Oct. 11, 2010
Five Big Ten Teams Among Top 25, Including No. 1 Ohio State: Five Big Ten teams are among the top 25 in the latest Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls and the first Harris Interactive poll, with Ohio State appearing in the No. 1 spot in all three rankings. The Buckeyes have given the Big Ten the nation's top-ranked team for the first time since Dec. 2, 2007, when OSU was ranked first in all three polls. Other Big Ten schools among the top 25 include No. 13/11/12 Michigan State (AP/USA Today/Harris), No. 15/14/15 Iowa, No. 18/16/16 Wisconsin and No. -/24/24 Michigan. The Wolverines are just outside the top 25 in the AP rankings. Northwestern received votes in all three polls, while Illinois received votes in the Harris poll. The Big Ten and SEC are the only conferences to feature four or more teams among the top 20 in all three polls.
And Then There Were Two: The Big Ten is one of only two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences to feature two 6-0 teams after Michigan State and Ohio State improved to 6-0 last weekend. Five more FBS teams suffered their first losses last weekend, including Michigan and Northwestern, leaving 13 undefeated programs, including seven schools standing at 6-0. The Big Ten and SEC (Auburn, LSU) are the only conferences with two 6-0 teams and two of five conferences to feature multiple unbeatens. The Big 12 leads all conferences with four unbeatens, all standing at 5-0 (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State). Other undefeated teams include TCU (6-0) and Utah (5-0) of the Mountain West, Boise State (5-0) and Nevada (6-0) of the WAC and Oregon (6-0) of the Pac-10.
Ranked Teams Square Off: For the second time in three weeks, two Big Ten matchups will feature ranked teams squaring off with No. 15/14/15 Iowa (AP/USA Today/Harris) at No. -/24/24 Michigan and No. 18/16/16 Wisconsin hosting No. 1/1/1 Ohio State. On Oct. 2, Michigan State hosted the Badgers and the Hawkeyes battled Penn State in two matchups of nationally ranked programs. Last weekend, the Spartans hosted the Wolverines with both teams appearing among the top 25.
Strength vs. Strength: The two Big Ten matchups featuring nationally ranked teams will be highlighted by some of the nation's top offenses and defenses squaring off on the field. In the Iowa-Michigan game, the Wolverines lead the Big Ten with 297.3 rushing yards (sixth nationally) and 533.7 yards of total offense (third) per game while rating second with 37.3 points per contest (14th). The Hawkeyes defense tops the Big Ten by allowing only 63.2 rushing yards (second) and 10.2 points (first) per game, while ranking second by limiting opponents to 242.2 yards per outing (fourth). In the Ohio State-Wisconsin tilt, the Buckeyes lead the Big Ten by allowing only 237.0 yards per game (third) and rate second by limiting foes to 78.7 rushing yards (fourth) and 13.5 points (sixth) per contest. On the other side of the ball, the Badgers rank second in the conference with 240.8 rushing yards per game (11th), third in the Big Ten with 37.2 points per outing (16th) and fourth in the conference with 450.2 yards of total offense each contest (24th).
Six and Counting: Michigan State and Ohio State both improved to 6-0 last weekend and will look for a 7-0 start on Saturday when the Spartans host Illinois and the Buckeyes face Wisconsin. Ohio State has won its first six games for the fourth time in the last nine years, 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 State is standing at 6-0 for the first time since 1999 and will look for its first 7-0 start since opening with nine straight triumphs in 1966.
Other Strong Starts: In addition to the Big Ten's undefeated duo, four conference teams have suffered only one loss this season. Michigan has won at least five of its first six games for the first time since producing an 11-1 regular season in 2006. Northwestern has been victorious in at least five of its first six contests for the first time since jumping out to a 6-1 record in 2008. Wisconsin has opened the year at 5-1 for the third time in the last four seasons and is seeking to win at least six of its first seven games for the first time since a 12-1 mark in 2006. Iowa has won at least four of its first five games for the fifth time in the last nine years, including winning the opening nine games last season.
Michigan State and Ohio State Reach Bowl Eligibility: After improving to 6-0 last weekend, Michigan State and Ohio State are now bowl eligible. 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. 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.
Seeking the Sixth: Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin all stand at 5-1, just one victory from bowl eligibility. The Wolverines rank second in Big Ten history with 39 bowl appearances and are looking for their first bowl trip since winning the Capital One Bowl after the 2007 campaign. 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. Badgers' mentor Bret Bielema is looking for his fifth bowl trip in as many seasons at the helm and the program's ninth consecutive postseason game. With a 4-1 mark, Iowa is 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.
Welcome to the Club: Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel earned his 100th victory since becoming the Buckeyes head coach on Saturday against Indiana. He is now 100-21 in his 10th season in Columbus to become the 13th coach in history to accumulate 100 or more triumphs while coaching a Big Ten school. Tressel is the first coach in conference annals to reach 100 victories in just 10 seasons 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 Fielding Yost both reached their 100th win in just 119 games, while Minnesota's Henry Williams posted his 100th triumph in 123 contests.
The Nation's Most Efficient Quarterbacks: In the latest NCAA statistics, the Big Ten leads all conferences with six starting quarterbacks ranked among the top 16 nationally in pass efficiency. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi lead the conference and ranks third nationally with a pass efficiency rating of 176.85. Five more Big Ten signal callers rate among the top 16 nationally, including Northwestern's Dan Persa (fourth at 173.27), Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor (sixth at 170.47), Michigan State's Kirk Cousins (ninth at 167.55), Michigan's Denard Robinson (12th at 164.11) and Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien (16th at 160.59). The SEC ranks second with four of the nation's top 16 most-efficient quarterbacks, while no other conference features more than two of the top 16.
Another Single-Day Attendance Record: For the second time this season, Big Ten fans set a single-day attendance record as an average of 88,034 patrons attended contests at five Big Ten stadiums last Saturday. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all produced sellouts while Northwestern set a season high in attendance. The previous record for average attendance in five games was 87,620, set on Oct. 28, 1995. Earlier this season, the Big Ten set a single-day attendance record with an average of 78,844 fans in eight home contests on Sept. 18.
Three-Million-Fan March: With four more sellouts last Saturday, the conference surpassed the three-million mark in total attendance for the 46th straight season. Big Ten stadiums have welcomed 3,011,923 fans through the turnstiles in 41 total games, an average of 73,461 patrons per contest and 20 sellouts. The Big Ten is on pace to break the single-season record for average attendance, set in 2005 when an average of 72,566 patrons attended conference games. The Big Ten is also on pace to average more than 70,000 fans per game for just the eighth time in conference annals and the fifth time in the last six years.
Trophy Bye Week: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, no intraconference trophies will be on the line next Saturday. Trophy games return on Oct. 23 when Iowa and Wisconsin battle for the Heartland Trophy and Minnesota and Penn State compete for the Governor's Victory Bell. Last weekend, the Gophers and Badgers continued the longest rivalry in Football Bowl Subdivision history when the two schools played for the 120th time, with Wisconsin earning its seventh straight win in the series to hold onto Paul Bunyan's Axe. Michigan and Michigan State played for the Paul Bunyan Trophy with the Spartans earning their third straight victory in the series.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 9
MSU QB Kirk Cousins: Completed 18 of 25 throws (72.0 pct.) for 284 yards and one TD at Michigan.
NU QB Dan Persa: Surpassed 300 passing yards for third time this season after completing 30 of 41 passes (73.2 pct.) for 305 yards and added 24 rushing yards and a TD against Purdue.
PUR QB Rob Henry: In first career start at QB, led Purdue to victory at Northwestern with a career-high 132 yards on 16 carries (8.3 avg.), including a seven-yard TD with 3:54 left for a 20-17 win.
ILL LB Nate Bussey: Matched career high with eight tackles (four solo) and returned an interception 16 yards for a TD in Illinois' first win at Penn State.
MINN LB Gary Tinsley: Registered a career-high 14 tackles (six solo) with one TFL (-1 yard) and a pass breakup against Wisconsin.
OSU CB Devon Torrence: Intercepted a pass and added a pass breakup and a TFL (-4 yards) to help hold Indiana to 141 passing yards, more than 200 below the Hoosiers' season average.
PSU LB Chris Colasanti: Racked up a career-high 18 tackles (10 solo), the most by a Big Ten player this season and most by a PSU defender since 2007, and added 0.5 TFLs against Illinois.
PUR LB Joe Holland: Posted a game-high 12 tackles (nine solo) with two TFLs (-5 yards), including a four-yard sack, in a victory at Northwestern.
WIS LB Mike Taylor: Collected seven tackles (five solo), including a career-high three TFLs (-6 yards), to help hold Minnesota to 96 rushing yards.
MSU K Dan Conroy: Connected on both field goal attempts (38, 28 yards) and four extra points.