Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 24

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has led Michigan State to first place in the Legends Division.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has led Michigan State to first place in the Legends Division.

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Oct. 24, 2011

Big Ten Mobile Tour: The Big Ten's Honoring Legends. Building Leaders. Mobile Tour will make a stop at each campus this football season. This weekend, it will be in Minneapolis for the Minnesota vs. Iowa game. Visit www.bigten.org/blog/mobile-tour and follow along on Twitter
@B1GMobileTour for more information.

Big Ten One of Two Conferences with Five Teams in BCS Top 20: The Big Ten is one of two conferences with five teams among the top 20 in the second Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings. Michigan State, after defeating previously unbeaten Wisconsin on Saturday, climbed five spots to No. 11 in the polls this week. Nebraska and Wisconsin gave the conference three teams among the top 15 with the Huskers checking in at No. 14 and the Badgers appearing at No. 15. Michigan, which enjoyed a bye last week, remained steady at No. 18, while Penn State climbed two spots to No. 19 this week following its win over Northwestern, making the Nittany Lions a Big Ten-best 7-1 this season. The Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are the only conferences with more than three top-25 teams in the BCS standings.

Big Ten Unbeatens: Through four weeks of the 2011 Big Ten schedule, a pair of squads remain unbeaten in conference play, one in each division. Legends Division member Michigan State boasts a 3-0 conference record after knocking off Ohio State and Michigan in its first two weeks, then defeating Wisconsin on Saturday by way of a Hail Mary heave as time expired.  Penn State sits atop the Leaders Division after earning wins in its first four games of the conference season. The Nittany Lions are 2-0 in division play with wins over Indiana and Purdue, and triumphs against Legends Division teams Northwestern and Iowa. Michigan State starts the conference season 3-0 for the second straight season, while Penn State races to a 4-0 start in Big Ten play for the first time since 2008, when it opened with five straight wins.

Going Deep: Five conference teams have recorded just one loss this season, making the Big Ten the only conference in the nation with five teams with one loss or less. Penn State leads the conference with a 7-1 overall mark, while Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin each enjoy 6-1 records this season. In addition, nine conference squads have won more than half of their overall games, while eight teams - and four in each division - are at or above the .500 mark in conference play.

Another Top-15 Showcase:  This week will mark the third straight Saturday a pair of ranked Big Ten squads will face off, with Michigan State taking part in each of the showdowns. On Saturday, the Spartans travel to Nebraska to face their third straight ranked opponent. The Huskers, who have faced one top-25 team previously this season, boast a 4-0 mark at home and look to climb even with Michigan State in the Legends Division standings. Last week, Michigan State handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season, the second season in a row the Spartans have knocked off an undefeated Badger squad.

Staying in the Division: In a full week of Big Ten contests, four games feature divisional matchups. In the Legends Division, Michigan State and Nebraska, with matching 1-0 records in division play, face off in the second divisional game for each team, while Iowa heads to Minnesota in a battle for the Floyd of Rosedale. It will be Iowa's second division game of the season, while Minnesota will be competing in its third of the year. In the Leaders Division, Illinois, 1-2 in division play, faces a Penn State team that boasts a 2-0 mark in division games, while Ohio State heads to Wisconsin as each team looks to maintain their unbeaten marks in divisional play. With the beginning of divisional play, the Big Ten has instituted a new 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.

Breaking Down Divisional Races: Eight conference squads - four in each division - are at or above the .500 mark as teams near the halfway point of the Big Ten season. Michigan State is the Legends Division Leader through the first four weeks of the season with a 3-0 record and 1-0 ledger in its division. The Spartans are ahead of three 2-1 squads, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska, with the Hawkeyes and Huskers each with 1-0 marks in the division. Michigan has played three games in the division, with its only loss coming to the undefeated Spartans. In the Leaders Division, Penn State boasts a 4-0 record, including a 2-0 mark in the division. Wisconsin and Purdue are tied for second in the division standings with 2-1 conference records, while Illinois is fourth with a 2-2 Big Ten record. At the end of the regular season, the team with the best conference record in each division will advance to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 3.

One for the Lead: Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, the longest serving head coach in major college football history with 46 years at the helm of the Nittany Lions, tied the NCAA Division I record for career wins with his 408th triumph against Northwestern on Saturday. He ties former Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson, who spent 55 years as the school's coach, for the all-time mark. Paterno, who last year joined Robinson as the only two coaches in Division I history to win 400 or more games, looks to assume sole possession of the all-time wins lead when Penn State faces Illinois on Saturday.

Looking to Crack the Record Books:  As teams close in on the halfway point of the 2011 conference season, select conference standouts are looking to make their marks on the single-season records books. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson is on pace to become the single-season record holder in pass efficiency with a 204.9 rating, nearly 30 points higher than the current record of 175.3, and would rank second with a completion percentage of 73.2 percent. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who already holds the single-season record for most rush yards by a quarterback, is 10th on the chart this year with 762 yards rushing with at least five games to play. A few standouts are closing in on the top 10, including Wisconsin running back Montee Ball on at least three charts. His total touchdown count of 19 is four behind 10th, while his 17 rushing scores are also four outside the top 10. In addition, his 114 points is just 24 points out of 10th. Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is less than 300 yards from 10th on the single-season receiving yards charts.

Big Ten Leads All Conferences with Six Bowl Eligible Squads: Two more conference squads earned their sixth wins of the season on Saturday, increasing the conference's bowl-eligible squads to six. The six bowl-eligible teams are the most of any conference in the nation, while the SEC has the second most with four postseason-eligible squads. Michigan State and Nebraska became the latest conference squads to secure their postseason eligibility as the Spartans knocked off Wisconsin and the Huskers went on the road to defeat Minnesota. Michigan State has 21 bowl appearances in its history, while Nebraska leads all conference squads with 47 bowl berths previously. Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin are the other Big Ten teams to have secured their postseason eligibility. With a 5-2 record, Iowa is one win away from giving the conference its seventh bowl-eligible squad.

Trophy Time: In a conference with 16 traditional trophy games, one intraconference keepsake will be on the line Saturday when Minnesota hosts Iowa in the battle for the Floyd of Rosedale. It will be the 77th time since 1935 the teams will square off for the trophy, with Minnesota holding  40-34-2 advantage in the series with the trophy on the line. Last season, Minnesota snapped a three-game Iowa winning streak in the series with a win in the final regular season game for each team.

CLASS Acts:  Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Northwestern's Dan Persa were named two of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, given annually to a senior with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with two finalists after boasting eight nominees for the award, twice as many nominees as any other conference. The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award was first presented in the sport of football in 2008 with Ohio State's James Laurinaitis earning the honor. Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski was a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award last season.

Game Tracker: Times and television designations have been set for games scheduled for Nov. 5.
Michigan at Iowa, Noon ET, ESPN
Minnesota at Michigan State, Noon ET, BTN
Indiana at Ohio State, Noon ET, BTN
Northwestern at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Purdue at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (regional), ESPN2 (outer market)