Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 13
Oct. 13, 2008
FACES OF THE BIG TEN
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
PSU One of Three 7-0 Teams: With five more Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools suffering their first losses last week, including three of the top four teams in the polls, only 10 teams boast perfect records. Penn State is one of only three teams to win its first seven games this season after improving to 7-0 with a road triumph at Wisconsin. The nation's only other 7-0 programs are Ball State and Utah. Alabama, Brigham Young, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Tulsa have jumped out to 6-0 marks while Boise State stands at 5-0.
Penn State Perfection: The Nittany Lions knocked off Wisconsin to improve to 7-0 this season, PSU's first 7-0 start since 1999 when the team won its first nine games. Head coach Joe Paterno has now led the program to a 7-0 start for the 11th time overall. Last weekend, Penn State posted its first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and its 48 points were its most against a top-25 team since 1994.
Spartans, Gophers and Buckeyes Keep Rolling: In addition to Penn State's perfect start, three more Big Ten teams maintained their winning streaks last weekend as Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State all improved to 6-1. After being edged at California in their season opener, the Spartans have reeled off six straight triumphs for the first time since opening the 1999 campaign with a 6-0 record. The last time MSU won seven straight games in a single season was in 1978. After winning only one game last season, the Gophers have dramatically increased their win total with a 6-1 record, only their second 6-1 start in more than four decades. The last time Minnesota opened at 6-1 was in 2003, while their last 7-1 record occurred in 1961. The Buckeyes have triumphed in at least six of their first seven games for the third straight season and the fifth time in head coach Jim Tressel's eight seasons in Columbus, including a 10-0 start last season.
Successful Road Trips: Big Ten teams continued to excel away from home with four of five conference games featuring road triumphs last weekend, including wins by Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State. Big Ten programs now boast a 9-6 road record through the first three weekends of conference action, with seven different teams picking up victories away from home. Saturday's road show started with Iowa collecting its first conference win with a victory at Indiana and Minnesota reaching bowl-eligibility with a win at Illinois, the Golden Gophers first road triumph in the Big Ten since the 2006 campaign and their first win in Champaign since 2003. Michigan State and Penn State capped a successful road weekend by improving to 2-0 away from home with victories at Northwestern and Wisconsin, respectively. Other Big Ten teams to pick up wins in enemy territory so far this season include Illinois, Northwestern and Ohio State.
Spartans, Gophers and Buckeyes Reach Bowl Eligibility: Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State each picked up their sixth triumphs on Saturday to join Penn State as the four Big Ten programs to become bowl-eligible this season. The Spartans improved to 6-1 with a road triumph at Northwestern as second-year head coach Mark Dantonio is looking to take MSU bowling for a second straight year for the first time since the program played in three straight bowls from 1995-97. The Gophers were victorious at Illinois to move to 6-1 overall, giving second-year mentor Tim Brewster an opportunity to return the program to the postseason after a one-year absence, following five straight bowl berths from 2002-06. The Buckeyes collected a home win over Purdue to improve to 6-1 on the year, as head coach Jim Tressel is looking to lead OSU to an eighth consecutive bowl. 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 Motor City 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. 8, 2009 in Miami, Fla.
Northwestern Stands One Win From Bowl Berth: After suffering its first loss last weekend, Northwestern stands at 5-1, just one victory from bowl eligibility. The Wildcats face Purdue on Saturday and are aiming for their first bowl excursion since playing in the Sun Bowl following the 2005 campaign and the first postseason appearance under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Painter and Kelly Join Rare Company: Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter and Penn State kicker Kevin Kelly continued their attack on the Big Ten records book last weekend, with both standouts joining prestigious company. Painter collected 228 passing yards at Ohio State on Saturday to become just the fourth signal caller in Big Ten history to surpass the 10,000-mark in career passing yardage. The senior quarterback now has 10,216 passing yards, ranking fourth in conference annals behind only fellow-Boilermaker Drew Brees (11,792 yards from 1997-2000), Northwestern's Brett Basanez (10,580 from 2002-05) and Iowa's Chuck Long (10,461 from 1981-85). Painter has also cracked the top five in Big Ten history with 893 completions (third), 1,511 passing attempts (third), 10,565 total offensive yards (fourth) and 1,723 total offensive plays (fourth). Kelly connected on a pair of field goals and added six extra points at Wisconsin on Saturday to become just the third kicker in conference history to compile more than 360 career kicking points. Kelly now has 362 kicking points, ranking third behind only Minnesota's Dan Nystrom (1999-2002) and Iowa's Nate Kaeding (2000-03), who ended their careers tied for the Big Ten lead with 367 kicking points. Kelly has also scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion in his time at Penn State to compile 370 total points, a sum that ranks fourth in Big Ten annals, and his 67 career field goals are tied for fourth all-time.
Three Million Fan March: The Big Ten surpassed the three-million mark in total attendance for the 44th straight season last weekend with 3,229,833 fans passing through the turnstiles in 46 total games, an average of 70,214 per outing and 21 sellouts. The Big Ten is on pace to average more than 70,000 fans per game for just the sixth time in conference annals and the third time in the last four 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 with 1,109,388 fans in 15 games, including nine packed houses. Conference teams are averaging 73,959 patrons per Big Ten contest, which would shatter the record of 72,169 set in 2005.
The Return of the Trophy Game: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, Iowa and Wisconsin will battle for the newest award, the Heartland Trophy, on Saturday. The Badgers have won the last two matchups to even the trophy series at 2-2 since the award debuted in 2004.
Paterno Maintains Top Spot: With a victory at Wisconsin on Saturday, Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 379th career victory to maintain sole possession of the all-time victory record among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. Paterno improved to 379-125-3 in his 43rd season leading the Nittany Lions while Florida State's Bobby Bowden had a bye last weekend to remain in second place with 377 career triumphs. Paterno has now been on the sidelines for 507 career games, one of only three mentors in NCAA history to crack that barrier along with former Big Ten coach Amos Alonzo Stagg (548 games from 1890-1946 with Springfield, Chicago and Pacific) and Bowden (501 games). Paterno will aim for win number 380 on Saturday against Michigan.
Paterno Takes Sole Possession of Seventh Place in Century Club: Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 132nd triumph since joining the conference to pass Illinois' Robert Zuppke for seventh place on the list of 12 mentors to collect 100 or more wins while at a Big Ten school. Paterno is now 132-58 in 15-plus seasons since 1993, while Zuppke posted a record of 131-81-13 in 29 years with the Fighting Illini from 1913-41. Next up on the list is Minnesota's Henry Williams, who produced a record of 136-33-11 in 22 seasons from 1900-21. Among other active Big Ten coaches, Purdue's Joe Tiller boasts 85 wins in 11-plus years in West Lafayette while Ohio State's Jim Tressel has racked up 79 victories in seven-plus seasons with the Buckeyes.
Big Ten Good Workers: Illinois' Brit Miller and Northwestern's Eric Peterman were among 11 FBS selections for the 2008 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team. The honored players embody the true spirit of "teamwork" and "giving back" through selfless contributions and commendable acts of kindness. In order to be eligible, each student-athlete must be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or community service while maintaining good academic standing. Miller, who will graduate with a double major in speech communications and history in less than four years, is a four-year starter at linebacker for the Illini. He usually averages at least two hours a week volunteering in the Central Illinois community, including spending time at the Danville Medical Center, speaking at elementary and middle schools, organizing the team's annual supply drive for a local children's home and other activities. Peterman, a three-year starter at wideout and team captain, is a member of the McCormick School of Engineering Student Advisory Board, the Undergraduate Leadership Program and the National Scholar's Honor Society. Off campus, he is involved in a number of community service projects, including visiting Children's Memorial Hospital on Friday mornings when the Wildcats are home, volunteering for Misericordia Candy Days and taking part in NU's annual visit from Special Spectators, an organization that brings chronically ill children and their families to football games each year.
Big Ten Schedule Announced for Oct. 25: The following schedule has been confirmed for Oct. 25:
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