Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Nov. 17
Nov. 17, 2008
2008 BIG TEN FOOTBALL HONORS ANNOUNCED EXCLUSIVELY ON BIG TEN TONIGHT
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Big Ten Title on the Line in Ohio and Pennsylvania: With one game remaining, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State all maintain hopes of winning the 2008 Big Ten Championship. The three-time defending champion Buckeyes will get the first shot at the title on Saturday when they host Michigan at Ohio Stadium. With a victory, OSU will clinch a share of its fourth straight conference crown, becoming the first team to finish first in four straight seasons since Michigan won at least a share of five consecutive championships from 1988-92. The last time the Buckeyes won at least part of four straight titles was when the program set a conference-record with six straight crowns from 1972-77. Ohio State has won 32 Big Ten titles, which ranks second only to the Wolverines' sum of 42. On Saturday afternoon, the Spartans and Nittany Lions will square off at Beaver Stadium with the victor guaranteed at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. PSU is aiming for its third conference crown and second title in the last four years after sharing first place with OSU in 2005. MSU has won six Big Ten Championships and will be looking for its first title since finishing in a four-way tie for first place in 1990.
Battle for BCS Automatic Berth: Along with winning the Big Ten title, one team will earn the conference's automatic berth into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). With a win over Michigan State, Penn State will nab the automatic spot in the BCS regardless of the results of the Michigan-Ohio State game. Even if the Buckeyes defeat the Wolverines, the Nittany Lions would win the tie-breaker based on their triumph over OSU on Oct. 25. Ohio State can clinch the automatic BCS bid with a win over Michigan combined with an MSU victory over PSU. In that case, the Buckeyes would win the tie-breaker against the Spartans based on Ohio State's win over Michigan State on Oct. 18. MSU has the most challenging road to the automatic berth, needing a road win at PSU combined with a Michigan win over OSU, which would give the Spartans sole possession of the conference crown. The Big Ten's BCS automatic qualifier will play in the Rose Bowl unless that team is ranked No. 1 or 2 in the final BCS rankings, in which case that team would participate in the BCS National Championship Game.
PSU Joins 10-Win Club: Penn State improved to 10-1 last weekend to crack double-digits in victories for the second time in four seasons and the sixth time since joining the conference in 1993. The Nittany Lions ended the 2005 campaign with a record of 11-1 and also tallied double-digits in wins during the 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999 seasons. Michigan State and Ohio State both stand at 9-2 this season and can secure their 10th wins in their regular season finales. The last time MSU won 10 or more games was in 1999. OSU is looking to crack double-digits for the fourth straight year, which would mark the longest streak of double-digit victories for the school since racking up 10 or more triumphs during the 1995-98 seasons.
Michigan-Ohio State Game Impacts Big Ten Race Again: For the ninth straight season, the Michigan-Ohio State season finale will have a direct impact on the Big Ten Championship race. The Buckeyes enter the season finale with a conference record of 6-1 and can clinch at least a share of their fourth straight Big Ten crown with a victory. In every year since the 2000 campaign, at least one of these two teams has entered this game with a shot at the conference crown. The last Michigan-Ohio State game to have no impact on the Big Ten title chase occurred in 1999, when Wisconsin clinched the title in the second-to-last weekend with a 7-1 mark before the Wolverines improved to 6-2 with a win over the Buckeyes in the final weekend.
Tressel Targeting Rare Coaching Fraternity: After winning four Big Ten Championships in his first seven seasons in Columbus, Ohio State's Jim Tressel will join an elite group of coaches if he can lead his team to a fifth crown this season. In the previous 112 years of Big Ten football, only three other coaches have earned five or more titles in their first eight years with a Big Ten institution. Michigan's Bo Schembechler holds the Big Ten record by finishing first in six of his first eight campaigns from 1969-76. Fellow-Wolverine Fielding Yost collected five championships from 1901-08, while Minnesota's Bernie Bierman won five titles from 1932-39. Last season, Tressel became the first Buckeyes mentor and just the seventh coach in conference annals to produce four titles in their first seven years on campus, a group that also included Illinois' Bob Zuppke (four from 1913-19), Michigan's Harry Kipke (four from 1929-35) and Minnesota's Henry Williams (four from 1900-06).
More on the Four: Tressel is also aiming to become just the fifth coach in Big Ten history to win four straight titles and the first since fellow-Buckeye Woody Hayes claimed a school-record six straight crowns from 1972-77. The other mentors to finish first in four straight seasons include Schembechler (1971-74), Kipke (1930-33) and Yost (1901-04).
Paterno and Dantonio Aim for Titles: Penn State's Joe Paterno and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio are also looking for Big Ten titles this year. Paterno would earn his third Big Ten crown after finishing first in 1994 and 2005. He would become the 20th head coach to collect three or more Big Ten Championships. Dantonio would become the first Spartans mentor to win a conference title since George Perles earned Big Ten crowns in 1987 and 1990.
Badgers Give Big Ten Seven Bowl-Eligible Squads: Wisconsin knocked off Minnesota to earn its sixth victory and become the Big Ten's seventh bowl-eligible team, joining Penn State (10-1), Michigan State (9-2), Ohio State (9-2), Northwestern (8-3), Iowa (7-4) and Minnesota (7-4). The Badgers are aiming to extend their 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. 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 Stand One Win From Bowl-Eligibility: After falling to Ohio State on Saturday, Illinois' bowl hopes will be on the line Saturday when the team plays at Northwestern. The Illini stand at 5-6 overall and need a sixth victory to become eligible for postseason play. 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.
Greene's Quest for Eight Hundreds: Iowa's Shonn Greene broke loose for 211 rushing yards against Purdue to post his 11th effort of 100 yards or more in as many games this season. The junior running back, who leads the conference and ranks second nationally in rushing for all games, has now surpassed the century mark in each of his seven Big Ten outings this year. The last conference player to break the 100-yard rushing mark in all eight Big Ten games was Penn State's Curtis Enis in 1997. Wisconsin's Anthony Davis cracked the 100-yard mark in each of his seven conference contests in 2001 but did not play in one game. Greene will look to post his eighth game of 100 or more rushing yards on Saturday against Minnesota.
Goodbye to the Metrodome: Minnesota will play its 169th and final game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on Saturday when the team hosts Iowa. The Gophers are in their 27th season at the Metrodome and have built a record of 87-79-2 since playing their first contest at the facility in 1982. Next season, Minnesota will move into TCF Bank Stadium, a 50,000-seat, open-air facility which began construction in the summer of 2007. TCF Bank Stadium will be the first new stadium built by a Big Ten school in nearly 50 years, as Indiana's Memorial Stadium was constructed in 1960. The Gophers are set to host Air Force on Sept. 12, 2009, marking the first time since 1981 that college football will be played on campus at the university.
Big Ten Nears Another Record for Sellouts: After producing four packed houses in five games on Saturday, the Big Ten has now posted 38 sellouts on the year, just four shy of the conference record of 42 full houses established last season. Big Ten schools now boast 38 sellouts in 71 games so far, with six more home outings scheduled for the final weekend of regular-season play. The Big Ten is also on pace to crack the five-million barrier in total attendance for the third straight year and just the sixth time in conference history, with a total of 4,944,197 fans flocking to Big Ten stadiums for 71 contests this season.
Penn State Looks to Join 800-Win Club: Penn State earned the 799th victory in program history on Saturday with a win over Indiana. The Nittany Lions will be looking to earn their 800th all-time triumph on Saturday against Michigan State and join a prestigious group in the process. Currently, only five schools boast 800 or more victories, including a pair of Big Ten teams. Michigan holds the national record with 872 triumphs all-time and is joined by Notre Dame (830 wins), Texas (830), Nebraska (815) and Ohio State (807), which joined 800-plus victory club earlier this season.
Trophy Games Abound in Final Weekend: Four of the Big Ten's 15 traditional trophies will be on the line in the final weekend of regular-season play, as the only non-trophy conference game will be the 105th meeting between Michigan and Ohio State. Below is a breakdown of this week's trophy games:
Floyd of Rosedale: For the 74th time since 1935, Iowa and Minnesota will square off for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. After the Hawkeyes lost the 1935 game, Iowa governor Clyde Herring presented Minnesota governor Floyd B. Olson with Floyd of Rosedale, a full-blooded champion pig, as the result of a bet made prior to the contest. Olson commissioned a statue to capture Floyd's image, which resulted in a bronze pig 21 inches long and 15 inches high. The two teams have played for the statue ever since. Minnesota holds a 39-32-2 advantage but Iowa reclaimed the trophy last season.
Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy: Two in-state rivals will square off for a traditional trophy when Illinois and Northwestern compete for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy. The Illini maintain a 33-28-2 record in this trophy game, including reclaiming the Tomahawk last season with their first triumph over the Wildcats since 2002.
Old Oaken Bucket: Another pair of in-state rivals will be in action when Indiana and Purdue battle for the Old Oaken Bucket for the 74th time since 1925. The Boilermakers hold a 54-26-3 advantage in Bucket games, but the Hoosiers reclaimed the trophy last season with their first win in the series since 2001. The two programs will be playing for the 111th time overall, the second-longest rivalry in conference annals behind the 118 games played by Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Land Grant Trophy: One of the newest trophies will be up for grabs when Michigan State and Penn State square off for the Land Grant Trophy. The Nittany Lions hold an 11-4 edge in these trophy games, but the Spartans reclaimed the trophy last season with their first victory over PSU since 2003.
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