Nov. 12, 2012
Wisconsin Heading Back to Indianapolis: With a victory at Indiana on Saturday, Wisconsin punched its ticket to Indianapolis to take part in the second annual Big Ten Football Championship Game. The Badgers will serve as the Leaders Division representative for the second straight season and will face either Michigan or Nebraska from the Legends Division. The Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Lucas Oil Stadium with the winner earning the Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy and a chance to play in the Rose Bowl Game. The Badgers took part in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game last year and earned a 42-39 victory over Michigan State to earn a second straight conference title and trip to Pasadena.
Undefeated Ohio State Earns Share of Leaders Division Title: Despite having a bye last Saturday, Ohio State collected at least a share of the Leaders Division title after Nebraska defeated Penn State. The undefeated Buckeyes boast a 6-0 record in conference play and hold a two-game advantage over both Penn State and Wisconsin with two games to play. Ohio State returns to action on Saturday with a road test against the Badgers before concluding the season with a home matchup with Michigan on Nov. 24. Ohio State is 10-0 overall this season, the fourth time in the last 11 years the school has reeled off 10 wins to start the season.
Down the Stretch They Come: Three teams remain in the running for the Legends Division title with Michigan and Nebraska tied for first at 5-1 and Northwestern two games back at 3-3 with two games to play. However, only the Wolverines and Cornhuskers can earn a trip to Indianapolis, as even if the Wildcats end the year tied in first at 5-3, Nebraska would win the three-team tiebreaker based on their 2-0 record amongst the group. If Michigan or Nebraska wins on Saturday, Northwestern will be eliminated from the division title race. If Michigan wins and Nebraska loses, Michigan will clinch at least a share of the division title but not a title game berth since the Cornhuskers can still tie for the division title and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wolverines. If Nebraska wins and Michigan loses, Nebraska will secure at least a share of the division title and a championship game spot. If both teams win or lose, the division title and championship game berth will be determined by each program’s regular season finale.
In the Hunt for the Leaders Division Crown: Penn State and Wisconsin each still have an opportunity to earn a share of the Leaders Division crown, needing two Buckeye losses in the last two weeks, but only one can potentially finished tied with Ohio State at the top of the standings. Wisconsin hosts Ohio State on Saturday, where a Buckeyes’ victory would give them the outright division title. A Wisconsin win brings the Badgers to within one game of the division leader. Penn State welcomes Indiana on Saturday, needing a win to maintain its hopes of sharing the divisional crown. Should both teams win this weekend, Penn State would host Wisconsin on Nov. 24, with only one potentially able to share the division crown.
A Full Slate of Division Matchups: This weekend, all six conference contests will be divisional matchups featuring three Legends Division and three Leaders Division games. Legends Division co-leaders Michigan and Nebraska each are at home on Saturday as the Wolverines host Iowa and the Huskers welcome Minnesota, and Michigan State takes on Northwestern. In the Leaders Division, undefeated Ohio State travels to Wisconsin, Penn State welcomes Indiana and Illinois hosts Purdue. As part of divisional play, the Big Ten has 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. See Page 11 of this release for the full tiebreaker.
Running Into the Top 10: The Wisconsin rushing attack completed one of the most successful efforts in a single game in conference history, rushing for 564 yards against Indiana on Saturday. That total is the sixth most in a game in Big Ten history, and the most by a conference team since 1994, when the Hoosiers also finished with 564 rushing yards in a non-conference game against Kentucky. It is the fourth-highest total in conference games only, and the most since Michigan rushed for 573 yards against Northwestern in 1975. Three Wisconsin players rushed for more than 95 yards in the game, with Montee Ball rushing for 198 yards, James White totaling 161yards and Melvin Gordon finishing with 96 yards
Nearing the Record: Adding three more touchdowns to his career total following Wisconsin’s contest against Indiana on Saturday, Montee Ball continues his climb up the Big Ten and NCAA record charts. He is tied with former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne for the most rushing scores in Big Ten history, now with 71. In addition, Ball now has 77 total touchdowns in his career, which is one away from the all-time NCAA record held by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio). With 198 yards on the ground against the Hoosiers, Ball also rose into the top 10 all-time in Big Ten history in rushing yards with 4,536, which ranks eighth all-time.
Minnesota Becomes Fifth Bowl Eligible Squad: With its victory at Illinois on Saturday, Minnesota won its sixth game of the season to become the fifth Big Ten squad to earn bowl eligibility. The Gophers are eligible to appear in their first postseason game since 2009, when they appeared in the Insight Bowl. Minnesota, which eyes its 15th overall appearance in program history, joins Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin as the Big Ten’s bowl eligible squads this season. Four other Big Ten teams are within two games of the six-win standard. Michigan State needs one victory, while Indiana, Iowa and Purdue need two wins in the final two weekends of the season to reach bowl eligibility.
More Than a Win at Stake: In a conference with 16 traditional rivalry trophies, one traveling keepsake will be up for grabs this week. Illinois hosts Purdue on Saturday, the 61st meeting between the teams with the Purdue Cannon at stake. The Boilermakers hold a 31-27-2 advantage in the series, but the Illini enjoy a 42-39-6 overall advantage.
Classroom Performers: Big Ten student-athletes continue to excel both on the field and in the classroom, as 19 standouts were named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District Football Teams. The conference’s honorees are Indiana’s Mark Murphy and Adam Replogle, Iowa’s Steve Bigach, James Morris and James Vandenberg, Michigan State’s Max Bullough and Mike Sadler, Minnesota’s John Rabe, Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead, Sean Fisher, Jake Long and Spencer Long, Northwestern’s Brian Arnfelt and Patrick Ward, Penn State’s Brad Bars, Ben Kline, Pete Massaro and John Urschel and Wisconsin’s Michael Trotter. 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. First-team selections will be added to the national ballot and are eligible for Academic All-America honors to be announced on December 6.