordle, Thaddeus Gibson, Dane Sanzenbacher, Cameron Heyward, Kurt Coleman, Dan Herron, Doug Worthington, Anderson Russell, Mike Brewster and many more.
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Iowa and Wisconsin Among 13 Unbeatens: Through five weeks of play, the Big Ten is one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences to feature two or more 5-0 teams, as Iowa and Wisconsin have both opened the season with five straight victories. Four unbeatens suffered their first loss last weekend, including Michigan, which fell in overtime at Michigan State. Overall, 13 FBS programs remain undefeated, including eight schools at 5-0. The SEC leads the way with four unbeatens, including Alabama, Auburn and LSU at 5-0 and Florida at 4-0. The Big East also has multiple 5-0 teams in Cincinnati and South Florida while the Big 12 features three teams at 4-0 in Kansas, Missouri and Texas. The remaining unbeatens are Boise State (5-0) of the WAC and Texas Christian (4-0) of the Mountain West.
Breaking Down the Unbeatens: The Hawkeyes are off to a 5-0 start for the first time in head coach Kirk Ferentz' 11 years on campus, as Iowa's last 5-0 start occurred in 1995. The last time the Hawkeyes opened a season with six or more triumphs was in 1985, when the team sprinted to a 7-0 start on the way to the school's last outright Big Ten title. The Badgers have started the season with five straight triumphs for the second time under head coach Bret Bielema and fifth time in the last eight years, including 5-0 starts in 2007, 2005 and 2002 and a 9-0 opening stretch in 2004. Both Iowa and Wisconsin will be tested by 4-1 teams on Saturday. The Hawkeyes will look to remain undefeated with a home matchup against Michigan, while the Badgers will hit the road to face four-time defending conference champion Ohio State.
More Wild Finishes: For the second straight weekend, a number of Big Ten games were determined in the final minutes. Michigan rallied with two touchdowns in the final 4:03 to force overtime on a scoring strike with two seconds left, before Michigan State scored in the extra session for the 26-20 win. Northwestern roared back from a 21-3 deficit at Purdue to take a 27-21 lead on a two-yard scoring run with 2:09 left in the game. The Boilermakers responded by driving to the NU five-yard line before their last pass attempt fell incomplete with three seconds left. Minnesota and Wisconsin combined for 29 fourth-quarter points and the Gophers pulled within 31-28 with a TD at the 2:13 mark. Minnesota forced a punt to get the ball back, but fumbled with 30 seconds left as the Badgers held on for the win.
Road Warriors: Four of last Saturday's five Big Ten matchups resulted in victories for the visiting team, including a triumph by Ohio State at Indiana that marked the Buckeyes' 16th straight road win in conference play. OSU's 16-game Big Ten winning streak away from home is now just one away from equaling the record of 17 straight conference road triumphs set by Michigan from 1988-92. Ohio State, who's last Big Ten defeat away from home occurred at Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005, will look to equal the conference record at Purdue on Oct. 17. In other Big Ten games last weekend, Northwestern won at Purdue, Wisconsin was victorious at Minnesota and Penn State picked up a win at Illinois while Michigan State was the lone team to defend its home field with an overtime triumph over Michigan. The road team has won six of 10 Big Ten games through two weekends, while conference teams are a combined 9-7 on the road in all games.
Big Ten Co-Leaders Meet on Saturday: Ohio State and Wisconsin have both opened with two Big Ten wins to appear atop the conference standings along with Iowa, which remains at 1-0 after wrapping up non-conference play last Saturday. The Buckeyes and Badgers will meet in week three with first place on the line in a battle of the Big Ten's best offense and defense. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten with 35.0 points and 217.2 rushing yards per outing while ranking second with 433.2 yards of total offense per game. Ohio State tops the conference by allowing only 252.6 yards of total offense, 169.2 passing yards and 83.4 rushing yards per contest while rating second by limiting opponents to 11.8 points per game.
Iowa and Wisconsin One Win From Bowl Berth: After improving to 5-0 last weekend, Iowa and Wisconsin are just one victory from bowl eligibility. The Hawkeyes are aiming for their second straight bowl excursion after winning the Outback Bowl after last season. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has guided Iowa to postseason play in seven of the last eight years. Badgers' mentor Bret Bielema is looking for his fourth bowl trip in as many seasons at the helm and eighth consecutive postseason game for the program. With 4-1 marks, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are just two triumphs away from becoming eligible for a spot in a bowl game. The Big Ten has seven bowl tie-ins this season - the Rose Bowl/Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight and Little Caesars Pizza Bowls. 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. 7, 2010, in Pasadena, Calif.
Big Ten Among NCAA Leaders: Several Big Ten players and teams continue to rank among the NCAA statistical leaders. Defensively, Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones ranks second nationally with 12.0 tackles per game, Iowa safety Tyler Sash stands second in the country with 1.0 interceptions per contest and Wisconsin defensive end O'Brien Schofield rates fourth nationally with 2.20 tackles for loss per outing. On the offensive side of the ball, Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker ranks third with 127.8 receiving yards and fifth with 8.6 receptions per game while Badgers' running back John Clay has climbed to fifth in the nation with 116.4 rushing yards per contest. In the team statistics, three Big Ten units still rank among the top 10 in scoring defense in Penn State (7th with 11.6 points per game), Ohio State (8th with 11.8) and Iowa (10th with 13.4). The Buckeyes are also rated ninth in the country by allowing only 252.6 yards of total offense per game and ranked 10th by limiting opponents to 83.4 rushing yards per outing. On special teams, Michigan ranks fifth nationally with 42.9 yards per punt, Indiana rates seventh in the country with 29.1 yards per kickoff return while Minnesota ranks ninth in the nation with 19.0 yards per punt return.
Trophy Game Bye Week: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, no trophies will be on the line this weekend. Last weekend, Michigan State held onto the Paul Bunyan Trophy with a second straight triumph over Michigan. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin resumed the longest rivalry in Football Bowl Subdivision history with their 119th all-time meeting. The Badgers earned their sixth straight victory in the series to maintain possession of Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Big Ten Schedule Announced for Oct. 17: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Oct. 17. Final determination of television for Iowa-Wisconsin and Northwestern-Michigan State will be made following the contests on Oct. 10.
Iowa at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2
More Big Ten Notes: Additional notes were posted last week on the Big Ten football blog at www.bigten.org/blog/fb_blog.html, including Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer being named the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance on Sept. 26, the Indiana-Michigan game becoming the second-most watched Big Ten game ever on ESPN2 and eight conference standouts being chosen as semifinalists for the Campbell Trophy (given to the nation's top football student-athlete).
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 3