Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 12
Oct. 12, 2009
FACES OF THE BIG TEN: Sherrick McManis, Northwestern
Northwestern defensive back Sherrick McManis is a 2009 team co-captain and a member of the Wildcats' 10-player Leadership Council. He has participated in a number of community outreach programs during his four-year career, and was one of the team's most active participants during NU's 2008-09 winter and spring quarters. McManis was part of a wellness initiative at St. Joan of Arc School last winter, helping educate children on how to live a healthy lifestyle through exercise and proper nutrition. He also is an active participant in the annual Misericordia Candy Days and Special Olympics, visits numerous schools and assists with clinics.
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
A Deep Conference: The Big Ten leads all Football Bowl Subdivision conferences with seven teams having produced at least four victories through six weeks of play. Iowa leads the way at 6-0, while Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin stand at 5-1 and Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern are 4-2 overall. The ACC and Big 12 rank second nationally with six teams each boasting four or more triumphs, while the Big East and SEC each feature five teams with four or more victories.
And Then There Was One: With a victory over Michigan on Saturday, Iowa improved to 6-0 to become the Big Ten's last remaining undefeated team, one of merely two 6-0 teams in the country and one of only nine teams yet to suffer a loss. Four unbeatens suffered their first loss last weekend, including Wisconsin, which fell at Ohio State. Overall, nine FBS programs remain undefeated but only Iowa and Alabama boast 6-0 marks. Seven other programs have won their first five contests, including Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Kansas, South Florida, Texas and Texas Christian. The Hawkeyes will look to maintain their unblemished record with a road trip to face the 5-1 Badgers. The last time that Iowa opened a season with seven 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.
Streaking Hawkeyes: Iowa has now won 10 consecutive games overall, including a 6-0 start this year and four victories to close the 2009 campaign, capped by a triumph in the Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes' 10-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools behind only Florida's current 15-game winning streak. The last time Iowa was victorious in 10 or more consecutive games was when the program won 20 straight contests between 1920 and 1923. The last Big Ten team to record 10 consecutive wins was Ohio State, which opened at 10-0 during the 2007 campaign. The Buckeyes are also the last conference program to produce more than 10 straight triumphs, winning 19 straight during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Other Hot Starts: In addition to the Hawkeyes' 6-0 start, three Big Ten schools have won five of their first six games this season. Ohio State has won at least five of its first six games for the fourth straight campaign, after opening at 7-1 in 2008, 10-1 in 2007 and completing a perfect 12-0 regular season in 2006. Penn State has claimed victory in at least five of its first six games for the second straight year and the third time in the last five seasons, including a 9-0 start in 2008 and an 11-1 final record in 2005, including a 6-0 opening stretch. Wisconsin has won at least five of its first six games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, including a 5-1 start in 2007 and a final mark of 12-1 in 2006, Bret Bielema's first year as head coach of the Badgers. In addition to the conference's three 5-1 teams, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern have all won four of six games so far this year.
BCS Rankings: The first installment of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings will be released on Sunday, Oct. 18. Contact Mike Finn at the ACC (MFINN@theacc.org) for more information.
Iowa Becomes Big Ten's First Bowl-Eligible Team: After improving to 6-0 last weekend, Iowa became the first Big Ten team to become eligible for bowl competition this season. The Hawkeyes are bowl-eligible for the ninth consecutive season and are set to make their second straight postseason trip 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. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all stand at 5-1, just one win from bowl eligibility. The Nittany Lions are looking for their fifth straight bowl trip and 36th postseason contest under head coach Joe Paterno, who is the NCAA's all-time leader in bowl victories (23) and bids (35). The Buckeyes are targeting their ninth consecutive bowl under head coach Jim Tressel and have played in 40 bowl contests, the most among all Big Ten schools. 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 4-2 marks, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern 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.
Three-Million-Fan March: With all four Big Ten games featuring packed houses last Saturday, the conference surpassed the three-million mark in total attendance for the 45th straight season. Big Ten stadiums have welcomed 3,020,045 fans through the turnstiles in 42 total games, an average of 71,906 patrons per contest and 22 sellouts. The Big Ten is on pace to average more than 70,000 fans per game for just the seventh time in conference annals and the fourth time in the last five years, including a conference-record 72,566 patrons per outing in 2005. In conference games only, the Big Ten surpassed the one-million mark last weekend and has hosted 1,005,395 patrons in 14 games, an average of 71,814 fans per Big Ten game with 10 packed houses.
Trophy Games Return: After a weekend featuring no games with traditional trophies on the line, two trophies will be up for grabs on Saturday when Iowa and Wisconsin battle for the Heartland Trophy and Minnesota and Penn State compete for the Governor's Victory Bell. The Heartland Trophy is the conference's newest rivalry trophy after being instituted for the 2004 season. The Hawkeyes have claimed the Heartland Trophy in three of five games, including snapping a two-game losing streak with a triumph over the Badgers last season. The Governor's Victory Bell is the Big Ten's second-youngest rivalry trophy and was created as one of two trophy games for the Nittany Lions upon joining the conference in 1993. PSU has earned the Governor's Victory Bell in six of the 10 matchups, including wins in each of the last two games, although the two teams have not met since 2006. Overall, the Big Ten features 15 traditional trophy games.
Close Calls: Iowa and Wisconsin will resume what is currently the closest series in Big Ten annals, as the two teams have split 84 matchups with an all-time record of 41-41-2. Only four other Big Ten series of 30 games or longer are within two games, including Michigan State-Purdue (Spartans lead 30-28-3), Minnesota-Purdue (Gophers lead 32-30-3), Illinois-Wisconsin (Illini lead 36-34-7) and Iowa-Michigan State (Hawkeyes lead 20-18-2).
Big Ten Schedule Announced for Oct. 24: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Oct. 24. Final determination of television for Illinois-Purdue and Minnesota-Ohio State will be made following the contests on Oct. 17.
Illinois at Purdue, Noon ET, 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 Northwestern kicker Stefan Demos being named one of three Lou Groza Award "Stars of the Week" for his performance on Oct. 3, the Big Ten Network posting its highest viewership ever for games on Oct. 3 and Michigan's Zoltan Mesko and Minnesota's Eric Decker being named finalists for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 10