Oct. 15, 2007
Ohio State Climbs to No. 1 in All Major Polls: Following a weekend when five more teams suffered their first losses, including the teams ranked first and second in the national polls, Ohio State remained unbeaten to climb into the top spot in the Associated Press, USA Today and Harris Interactive polls. In addition, the Buckeyes debuted in the No. 1 position in the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings of the season. OSU reclaims the No. 1 ranking in the three major polls for the first time since the final regular season ratings of last season and stands first in the BCS poll for the ninth straight time, after holding the top spot in all eight BCS polls during the 2006 campaign. Ohio State is one of only six undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision programs remaining through seven weekends of play. The Buckeyes are joined by Arizona State, Boston College and Hawaii at 7-0 while Kansas and South Florida are off to 6-0 starts. OSU returns to Big Ten play on Saturday against Michigan State.
Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Eight Teams With Five or More Wins: While Ohio State has jumped out to a 7-0 start, seven other Big Ten teams have opened with 5-2 records to give the conference eight programs boasting five or more victories, more than any other conference. The Big Ten's five-win contingent includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. In addition, Northwestern improved to 4-3 last weekend to push nine of the Big Ten's 11 schools over the .500 mark. The Big 12 and SEC rank second to the Big Ten with six schools each with five or more triumphs, followed by the Big East (four teams with five-plus wins), Pac-10 (four) and ACC (three).
Another 7-0 Start for Buckeyes: Ohio State has sprinted to a 7-0 start for the second straight season and the third time under head coach Jim Tressel. The last two times that the Buckeyes opened at 7-0 the team went on to produce perfect regular season marks, including a 12-0 record last season before falling in the national championship game and a 13-0 record in 2002 before capping a perfect 14-0 season with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl for a national title. Ohio State has produced back-to-back 7-0 starts for the first time since the 1995 and 1996 campaigns when the school jumped out to 11-0 and 10-0 marks, respectively.
The Big Ten's Longest Regular-Season Win Streak in Over 100 Years: With a non-conference triumph over Kent State, Ohio State built upon its school record with a 25th consecutive regular-season triumph, the longest regular-season victory streak by a Big Ten team in more than a century. The Buckeyes have not lost a regular-season game since dropping a 17-10 decision at Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005. The 25-game winning streak shatters the previous school mark of 21 straight triumphs set from 1967-69. The last time a conference team won 25 or more straight regular season contests was when Michigan produced 26 consecutive victories from 1903-05, including undefeated national championship seasons in 1903 and 1904. The Wolverines actually boast the two longest regular-season victory streaks in conference annals with 28 straight triumphs from 1901-03. Those two streaks are separated only by a 6-6 tie at Minnesota on Oct. 31, 1903, and do not include Michigan's victory over Stanford in the 1902 Rose Bowl. Michigan State won 28 straight regular-season games from 1950-53 but did not join the conference until 1953.
Buckeyes Target 18th Straight Big Ten Win: Ohio State will aim for sole possession of the second-longest Big Ten winning streak in conference history on Saturday when the Buckeyes look for their 18th straight victory. OSU has won 17 consecutive Big Ten contests, matching the program record of 17 straight Big Ten triumphs from 1974-76, a string of success also accomplished from 1967-69 and 1954-56. Michigan is the only team to win more consecutive conference games, setting the all-time record with 19 straight victories from 1990-92.
Seven Schools Stand One Win From Bowl Eligibility: While Ohio State has already secured a postseason bowl berth, seven Big Ten teams stand just one win shy of bowl eligibility. The conference's 5-2 programs are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. At least two Big Ten programs will become bowl-eligible on Saturday when the Illini host the Wolverines and the Hoosiers take on the Nittany Lions. The Badgers will aim for their sixth win by wrapping up non-conference play at home against Northern Illinois, while the Boilermakers host Iowa and the Spartans face a road test against the nation's No. 1 team in Columbus, Ohio. Illinois is aiming for its first bowl trip under head coach Ron Zook and the first for the program since advancing to the Sugar Bowl after winning the 2001 Big Ten Championship. Under first-year head coach Bill Lynch, Indiana is looking to end the Big Ten's longest active bowl drought and return to postseason play for the first time since the 1993 campaign. Michigan's current streak of 32 consecutive bowls is the longest active streak in the nation, including postseason bids in each of Lloyd Carr's first 12 seasons in Ann Arbor. In his first year in East Lansing, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is aiming to take the Spartans back to a bowl game for the first time since the 2003 campaign. Penn State is seeking a third straight bowl bid and 34th postseason appearance under head coach Joe Paterno, who is the NCAA's all-time leader in bowl victories (22) and bids (33). The Boilermakers are targeting their second straight bowl trip and 10th postseason appearance in Joe Tiller's 11th year as the head coach. The Badgers are looking for their sixth straight bowl trip and the second in two years under head coach Bret Bielema. With a 4-3 mark, Northwestern is 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 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. 7, 2008 in New Orleans, La.
Three Million Fan March: The Big Ten surpassed the three million mark in total attendance for the 43rd straight season last weekend with 3,360,824 fans passing through the turnstiles in 47 total games, an average of 71,507 per outing and 26 sellouts. The Big Ten is on pace to average more than 71,000 fans per game for just the second time in conference annals after setting the single-season record with 72,566 patrons per contest during the 2005 campaign. In addition, with an average of more than three packed houses every weekend so far this season and five Saturdays remaining, the Big Ten could shatter the conference record of 39 sellouts established in 2004. In conference games only, 12 of the 20 contests have featured full houses with an average of 70,113 per game, which would rank among the top 10 attendance averages in Big Ten history.
The Best and the Brightest: Six Big Ten student-athletes were named semifinalists for the 2007 Draddy Trophy, which recognizes one player as the best in the country for combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. The conference's seven honorees are Illinois' J Leman, Indiana's Kevin Trulock, Iowa's Mike Klinkenborg, Minnesota's Anthony Brinkhaus, Purdue's Jared Armstrong and Wisconsin's Luke Swan. Nominees for the Draddy Trophy must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and demonstrate strong leadership and citizenship. Selected by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, up to 15 finalists will be named on October 25 as part of the 2007 National Scholar-Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The winner will pick up the Draddy Trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship on Dec. 4. The Big Ten boasts two former student-athletes who earned the Draddy Trophy -- Ohio State's Craig Krenzel (2003) and Bobby Hoying (1995).
Carr Ties Alvarez for Ninth in Big Ten Century Club: With a victory over Purdue on Saturday, Michigan's Lloyd Carr earned his 118th triumph in Ann Arbor to equal current Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez for ninth place in the Big Ten century club. In his 13th season leading the Wolverines, Carr has built a record of 118-38 while Alvarez wrapped up his 16-year coaching tenure in Madison following the 2005 campaign with a record of 118-73-4. Penn State's Joe Paterno also continued to build on his victory total with a win over Wisconsin, improving to 121-56 since the Nittany Lions joined the conference in 1993. The PSU mentor ranks eighth among the group of coaches with 100 or more wins at a Big Ten school.
Impressive TV Ratings: Three of the top 15 most-watched Big Ten regular-season football games ever on ESPN have occurred in the first half of the 2007 college football season. The Sept. 8 Notre Dame-Penn State contest was viewed by 3.3 million television households (TVHH), the fourth-largest audience in Big Ten history. Two other games also appeared among the top 15, including the Oct. 6 Wisconsin-Illinois matchup (ninth in 2.8 million TVHH) and the Sept. 15 Pittsburgh-Michigan State contest (14th in 2.5 million TVHH). The most-watched Big Ten regular-season game on ESPN took place two years ago when the Ohio State-Penn State matchup on Oct. 8, 2005, was seen by 4.4 million TVHH.
The Return of Non-Conference Play: This weekend's schedule includes three non-conference games with Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin wrapping up play outside the Big Ten. With five weekends left to play, Big Ten programs have compiled a non-conference record of 30-7 (.811) and are on pace to win more than 80 percent of their regular-season out-of-conference games for the second time in three seasons ( 28-6, .824, in 2005) and just the fourth time since 1960 (23-4, .852, in 1997; 26-1-2, .963, in 1960). With seven out-of-conference games remaining, the Big Ten has a chance to shatter the conference's modern era record for non-conference wins prior to bowl play. The Big Ten produced a 33-13 mark in 2002 and equaled that win total last season with a record of 33-12, two of only three other 12-game seasons in conference annals (30-14 in 2003). The Big Ten's all-time record for non-conference triumphs occurred when the conference built a 57-3-1 out-of-league mark in 1905, the sixth straight year with 40 or more non-conference triumphs.
Big Ten Schedule Set for Oct. 27: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Saturday, Oct. 27:
Ball State at Illinois, 11 a.m. CDT, Big Ten Network
Indiana at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. CDT, Big Ten Network
Northwestern at Purdue, Noon EDT, Big Ten Network
Michigan State at Iowa, 11 a.m. CDT, ESPN2
Minnesota at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN Classic
Ohio State at Penn State, 8 p.m. EDT, ABC
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS LAST WEEK
IOWA QB Jake Christensen: Completed 17-of-25 passes (68.0 pct.) for 182 yards and a TD in victory over Illinois.
MICH QB Chad Henne: Completed 21-of-28 passes (75.0 pct.) for a season-high 264 yards and two TDs in victory over Purdue.
OSU QB Todd Boeckman: Completed 13-of-16 passes (81.3 pct.) for 184 yards and two TDs in just over one half of play against Kent State.
PSU QB Anthony Morelli: Completed 16-of-28 passes (57.1 pct.) for 216 yards and a TD to knock off Wisconsin.
WIS WR Kyle Jefferson: Set career highs with six receptions and 124 yards (20.7 avg.) at PSU.
MSU DE Ervin Baldwin: Set career highs with six tackles (two solo) and two sacks (-12 yards) while returning a fumble 12 yards for a TD in a victory over Indiana.
NU LB Malcolm Arrington: Seven tackles (two solo) and a 27-yard interception return late in the third quarter to spark NU's comeback from a 35-14 deficit against Minnesota.
OSU CB Donald Washington: Three tackles (all solo), one sack (-3 yards) and a 70-yard interception return for a TD against Kent State.
PSU LB Sean Lee: 12 tackles (five solo), two TFLs (-6 yards), including a five-yard sack, and a fumble recovery in triumph over Wisconsin.
MSU KR Devin Thomas: Accounted for 254 all-purpose yards, including 92 yards on three kickoff returns (30.7 avg.) and 148 receiving yards against Indiana.
WIS P Ken DeBauche: Six punts for 263 yards (43.8 avg.), including two inside the 20 and a long of 56 yards at Penn State.