Nov. 19, 2012
Ohio State Clinches Outright Division Title: With its 21-14 overtime victory on the road against Wisconsin on Saturday, Ohio State claimed the outright Leaders Division crown. Boasting a 7-0 record in conference play, and a perfect 5-0 mark within the division, the Buckeyes sealed the outright title after earning at least a share of the title a week ago. Ohio State wins its first divisional championship and can end the season with a perfect 8-0 mark in Big Ten play with a victory over Michigan on Saturday.
Legends Division Race: The Legends Division berth to the Big Ten Football Championship Game will come down to the final week of the regular season, as Michigan and Nebraska enter the weekend with matching 6-1 marks in conference play. A Nebraska victory over Iowa on Friday would clinch the Huskers’ berth in Indianapolis, while Michigan would not only need to win at Ohio State on Saturday, but need Nebraska to lose to the Hawkeyes on Friday. With Nebraska owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over Michigan, the Huskers would receive the berth in the championship game if both teams finish with matching conference marks. Should both teams finish with matching conference records, each would be honored as Legends Division Co-Champion.
Rare Company: Ohio State improved its overall record to 11-0 with Saturday’s victory, and is one of just two teams in the country to boast an unblemished records this season. The Buckeyes join Notre Dame as the only two undefeated teams in the country, with the Irish also holding an 11-0 mark with one game to play. Ohio State can finish the regular season undefeated for the first time since its 2002 national championship season, and eyes its 10th undefeated campaign in program history, with a victory against the Wolverines in Columbus on Saturday.
Elite Coaching Starts: Only seven first-year coaches in the Big Ten have won 10 or more games in their debut seasons, and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is one of three current Big Ten coaches to have won 11 or more contests in their first year on campus. Leading the Buckeyes to an 11-0 start, Meyer joins Michigan’s Brady Hoke as two of three coaches in conference history to win 11 contests in their first seasons, joining former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, who won 11 games in 1979. Hoke, who recorded an 11-2 record in his debut season with the Wolverines in 2011, Meyer and Bruce are second behind Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who won 12 games in his first season with the Badgers in 2006. Meyer’s 11 consecutive victories to start his Buckeye tenure is the fourth-best start by a new Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coach, trailing Larry Coker of Miami (Fla.), who won 24 straight games, Boise State’s Chris Petersen (14 straight) and BYU’s Gary Crowton (12 straight).
One Win for the Bowl: Two Big Ten teams need victories on Saturday to become bowl eligible. Michigan State can earn bowl eligibility with a road victory at Minnesota. The Spartans have advanced to 22 bowl games in their history, 21 as a Big Ten member, and five consecutive postseason appearances. Purdue could end the year on a three-game winning streak should it knock off Indiana on Saturday, making the Boilermakers bowl eligible for the second straight season and 17th time overall. The pair looks to join Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin as the Big Ten’s bowl-eligible squads.
Four Divisional Matchups in Final Weekend: In the final weekend of the regular season, four intra-division games highlight the schedule with Nebraska needing a victory against Iowa on Friday to complete a perfect season within the Legends Division, a feat already achieved by Ohio State in the Leaders Division. A win not only secures Nebraska an unblemished slate within the division, but also a spot in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. In other divisional games this weekend, Purdue hosts Indiana, Penn State welcomes Wisconsin, and Minnesota takes on Michigan State.
Nobody’s Got More: With his second-quarter touchdown on Saturday against Ohio State, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball tied the NCAA career touchdowns record with the 78th of his career, matching the mark set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio). He also become the Big Ten’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, now with 72 in his career, passing the 71 career rushing scores by former Badger Ron Dayne. Ball is among the conference’s top 10 in career rushing yards, ranking sixth all-time with 4,727 yards.
Looking to Finish on Top: With one week remaining in the regular season, Big Ten standouts are jockeying for position with hopes of ending the year as statistical champions in conference games only. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball is poised to win back-to-back rushing titles, averaging 151 yards per conference game. It would mark the third time in the last four seasons a Badger running back has led the Big Ten in rushing. In total offense, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez is averaging 306.1 yards per contest. If he were to maintain that average, it would rank as the fourth-most yardage per game by the conference leader in the last 10 seasons. Penn State’s Allen Robinson is poised to become the first Nittany Lion to lead the Big Ten in receiving yards, currently at 82.7 yards per game, and the second to top the conference in receptions at 6.3 per game, following former Penn State wideout Bobby Engram in 1995. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Ball are tied as the conference leaders in scoring, with each averaging 12.0 points per game. Hyde would become the first Buckeye to lead the Big Ten in scoring since Eddie George in 1995. Should Ball finish atop the standings, it would mark the sixth time in the last eight seasons a Badger player has finished has the Big Ten leader in scoring.
Renewing Old Rivalries: Three of the conference’s longest running series will be renewed this weekend. In the second-oldest rivalry in the conference, Purdue hosts Indiana for the teams’ 115th meeting on Saturday with the Old Oaken Bucket up for grabs. The bucket has been awarded annually since 1925, with Purdue holding a 57-27-3 advantage with the trophy at stake. Ohio State meets Michigan for the 109th time overall, the third-longest running conference rivalry. Last season, Michigan, who hadn’t defeated the Buckeyes since 2003, broke its losing streak and holds a 58-44-6 overall advantage in the series. Meeting for the 106th time, which is tied for the fourth-longest running series in the Big Ten, Northwestern hosts Illinois in the annual battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy, with Illinois holding a 54-46-5 overall advantage in the series. One other conference rivalry trophy will be up for grabs on Saturday, as Iowa hosts Nebraska in the second annual battle for the Heroes Trophy.
Surpassing Five-Million: For the 10th time in conference history, and eighth consecutive season, the Big Ten surpassed the five-million mark in total attendance after last weekend’s slate of games. An average of more than 80,000 patrons flocked to the six Big Ten stadiums last weekend, bringing the conference’s yearly attendance total to more than 5.4 million. Conference stadiums are welcoming an average of 70,826 fans per contest among all games, while averaging 71,314 patrons per game during Big Ten games only, marks which would rank sixth all-time in conference history in their respective categories. Last season, the Big Ten posted a single-season attendance record by welcoming more than six million fans to home campuses.