Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Nov. 10

Iowa running back Shonn Greene led the Hawkeyes past Penn State to become bowl-eligible.

Iowa running back Shonn Greene led the Hawkeyes past Penn State to become bowl-eligible.

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Nov. 10, 2008

FACES OF THE BIG TEN

DAVID MOOSMAN, michigan junior offensive lineman
In his first year as a starter, Moosman has remained faithful to his commitment at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. He began visiting the hospital and its critically ill children as a freshman and developed a particularly strong bond with a physically and developmentally handicapped patient named Gabby Pennell. Moosman returned to Mott each week and his visits with Gabby and her family made an immediate impact. She would get well enough to leave the hospital but each time she had complications, the Pennells would call Moosman for another visit. Doctors have been amazed by Gabby's resilience to her illness and as a dream come true, she was able to attend the Illinois game at Michigan Stadium to see her idol in action

BIG TEN NETWORK TO ANNOUNCE BIG TEN HONORS ON NOV. 24

The Big Ten Network will present the live, exclusive announcement of the 2008 All-Big Ten football teams and individual honors during a special edition of Big Ten Tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT on Monday, Nov. 24. Dave Revsine will host the announcement alongside analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, with select award winners joining them during the 30-minute program. The special edition of Big Ten Tonight will reveal the All-Big Ten teams as selected by both the coaches and the media. Coaches and media each will select a Big Ten Offensive Player, Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year. Media will also honor the Dave McClain Coach of the Year while the coaches will pick an Offensive and Defensive Lineman of the Year.

BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.

MSU, OSU and PSU Battle for Big Ten Crown: With Iowa handing Penn State its first loss thanks to a last-second field goal on Saturday, Michigan State rose to first-place in the conference standings while Ohio State's hopes for a fourth straight conference title remained alive.   With two weekends left to play, below is a breakdown of the Big Ten title contenders:
Michigan State: The Spartans knocked off Purdue on Saturday to improve to 6-1 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1987, when MSU jumped out to a 6-0-1 record on the way to a 7-0-1 mark and a conference crown. The last time Michigan State won six conference games was in 1999, when the school tied for second with a 6-2 record. The Spartans have a bye next weekend before facing a road test at Penn State with a chance to clinch at least a share of their first Big Ten Championship since 1990.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are now 5-1 in conference and conclude regular-season action with two home games against Indiana and Michigan State. PSU is looking for it second title in the last four years, after sharing the crown with Ohio State in 2005.
Ohio State: The three-time defending champion Buckeyes were victorious at Northwestern to improve to 5-1 on the season, with a game at Illinois next weekend before hosting Michigan in the regular-season finale. OSU is aiming to become the first team to earn at least a share of four straight Big Ten crowns since the Wolverines finished first in five straight seasons from 1988-92.

Road Warriors: With three more road triumphs last Saturday, Big Ten teams are now 17-17 away from home in conference play this year, equaling the number of road triumphs in Big Ten action for the entire 2007 campaign. Big Ten programs are on pace to finish .500 or better on the road for the first time since the 1999 season, when schools produced a 23-21 mark away from home in conference play. Last season, Big Ten schools produced a record of 17-27 away from home with only three teams boasting winning road records in conference play. With wins by Michigan (at Minnesota) and Wisconsin (at Indiana) last weekend, nine of the 11 conference teams have won at least one Big Ten road game and five schools have won two or more games. Also on Saturday, Ohio State improved to 3-0 on the road by defeating Northwestern. The Buckeyes joined Michigan State (3-0) and Penn State (3-1) with three Big Ten triumphs in enemy territory this year. In addition, OSU has now won a school-record 14 straight Big Ten road games, the second-longest streak of success in conference history, trailing only Michigan's 17-game road winning streak from 1988 to 1992. The Buckeyes will look to extend that streak next weekend when they wrap up their road slate at Illinois.

Hawkeyes Join Big Ten Bowl Pool: Iowa (6-4) edged Penn State to earn its sixth victory and become the Big Ten's sixth bowl-eligible team, joining the Nittany Lions (9-1), Michigan State (9-2), Ohio State (8-2), Minnesota (7-3) and Northwestern (7-3). The Hawkeyes were bowl eligible in each of the previous seven seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz, but did not play in a bowl last year despite their 6-6 record. Iowa is looking to return to postseason action for the first time since the 2006 Alamo Bowl. 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. 8, 2009 in Miami, Fla.

Illini and Badgers Just One Win From Bowl-Eligibility: With two games to play, Illinois and Wisconsin both stand at 5-5 overall and need one more victory to become eligible for postseason play. The Illini wrap up the season hosting Ohio State and playing at Northwestern, while the Badgers conclude Big Ten play at home against Minnesota before finishing non-conference action with a home matchup against Cal-Poly. Head coach Ron Zook is looking to lead Illinois to consecutive bowl appearances for the first time since the program reached the postseason in five straight seasons from 1988-92. Wisconsin is aiming to extend its school-record streak of postseason play to seven straight bowl games, including bowl trips in each of head coach Bret Bielema's first two seasons.
 
Big Ten Standouts Named Semifinalists for National Awards: Eleven Big Ten players were tabbed as semifinalists for a variety of national honors including the Maxwell, Bednarik, Lou Groza and Ray Guy Awards. Running backs Shonn Greene of Iowa and Javon Ringer of Michigan State were joined by Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark on the list of semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, granted to the nation's top college player. Fourteen Big Ten standouts have claimed the Maxwell Award, most recently when PSU's Larry Johnson was honored in 2002. On the defensive side of the ball, the Ohio State duo of cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and linebacker James Laurinaitis and Nittany Lions defensive end Aaron Maybin were named semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, earned by the country's top defensive player. The Big Ten has taken home the Bednarik Award on seven occasions, including each of the last three years by Penn State standouts Paul Posluszny (2005 and 2006) and Dan Connor (2007). On special teams, PSU's Kevin Kelly and Wisconsin's Phillip Welch were named semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top place kicker. Two Big Ten kickers have earned the Groza Award in Iowa's Nate Kaeding (2002) and Ohio State's Mike Nugent (2004). Three Big Ten players were tabbed semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, granted to the country's top punter, including Iowa's Ryan Donahue, Michigan's Zoltan Mesko and OSU's A.J. Trapasso. Three conference punters have taken home the Ray Guy Award, most recently the Buckeyes' B.J. Sander in 2003. The complete list of players still in the running for national awards appears on page seven of this release.

Four Big Ten Coaches Named Semifinalists for National Honor: In addition to the national award candidates on the field, the Big Ten tied the Big 12 for the national lead with four mentors named semifinalists for the George Munger Award, given to the nation's top head coach. The four Big Ten semifinalists are Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Minnesota's Tim Brewster, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Penn State's Joe Paterno. Big Ten mentors have earned the Munger Award on five occasions since it was introduced in 1989, including twice by Paterno in 1994 and 2005. Other Munger Award winners from the Big Ten are Michigan's Lloyd Carr (1997) and Bo Schembechler (1989) and Northwestern's Gary Barnett (1995).

Playing Smart Football: Big Ten student-athletes continue to excel both on the field and in the classroom, as 29 conference standouts were named to the Academic All-District Teams presented by ESPN The Magazine , including 23 first-team selections. The conference's list of first-team honorees included Illinois' Jon Asamoah and Ryan McDonald, Indiana's Austin Starr, Iowa's Rob Bruggeman, Anton Narinskiy and Julian Vandervelde, Michigan State's Andrew Hawken and Blair White, Minnesota's Eric Decker and Jeff Tow-Arnett, Northwestern's Phil Brunner, Ohio State's Marcus Freeman and Brian Robiskie, Penn State's Jeremy Boone, Gerald Cadogan, Pat Devlin, Josh Hull, Andrew Pitz, Mark Rubin and Stefen Wisniewski, Purdue's Joe Holland and Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin's Zach Brown. The Nittany Lions and Dayton led the University Division with seven Academic All-District honorees, a new school record. Second-team picks included the Spartans' Aaron Bates and Adam Decker and the Buckeyes' Bryant Browning, Brian Hartline, Andrew Miller and Andrew Moses. To be eligible for the award, a player must be in at least his second year of athletic eligibility, be a first-team or key performer and carry a cumulative 3.30 grade point average. This GPA standard is higher than the 3.2 required in previous years. First-team selections will be added to the national ballot and are eligible for Academic All-America honors to be announced on November 25. The Big Ten led all conferences with eight Academic All-Americans last season, including four first-team honorees who are aiming for back-to-back accolades in Illinois' McDonald, Indiana's Starr, Ohio State's Robiskie and Penn State's Cadogan.

Two More Trophy Games: In a conference with 15 traditional trophy games, two more trophies will be up for grabs this weekend when Minnesota and Wisconsin battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe and Illinois and Ohio State play for the Illibuck. Last weekend, the conference's oldest trophy was on the line as the Wolverines defeated the Gophers to maintain possession of the Little Brown Jug for the third straight year.
Paul Bunyan's Axe: The Gophers and Badgers resume the longest rivalry in Football Bowl Subdivision history when the two schools battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. The two teams have played 117 games, beginning in 1890 and played every year consecutively since 1907. The 116-game rivalry between Missouri and Kansas ranked second nationally entering this season. Minnesota and Wisconsin originally played for the Slab of Bacon Trophy, which mysteriously disappeared in the 1940's and was replaced by the axe in 1948. UW holds a 34-23-3 all-time advantage in games played for the axe, including a current four-game winning streak.
The Illibuck: The Illibuck is a wooden replica of the live turtle that was originally shipped between Champaign and Columbus on an annual basis before it passed away in 1927 and is the second-oldest trophy in Big Ten annals. The Illini and Buckeyes have met 81 times for this trophy since 1925, the same year that Indiana and Purdue first competed for the Old Oaken Bucket. The annual struggle for the Little Brown Jug by Michigan and Minnesota, which started in 1909, is the longest-running trophy feud in the conference. Ohio State currently holds a 56-23-2 advantage in Illibuck games, although Illinois knocked off the Buckeyes last year to claim the trophy for the first time since 2001.

Big Ten Schedule Announced for Nov. 22: The following schedule has been confirmed for Nov. 22.
Indiana at Purdue, Noon EST, ESPN2
Michigan at Ohio State, Noon EST, ABC
Cal-Poly at Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. CST, Big Ten Network
Illinois at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m. CST, Big Ten Network
Michigan State at Penn State, 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
Iowa at Minnesota, 6 p.m. CST, Big Ten Network

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS

OFFENSE:
IOWA RB Shonn Greene:
Posted 117 yards on 28 carries (4.2 avg.) with two TDs for his 10th 100-yard effort on the season in a win over PSU.
MICH QB Nick Sheridan: Made second career start and completed 18-of-30 passes (60.0 pct.) for a career-best 203 yards with a TD and added 33 rushing yards in victory at Minnesota.
MSU RB Javon Ringer: Collected 121 yards on 32 carries (3.8 avg.) with two TDs against Purdue.
PSU WR Derrick Williams: Accumulated 154 all-purpose yards, including 53 yards on a career-high 12 rushes (4.4 avg.) with a TD, four receptions for 43 yards (10.8 avg.) and four kickoff returns for 58 yards (14.5 avg.) while completing a 23-yard pass.
PUR RB Kory Sheets: Broke the 1,000-yard mark on the year with 93 yards on 22 carries (4.2 avg.).

DEFENSE:
ILL LB Brit Miller:
Racked up 17 tackles (nine solo), a forced fumble and 1.5 TFLs (-9 yards), including a nine-yard sack, against Western Michigan.
MICH S Brandon Harrison: Collected five tackles (four solo) and two TFLs (-10 yards), including a six-yard sack to help hold the Gophers to six points.
MSU LB Greg Jones: Became first Spartan since 2002 to produce double-digit tackles in five straight games with 12 stops (seven solo) against Purdue.
OSU LB James Laurinaitis: Registered 11 tackles (two solo) with an interception at NU.
PSU DT Jared Odrick: Recorded a career-high seven tackles (four solo) and added two sacks (-11 yards) and a forced fumble against Iowa.
PUR LB Anthony Heygood: Collected 14 tackles (five solo), one TFL (-2 yards) and a PBU.
WIS S Jay Valai: Posted a career-best 10 tackles (eight solo) and also forced a fumble at Indiana.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
IND KR Demetrius McCray:
Returned eight kickoffs for a career-high 191 yards (23.9 avg.), the second-best yardage total in school history.
MSU P Aaron Bates: Booted five punts for 217 yards (43.4 avg.) with two inside the 20-yard line.
IOWA K Daniel Murray: Connected on his only field goal attempt from 31 yards with one second left to give Iowa a 24-23 win over Penn State.
PSU K Kevin Kelly: Became Big Ten's all-time leader with 75 career field goals after hitting all three attempts (24, 31, 25 yards) at Iowa.