Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 15
Oct. 15, 2012
The Race for Division Championships: After three weeks of Big Ten play, two teams from each division boast unblemished records, standing atop their respective divisions. In the Legends Division, Iowa and Michigan have each opened the conference season with a pair of victories, while Northwestern is in third at 2-1. Nebraska had a bye last week and remains 1-1 in conference play. Ohio State and Penn State hold undefeated marks in the Leaders Division, with the Buckeyes winning their first three conference games of the season, while the Nittany Lions were off last weekend and boast a 2-0 Big Ten record. Wisconsin is third in the standings, having won its last two conference games for a 2-1 mark in Big Ten action.
More Division Matchups: This week's slate of Big Ten matchups features five conference contests, including three intra-division showdowns. In the Legends Division, Michigan and Nebraska open divisional play, the last teams to begin their division schedules, as the Wolverines host in-state rival Michigan State, while the Cornhuskers travel to Northwestern. In the Leaders Division, Ohio State hosts Purdue in the second division game for each team. As part of divisional play, the Big Ten instituted a tiebreaker to determine the Big Ten Football Championship Game participants, if necessary. After head-to-head matchups, the next tiebreaker is records within the division, which makes winning divisional games an important part of the Big Ten title chase.
Lucky Seven: Ohio State held off Indiana on Saturday for its seventh straight win to start the 2012 season. The Buckeyes are one of just two teams in the country, joining Ohio, to hold 7-0 records, and are one of just 12 teams in the country with an unblemished mark this year. Head coach Urban Meyer became the third coach in program history to win seven straight contests to begin his tenure. It marks just the third time since 1946 a Big Ten coach has won seven or more games in his debut season, following former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, who won 11 straight in 1979, and former Michigan coach Bennie Oosterbaan, who posted a perfect 9-0 season in 1948.
He's a Ball-er: Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had a career day against Purdue on Saturday, leading to record-setting results. With 247 yards and three touchdowns, Ball became the Big Ten's all-time leader in total touchdowns and points, overtaking the previous marks set by former Badger Ron Dayne. Ball boasts 72 touchdowns and 434 points in his career, bettering the former standards of 71 and 426, respectively, from Dayne. Ball ranks third in conference history with 66 rushing scores, needing six more touchdowns to pass Dayne's record of 71 career rushing scores. Just the third player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to score 70 or more touchdowns, Ball is six total scores away from matching the all-time FBS record of 78, held by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio).
Bowl-ieve It: With its victory over Minnesota on Saturday, Northwestern notched its sixth win of the season, becoming bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive campaign. Northwestern has earned bowl invitations 10 times previously in program history, with seven berths since 2000. The Wildcats have appeared in a postseason bowl four seasons in a row. Wisconsin is one victory away from cementing its bowl eligibility after defeating Purdue on Saturday to improve its record to 5-2 this season. The Badgers eye their 24th bowl appearance in program history, having appeared in the postseason in each of the last 10 seasons.
An Exclusive Club: Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz guided the Hawkeyes to a double-overtime victory over Michigan State on Saturday, giving the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten his 100th victory on the Iowa sidelines. He is the 12th coach in conference history to win 100 or more games while a member of the Big Ten and is the second Hawkeye mentor to reach the 100-wins mark, joining former coach Hayden Fry, who won 143 games in his 20-year tenure on the Iowa bench.
Another Week of Achievements: Michigan's Denard Robinson continued his drive through Big Ten and NCAA record books following his performance against Illinois on Saturday. With 287 yards of total offense, Robinson became just the eighth player in Big Ten history to reach 10,000 yards of offense, and the fifth conference player to accomplish the feat since 2005. In addition, with two rushing scores and two passing strikes on Saturday, he became the second Big Ten player in history, and eighth in NCAA annals, to rush for 40 touchdowns and throw for 40 more. Now with 41 career rushing scores and 49 passing touchdowns, Robinson joins former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El as the only two players to achieve the feat in Big Ten history.
Road Warriors: Four of the five conference matchups were won by road teams on Saturday, giving road squads a winning record through the first three weeks of conference play. All three road teams won in the early afternoon games on Saturday, as Iowa knocked off Michigan State in double overtime, while Northwestern held off Minnesota and Wisconsin defeated Purdue. On Saturday night, Ohio State gave the road contingent its fourth victory of the weekend after defeating Indiana. Overall, Big Ten road teams own an 8-7 mark in conference games, with Ohio State enjoying a 2-0 road record, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State are each 1-0 in conference road games, with Northwestern and Wisconsin splitting their two road contests this season.
Twice Over the Century: Finding itself down 18 points at 52-34 with less than two minutes to play against Ohio State, Indiana rallied to close within three before ultimately falling 52-49 on Saturday. It marks the second consecutive week Big Ten teams have combined for more than 100 points in a single game, with both contests involving Ohio State. The Buckeyes defeated Nebraska on Oct. 6, 63-38, to match the 101 total points combined on Saturday night between Ohio State and Indiana. It marks the second time in three seasons that Big Ten teams have combined for 100 or more points in consecutive weeks. On Nov. 6, 2010, Michigan defeated Illinois, 67-65 in triple overtime, a week before Wisconsin defeated Indiana, 83-20, on Nov. 13, 2010.
Trophy Games: This weekend, two of the longest running series in the Big Ten will be renewed and each will have one of the conference's 16 traveling trophies at stake. The longest running series in the country will stage its 122nd matchup when Wisconsin hosts Minnesota in the annual battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. The Gophers and Badgers have battled for the axe since 1948, with Wisconsin holding a 38-23-3 advantage and a current eight-game winning streak. Michigan and Michigan State will meet for the 105th time overall and the 60th time with the Paul Bunyan trophy up for grabs. The Wolverines own a 34-23-2 advantage in trophy games, but Michigan State has won the last four contests.