Oct. 25, 2010
Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Three of Top 11 in Latest BCS Poll: The Big Ten leads all conferences with three teams among the top 11 in the latest Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings, with four schools appearing among the top 18. For the second straight week, Michigan State set a new school record by moving up two slots to No. 5 in the latest BCS rankings. Wisconsin climbed three spots to No. 10 in the BCS poll, the Badgers' first top-10 appearance in the BCS rankings since the 2006 campaign. Ohio State moved down one spot to No. 11, while Iowa is rated No. 18 in the latest poll.
Another Matchup of Ranked Teams: For the fifth straight weekend, at least one Big Ten matchup will feature two nationally ranked teams with No. 18 Iowa hosting No. 5 Michigan State 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) and Oct. 23 (Wisconsin at Iowa). The road team has been victorious in three of the six previous conference games featuring two ranked teams.
Lucky Seven: After eight weeks of college football, only seven Football Bowl Subdivision programs remain undefeated, including Michigan State. The Spartans are one of only three teams standing at 8-0, a group that includes Auburn and TCU. Three programs are off to 7-0 starts, including Missouri, Oregon and Utah, while Boise State enters the week 6-0 overall.
Unbeaten Through Eight: Michigan State has won its first eight games for the first time since opening with nine straight triumphs in 1966 and just the fifth time in school history. The Spartans jumped out to a 10-0 start in 1965 and 9-0 marks in 1966, 1952 and 1951. MSU claimed national championships in each of the previous four seasons that opened with eight straight triumphs, with Big Ten Championships in 1965 and 1966.
Rare Company: Michigan State is the eighth Big Ten team since the 2000 season to open the year with eight consecutive victories. Of the previous seven teams to open at 8-0, six advanced to BCS contests and four won at least a share of the Big Ten title. This marks the fifth straight season that at least one Big Ten team has jumped out to at least on 8-0 start. Last season, Iowa won its first nine games before winning the Orange Bowl. In 2008, Penn State opened at 9-0 before winning a share of the conference crown and advancing to the Rose Bowl Game. Ohio State has won at least its first nine games on three occasions since 2000, including a perfect 14-0 national championship season in 2002 that ended with a win in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes also posted starts of 12-0 in 2006 and 10-0 in 2007 before falling in the BCS Championship Game each season. OSU ended all three of those campaigns atop the conference standings. Other Big Ten programs to open with nine straight triumphs since 2000 include Michigan's 11-0 start in 2006, which earned the Wolverines a trip to the Rose Bowl Game, and Wisconsin's 9-0 opening stretch in 2004, which ended with an Outback Bowl appearance.
A Good Sign: Michigan State is off to a 4-0 start in Big Ten play for the first time since 2003 and is looking for its first 5-0 start since 1966, when the Spartans went 7-0 in conference on their way to the Big Ten title and a national championship. Since the 2000 season, 13 Big Ten teams have started at least 4-0 in conference play. Of those 13 4-0 starts, seven led to at least a share of the Big Ten Championship while 11 ended up either first or second in the conference standings.
Three Teams Target Bowl Eligibility: Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern all stand at 5-2 overall, 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 4-3 marks, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State and Purdue are just two triumphs away from becoming eligible for a bowl trip.
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.
Paterno Nears Landmark Victory: Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 398th victory last weekend at Minnesota, the all-time record among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, and is now just two triumphs shy of unprecedented territory. The Hall of Fame coach is two victories away from joining John Gagliardi (475-active) and Eddie Robinson (408) as the only coaches in NCAA history with 400 victories.
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 has compiled 99 triumphs over 17-plus seasons at Butler, Ball State, DePauw and Indiana and will look for his 100th victory on Saturday against Northwestern. Ferentz has won 98 games in his career and is in his 15th season as a head coach after a previous stint at Maine.
Accurate Passers: With five weekends of Big Ten games yet to be played, four Big Ten quarterbacks are on pace to appear among the top-10 most accurate passing seasons in conference history. Northwestern's Dan Persa is completing 75.7 percent of his passes this season, which would shatter the Big Ten record for single-season completion percentage (minimum 100 completions) set by Wisconsin's Darrell Bevell when he completed 67.8 percent of his throws in 1993. Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi are also on pace to surpass Bevell's conference record. The current Badger quarterback is completing 71.8 percent of his passes and the Hawkeye signal caller is connecting on 68.1 percent of his throws. Michigan State's Kirk Cousins has completed 66.5 percent of his passes so far this season, which ranks 10th in conference annals.
10,000 and Counting: With 299 passing yards against Penn State last weekend, Minnesota's Adam Weber became just the fifth quarterback in Big Ten history to surpass 10,000 passing yards for a career. The senior signal caller now has 10,199 passing yards with the Gophers to rank fifth in conference annals behind only the Purdue duo of Drew Brees (11,792 from 1997-2000) and Curtis Painter (11,163 from 2005-08), Northwestern's Brett Basanez (10,580 from 2002-05) and Iowa's Chuck Long (10,461 from 1981-85). Weber also ranks among the top five in Big Ten history with 1,491 passing attempts (fourth), 852 completions (fourth), 1,871 total offensive plays (fifth) and 11,027 total offensive yards (fifth) while rating eighth with 69 touchdown passes.
Succeeding On and Off Field: Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski is one of 10 Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes named finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Big Ten Standouts Aim for National Awards: Seven Big Ten student-athletes were named quarterfinalists or semifinalists for national awards last week, with Michigan State's Greg Jones remaining eligible for a pair of accolades. The senior linebacker was tabbed a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, named after former Illini Dick Butkus and given annually to the nation's top linebacker, and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy, which is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The Big Ten tied for the lead among all conferences with five quarterfinalists for the Lott Trophy, including Jones, the Ohio State duo of Cameron Heyward and Ross Homan, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt. On the offensive side of the ball, Indiana's Ben Chappell, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien were named quarterfinalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the nation's top senior quarterback.
Illinois and Purdue Battle for Cannon: In a conference that features 15 traditional trophy games, another will be on the line Saturday when Illinois and Purdue battle for the Purdue Cannon. In 1905, a group of Purdue students took the Cannon to Champaign in anticipation of firing it to celebrate a victory. Although Purdue did win the game, Illinois supporters had discovered the Cannon in its hiding place and confiscated it. When the rivalry resumed after a 12-year lapse in 1943, the Cannon first served as a trophy for the winner. The Illini and Boilermakers have played for the Cannon on 58 occasions, with Purdue holding a 30-26-2 advantage, including victories in each of the last five meetings.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 23
IOWA QB Ricky Stanzi: Connected on 25 of 37 passes (67.6 pct.) for 258 yards and three TDs.
NU QB Dan Persa: Equaled NU single-game QB record with three rushing TDs, compiling 46 rushing yards on 22 carries and completing 18 of 29 passes (62.1 pct.) for 187 yards against MSU.
OSU QB Terrelle Pryor: In just one half of play, completed 16 of 22 passes (72.7 pct.) for 270 yards and three TDs in victory over Purdue.
MINN WR Da'Jon McKnight: Posted eight receptions for 103 yards (12.9 avg.) and three TDs.
WIS RB John Clay: Scored two touchdowns and posted 91 yards on 24 carries (3.8 avg.) at Iowa.
ILL LB Martez Wilson: Collected a team-high 12 tackles (two solo) and added a pass breakup, QB hurry and a blocked punt in win over Indiana.
IOWA S Tyler Sash: Registered a game- and career-high 13 tackles (five solo) with one TFL (-8 yards).
OSU LB Andrew Sweat: Produced a team-high eight tackles (five solo) with 2.5 TFLs (-4 yards), a pass breakup and forced fumble in shutout of Purdue.
PSU DB D'Anton Lynn: Posted a career-high 10 tackles (six solo) with 0.5 TFLs (-1 yard), a pass breakup and an interception returned 58 yards at Minnesota.
ILL P Anthony Santella: Registered five punts for 228 yards (45.6 avg.) with three inside the 20-yard line and a long of 56 yards against Indiana.
IOWA P Ryan Donahue: Recorded two punts for 121 yards (60.5 avg.), including a 71-yarder which ranked as the fourth-longest boot of his career.
PSU P Anthony Fera: Registered six punts for 271 yards (45.2 avg.) with four inside the 20-yard line and a long of 61 yards.