Nov. 30, 2009
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Juice Shatters 10,000-Yard Barrier: In the only Big Ten game last weekend, Illinois quarterback Juice Williams became just the sixth player in conference history to surpass the 10,000-yard mark in total offensive yards for a career. The senior quarterback compiled 349 yards of total offense at nationally ranked Cincinnati to boost his career numbers to 10,327 yards, making him the first Illini to break the 10,000-yard barrier. Williams passed Iowa's Chuck Long (10,254 yards from 1981-85) and now ranks fifth in Big Ten history. He also boosted his career numbers to 2,501 career rushing yards, a total that ranks second only to Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (3,895 yards from 1998-2001) among conference quarterbacks.
Iowa, Ohio State and Penn State Reach 10-Win Plateau: For the first time since 2006, three Big Ten schools have posted 10 or more triumphs in a single season after Iowa, Ohio State and Penn State all recorded their 10th victories in their regular-season finales. The Hawkeyes reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since recording three straight seasons of 10 or more triumphs in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Buckeyes posted at least 10 wins for the fifth straight year, breaking the previous program record of four straight seasons with 10-plus victories set from 1995-98. Ohio State is only the second team in Big Ten history to record five straight years of 10 or more triumphs and the first in more than a century, as Michigan posted five consecutive seasons with 10-plus wins from 1901-05. The Nittany Lions cracked double-digits in victories for the second straight year for the first time since the 1993 and 1994 campaigns.
Wisconsin Seeks 10-Win Season: With two games remaining, Wisconsin still maintains hopes of reaching the 10-win plateau. The Badgers are 8-3 on the season and play at Hawaii on Saturday night, before closing out the season with a bowl game. Wisconsin has produced five seasons with double-digit triumphs, including the 1993, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2006 campaigns. If the Badgers hit the 10-win mark, the Big Ten will boast four teams with 10 or more victories for just the third time in conference history. Both the 1999 and 2003 seasons concluded with four conference schools producing 10 or more triumphs.
Big Ten Nears Overall Attendance Record: With only one home contest remaining, the Big Ten has a chance to break the conference record for total attendance in all games when Illinois hosts Fresno State on Saturday. The Big Ten has surpassed the five-million mark in overall attendance for the fifth straight season and just the seventh time in conference history with 5,477,699 fans attending 76 contests so far this year. The conference record was set in 2002 when 5,499,439 patrons went through the turnstiles for 78 contests. In addition to total attendance, the Big Ten is averaging 72,075 fans in 76 home games, which currently ranks as the second-best average attendance in conference annals behind only the 2005 campaign, when the Big Ten averaged 72,566 patrons per outing. In conference games only, the Big Ten broke the three-million barrier with 3,127,311 attending 44 contests on the year, an average of 71,075 attendees per game. Both the total and average attendance numbers in conference games only rank fifth in Big Ten history, marking only the fifth time in history the Big Ten has surpassed 3.1 million fans and more than 71,000 per contest.
Buckeyes Secure Outright Big Ten Championship: With a chance to clinch the outright Big Ten Championship for the third time in the last four seasons, Ohio State went on the road to defeat Michigan to end the regular season alone atop the standings. The Buckeyes have now won at least a share of the last five titles, splitting the crown with Penn State in 2005 and 2008 and ending the 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons alone atop the standings. The Buckeyes have compiled a Big Ten mark of 36-4 over the last five years. Ohio State is the first conference team in over 15 years to finish in first place in five straight seasons since Michigan won at least a share of five consecutive championships from 1988-92. OSU has clinched five consecutive crowns for the first time since posting a Big Ten-record six straight titles from 1972-77. Michigan and Ohio State are the only two teams in Big Ten annals to post four or more consecutive first-place finishes on multiple occasions, accomplishing the feat a combined seven different times.
Ohio State Claims Sixth Big Ten Title in Last Decade: Ohio State tops all Big Ten schools with six titles over the last decade, including first-place finishes in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Michigan ranks second with three championships over that time span (2000, 2003, 2004), followed by a pair of first-place finishes for Iowa (2002, 2004) and Penn State (2005, 2008) and one title for Illinois (2001), Northwestern (2000) and Purdue (2000). Overall, seven schools have won at least one title in the last decade.
More on OSU's Six Pack: The Buckeyes are one of only three Big Ten programs to claim six or more titles over a 10-year span and the first since the Wolverines finished in first place six times between 1989-98. The last time OSU won six or more crowns in a decade was when the school finished first on six occasions from 1975-84. Ohio State holds the conference record with nine Big Ten Championships over a 10-year span, accomplishing the feat from 1968-77. The Buckeyes have also won eight titles over 10 years on three occasions (1972-81, 1970-79 and 1969-78), a streak of success matched only by Michigan (eight from 1971-80 and 1969-78). Minnesota is the only other Big Ten team to finish first six or more times in a 10-year span, with seven titles from 1933-41 and six crowns from 1903-11.
Buckeyes Earn BCS Bid: Ohio State collected the Big Ten's automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth for the fourth time and will take part in a BCS game for the fifth straight season and the eighth time since the system's creation in 1998. Entering this season, the Buckeyes were tied with Oklahoma and Southern California as the only three teams to take part in seven BCS contests. In addition, only one other team has appeared in five or more consecutive BCS games, as Southern California has appeared in a BCS contest in each of the last seven seasons (2002-08). OSU previously earned the Big Ten's BCS automatic bid in 2002, 2006 and 2007. The Buckeyes are one of six Big Ten schools in the 12 years of the BCS to gain automatic qualification, joining Illinois (2001), Michigan (2003, 2004), Penn State (2005, 2008), Purdue (2000) and Wisconsin (1998, 1999). Overall, the Big Ten entered the 2009 campaign with a conference-best 19 BCS berths in its first 11 years of existence, sending a second team to the BCS in 1998 (Ohio State), 1999 (Michigan), 2002 (Iowa), 2003 (Ohio State), 2005 (Ohio State), 2006 (Michigan), 2007 (Illinois) and 2008 (Ohio State).
Seven Big Ten Teams Set to Go Bowling: The Big Ten's bowl participants have been finalized with seven programs earning postseason bids. Ohio State (10-2) has collected the conference's automatic BCS berth, while Iowa (10-2), Penn State (10-2), Wisconsin (8-3), Northwestern (8-4), Michigan State (6-6) and Minnesota (6-6) will take part in bowl competition. 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 Little Caesars Pizza 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. 7, 2010, in Pasadena, Calif.
Tressel Joins Rare Coaching Fraternities: Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel joins an elite group of coaches to claim five straight Big Ten titles and six championships in his first nine campaigns. In the previous 113 years of Big Ten football, only one coach had finished atop the conference standings in five or more consecutive years, as the Buckeyes' Woody Hayes earned six straight crowns from 1972-77. In addition, only two coaches had earned six or more titles in their first nine years with a Big Ten institution. Michigan's Bo Schembechler holds the Big Ten record by finishing first in seven of his first nine campaigns from 1969-77, while Minnesota's Bernie Bierman won six titles from 1932-40.
Paterno Still the One: Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 393rd victory on Nov. 21 and currently holds the all-time victory record among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. Paterno stands at 393-129-3 in his 44th season leading the Nittany Lions. Paterno is the longest serving head coach at one school in major college football history. Amos Alonzo Stagg served as head coach at Chicago for 41 years (1892-1932) during his 57-year tenure as a head coach.
Paterno Ends Regular Season Ranked Fifth in Century Club: Penn State's Joe Paterno picked up his 146th triumph since joining the conference to end the regular season ranked fifth on the list of 12 mentors to collect 100 or more wins while at a Big Ten school. Paterno is now 146-62 in 17 seasons since 1993. Paterno needs 19 more triumphs to crack the top four of Michigan's Fielding Yost (165 wins) and Bo Schembechler (194), Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (199) and Ohio State's Woody Hayes (205). Among other active Big Ten coaches, Ohio State's Jim Tressel boasts 93 wins in nine years with the Buckeyes while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz has racked up 80 victories in 11 seasons in Iowa City.
Big Ten Individual Leaders . . . : With the Big Ten season now complete, the conference crowned new statistical champions for conference games only in all categories appearing in the records book. Purdue featured stat leaders in three different categories with quarterback Joey Elliott topping the Big Ten with 282.1 yards of total offense per game and wide receiver Keith Smith leading the conference with 7.88 receptions and 92.8 yards per outing. Elliott becomes the third Boilermakers' signal caller to end the season ranked first in total offense over the last six seasons, joining Curtis Painter (2006) and Kyle Orton (2004). Smith continued Purdue's recent dominance in the category of receptions per game, as a Boilermakers' wideout has ranked first in that category in eight of the last 11 seasons. Other Purdue pass catchers to top the Big Ten in receptions per game over the previous decade include Dorien Bryant (2005 and 2006), Taylor Stubblefield (2002 and 2004), John Standeford (2003), Vinny Sutherland (2000) and Chris Daniels (1999). In the category of receiving yards per contest, Smith is the first Boilermaker to rank first since Daniels in 1999. Penn State's Daryll Clark topped the Big Ten with a pass efficiency rating of 136.6 to become just the second Nittany Lion to end the year first in that category along with Kerry Collins, who led the conference in 1994. Wisconsin's John Clay averaged a conference-best 121.0 rushing yards per game to join P.J. Hill (2006) and Ron Dayne (1996-98-99) as the third Badger to rank first in rushing in the last 15 seasons. Philip Welch became the second Wisconsin kicker in the last four years and the third Badger in the last five seasons to lead the Big Ten in scoring after producing 7.8 points per outing. Wisconsin kicker Taylor Mehlhaff and running back Brian Calhoun were the conference's leading scorers in 2006 and 2005, respectively. Among punters, Michigan's Zoltan Mesko led the way with 45.2 yards per boot to become the first Wolverine to rate first in punting since Paul Staroba in 1970.
. . . and Team Leaders: In team statistics, Big Ten Champion Ohio State ranked first in three of the eight offensive and defensive categories for conference games only, while Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin also ended the season rated first in at least one area. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in scoring defense for the fifth straight season by allowing only 12.6 points per game while also topping the conference in total defense for the sixth time in the last eight seasons by limiting opponents to only 277.9 yards per outing. OSU is the first school since 1936 to rank first in points allowed per contest in five straight campaigns, breaking the previous record of four consecutive seasons set by Michigan from 1969-72. In other defensive categories, Wisconsin edged Ohio State to lead the conference by allowing only 72.0 rushing yards per game. The Badgers topped the conference in rushing defense for the first time since 1951 and also held all eight Big Ten opponents to less than 100 rushing yards, the first defensive unit to accomplish that feat since Ohio State in 1998. Iowa rated first by allowing only 159.0 passing yards per game, the first time the Hawkeyes have led the Big Ten in passing defense since 1984. On the offensive side of the ball, four different teams led in the four major categories. Wisconsin ranked first with 29.5 points per outing to lead the Big Ten in that category for the first time since 1999. Ohio State rated first with 198.6 rushing yards per contest to top the Big Ten for the second straight season and third time in the last four years. Penn State produced 400.6 yards of total offense per game to lead all conference teams and appear first in that category for the first time since 1994. Northwestern ranked first with 270.8 passing yards per contest to end the conference season rated first in that category for third time in the last five years, including the 2005 and 2007 campaigns.