Oct. 18, 2010
Big Ten Leads All Conference With Four of Top 15 in First BCS Poll: In the first edition of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, the Big Ten led all conferences with four teams ranked among the top 15. The Big 12 and SEC ranked second with three teams each among the top 15, followed by two teams each from the Mountain West and Pac-10. Michigan State tops all Big Ten schools at No. 7 in the initial BCS standings, the highest BCS ranking in school history, breaking the previous high of No. 9 set in the Dec. 5, 1999 BCS poll. Ohio State ranks No. 10 in the first BCS poll, the ninth straight season the Buckeyes have appeared in a BCS ranking. Wisconsin is rated No. 13 and has now appeared in the BCS poll in six of the last seven seasons. Iowa is ranked No. 15 after setting a program record by rising to No. 4 in the BCS last season.
And Then There Was One: After seven weeks of college football, only 10 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs remain undefeated, including Michigan State. The Spartans are one of only four teams standing at 7-0, a group that includes Auburn, LSU and TCU. Six programs are off to 6-0 starts, including Boise State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Utah.
MSU's Historic Start: Michigan State has won its first seven games for the first time since opening with nine straight triumphs in 1966 and just the sixth time in school history. The Spartans jumped out to a 10-0 start in 1965, 9-0 marks in 1966, 1952 and 1951 and a 7-0 record in 1913. The last four times MSU opened a season with seven straight wins the program won national titles, with Big Ten Championships in 1965 and 1966.
Three Perfect Big Ten Starts: While Michigan State has won its first three Big Ten games this season, the Spartans are tied for first place in the conference standings with Iowa and Purdue, who are both 2-0 in conference action. The Spartans have won their first three Big Ten games for just the fourth time since 1990, including 3-0 starts in 2008 and 1999 and a 4-0 opening stretch in 2003. The Hawkeyes have opened Big Ten play with two triumphs for just the sixth time since 1990, including 5-0 starts last season and in 1990, a perfect 8-0 record in 2002, a 3-0 mark in 1996 and a 2-0 start in 1995. The Boilermakers have also jumped to a 2-0 mark in Big Ten play for the sixth time since 1990, including a 4-0 opening stretch in 1997, a 3-0 record in 2003 and 2-0 starts in 2004, 2001 and 1994. Of the above starts, only two led to Big Ten Championships, with Iowa finishing atop the conference standings in 2002 and 1990.
Ranked Teams Square Off: For the fourth straight weekend, at least one Big Ten matchup will feature two nationally ranked teams with No. 15 Iowa hosting No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday. The conference schedule featured a pair of games between top-25 teams on Oct. 2 (Wisconsin at Michigan State, Penn State at Iowa) and Oct. 16 (Iowa at Michigan, Ohio State at Wisconsin) and one matchup of nationally ranked teams on Oct. 9 (Michigan State at Michigan). In the five previous conference games featuring ranked teams, the home school was victorious in three contests.
Wisconsin Becomes Big Ten's Third Bowl-Eligible Team: After picking up its sixth victory last weekend, Wisconsin (6-1) joins Michigan State (7-0) and Ohio State (6-1) as bowl-eligible teams. 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. 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.
Three More Nearing Bowl Eligibility: Iowa (5-1), Northwestern (5-1) and Michigan (5-2) all stand just one victory from bowl eligibility. The Hawkeyes are looking to become bowl-eligible for the 10th consecutive season under head coach Kirk Ferentz and have played in the postseason following each of the last two seasons. 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. With 4-2 marks, Indiana and Purdue are 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.
Two Coaches Near Century Mark: Indiana's Bill Lynch and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz are both nearing the 100-victory mark for their coaching careers. Lynch improved to 99-92-3 with a win over Arkansas State last weekend and will look for his 100th victory on Saturday at Illinois. Lynch has compiled his 99 triumphs over 17-plus seasons at Butler, Ball State, DePauw and Indiana. Ferentz is now 98-77 in his career after a victory at Michigan last weekend and is in his 15th season as a head coach after a previous stint at Maine.
Wisconsin's Gilreath Sets Another Return Record: Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State, his first career kickoff return score, and shattered a Big Ten career record in the process. Gilreath ended the game with four kickoff returns for 163 yards to boost his career numbers to 2,677 yards. He passed Michigan State's Derrick Mason, who set the previous record of 2,575 yards from 1993-96. Gilreath entered the 2010 campaign already ranked first in Big Ten annals in total kickoff returns and now has 120 for his career.
More Big Ten Record Chasers: In addition to Gilreath, several other Big Ten players are nearing or moving up top 10 lists for conference career records. Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber completed 20 of 45 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns and added 42 rushing yards at Purdue to crack the top five in conference annals with 1,819 total offensive plays and 10,723 total offensive yards. Weber is 100 passing yards away from becoming the fifth Big Ten signal caller to crack 10,000 passing yards and also ranks among the top 10 in conference history with 1,442 passes (fourth), 826 completions (fifth) and 66 passing touchdowns (ninth). Iowa safety Tyler Sash recorded his 12th career interception and returned it 36 yards at Michigan to boost his career interception return yardage to 386 yards, which moves him up to fourth in Big Ten history. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor produced 56 rushing yards at Wisconsin to boost his career rushing numbers to 1,820 yards, which ranks sixth in conference annals. In just his first full season as a starter, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is also nearing the top 10 in career rushing yards by a quarterback. The nation's second-leading rusher produced 105 yards on the ground against Iowa and now has 1,447 rushing yards in his career, just 230 yards shy of the Big Ten's top 10. Wisconsin running back John Clay posted two more rushing touchdowns against the Buckeyes and now has 38 for his career, just five shy of cracking the top 10 in Big Ten history. Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy converted four field goals against Illinois and is now a perfect 14-of-14 for his career. His 14 consecutive field goals is tied for the sixth-longest streak in conference annals.
Big Ten Players Among Stat Leaders: A group of Big Ten players continue to rank among the top five nationally in various statistical categories. Indiana wideout Tandon Doss leads the country with 202.0 all-purpose yards per game. Four Big Ten quarterbacks are among the nation's statistical leaders, including Michigan's Denard Robinson, who ranks second in the country with 156.6 rushing yards and 345.0 total yards per outing. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi rates third nationally with a 180.5 pass efficiency rating while Indiana's Ben Chappell is fourth in the country with 309.7 passing yards per contest. Northwestern's Dan Persa is among the top five in both pass efficiency (fourth at 173.3) and total offense (fifth at 326.3 yards per game). On the defensive side of the ball, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan ranks among the top five in the nation with 2.33 tackles for loss (second) and 0.50 fumbles forced (tied for fourth) per game. On special teams, Penn State's Collin Wagner is tied for second nationally with 2.17 field goals per contest while Illinois' Derek Dimke is tied for fourth place with 2.00 field goals per outing. Illini punter Anthony Santella is fourth in the country with 46.7 yards per boot.
Million-Fan March: With two more sellouts last Saturday, the Big Ten surpassed the one-million mark in total attendance for conference games only. Big Ten stadiums have welcomed 1,064,627 fans through the turnstiles in 14 conference games with nine sellouts. Big Ten stadiums are averaging 76,045 fans per conference contest, which would shatter the all-time record of 72,169 set during the 2005 campaign. In all games, the Big Ten has hosted more than 3.3 million fans in 46 games, including 22 packed houses. Big Ten schools are averaging 73,220 fans for all games, which would break the conference record of 72,566 established in 2005.
Two Trophies Up For Grabs: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, two of the newest trophies will be on the line Saturday when Iowa and Wisconsin battle for the Heartland Trophy and Minnesota and Penn State compete for the Governor's Victory Bell. The Hawkeyes and Badgers have played 85 times since 1894 and instituted the Heartland Trophy for the 2004 season. Iowa has won four of six matchups for the Heartland Trophy, including victories in each of the last two seasons. The Governor's Victory Bell was one of two trophy games instituted for Penn State during their opening Big Ten campaign in 1993. The Nittany Lions have won seven of 11 matchups for the Governor's Victory Bell, including triumphs in their last three meetings.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 16
IND QB Ben Chappell: Completed 26 of 42 passes (61.9 pct.) for 382 yards and four TDs.
MSU QB Kirk Cousins: Recorded fifth straight game of 200 or more passing yards, completing 13 of 24 throws (54.2 pct.) for 201 yards and one TD.
MINN WR Da'Jon McKnight: Posted six receptions for 123 yards and a TD at Purdue.
OSU WR Dane Sanzenbacher: Caught six passes for 94 yards against Wisconsin.
PUR RB Dan Dierking: Averaged 10.5 yards per carry in win over Minnesota, breaking loose for a career-high 126 yards on 12 carries.
WIS RB John Clay: Became first player in 29 games to produce 100 or more rushing yards vs. OSU, posting 21 carries for 104 yards (5.0 avg.) with two TDs.
ILL DT Corey Liuget: Registered a career-high 11 tackles (six solo), two QB hurries and one TFL (-1 yard) to help limit MSU to 93 rushing yards.
IND S Mitchell Evans: Picked off two passes, his second career two-interception game, and added four solo tackles against Arkansas State.
IOWA LB Troy Johnson: Collected a career-best 13 tackles (five solo) with a pass breakup and first career interception at Michigan.
PUR S Logan Link: Former walk-on registered a team-high seven tackles (four solo) and picked off a pass at the goal line with 25 seconds left in the game to seal a victory over Minnesota.
WIS LB Blake Sorenson: Posted a career-high 10 tackles (five solo), 0.5 TFLs (-1 yard) and the game-clinching interception with less than two minutes remaining to secure victory over No. 1 Ohio State.
IND K Mitch Ewald: Connected on all three field goal attempts (20, 34, 46 yards), including a career-long 46-yarder, and three extra points.
IOWA K Mike Meyer: Hit his lone field goal attempt from 30 yards and added five extra points.
MSU K Dan Conroy: Connected on a career-high four field goals (37, 34, 32, 18 yards) and two extra points for a career-best 14 points against Illinois; has connected on his first 13 field-goal attempts this season, the best start in MSU history.