Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Dec. 2
Dec. 2, 2013
B1G MOMENTS IN ROSE BOWL HISTORY: The Tournament of Roses celebrates the 100th Rose Bowl Game this season, part of an historic season that also sees the final installment of the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game contested in Pasadena.
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT: This year, the conference is celebrating 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference's most prestigious award, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." In the 99 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction, which includes nearly 350 football players. Throughout the course of the season, the conference has highlighted previous football standouts who have won the award, featuring some of the legends of the Big Ten who have earned this prominent achievement. A sample of some of the football greats to have won the Big Ten Medal of Honor can be found on Page 10 of this release.
Title Game Matchup: Michigan State and Ohio State will meet in the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Spartans are making their second appearance in the conference championship game, having last appeared in the inaugural contest in 2011. Michigan State eyes its second Big Ten Championship in the last four seasons, having previously earned a share of the conference title in 2010. Ohio State makes its first appearance in the Big Ten Football Championship Game and is seeking its first official conference crown since 2009. Michigan State has won seven Big Ten titles in program history, while Ohio State has officially claimed 34 championships. The teams will compete for the Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy and a chance to play in one of two historic games in Pasadena, Calif. - the 100th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 or the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game on Jan. 6.
History between Michigan State and Ohio State: In the all-time series, the Buckeyes hold a 28-13 advantage, but the teams have split the last two meetings, with each squad winning on the road. Michigan State claimed a 10-7 victory in Columbus in 2011, while Ohio State earned a 17-16 victory in East Lansing a season ago. Last year's contest was a back-and-forth game, highlighted by Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller's 63-yard scoring strike to Devin Smith in the third quarter, giving Ohio State a 17-13 lead. The Spartans added a fourth-quarter field goal, but Ohio State held on for the one-point victory in Urban Meyer's first Big Ten game as a head coach.
How They Got Here: Both Michigan State and Ohio State finished the conference season with matching 8-0 records to win their respective divisions. The Spartans picked up a road victory at Iowa before knocking off Indiana the following week to start Big Ten play 2-0. In its next three games, Michigan State outscored its opponents 85-9 in triumphs over Purdue, Illinois and Michigan before earning at least a share of the Legends Division crown with a win at Nebraska. The Spartans clinched their spot in Indianapolis with a triumph over Northwestern before concluding the year with a victory against Minnesota. After opening Big Ten play with victories over ranked foes Wisconsin and Northwestern, Ohio State finished the first half of the Big Ten season with wins against Iowa and Penn State. Three of the Buckeyes last four games came on the road, posting wins at Purdue and Illinois before securing their spot in Indianapolis in their home finale against Indiana. Ohio State ended the season with a one-point win at Michigan.
A Look at the Spartans: A dominant defense has been one of Michigan State's hallmarks this season. Ranking among the national leaders in numerous defensive categories, the Spartans enter the Big Ten Football Championship Game having held five of their conference opponents to six points or less, all of which have come in their last six games. Linebacker Max Bullough, defensive end Shilique Calhoun and defensive back Darqueze Dennard anchor a defense that ranks first nationally in rushing and total defense. While the Michigan State defense has been a mainstay all season, the Michigan State offense improved throughout the season and is averaging nearly 30 points per contest. Running back Jeremy Langford has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven straight games. Three receivers have caught more than 30 passes each for first-year starter Connor Cook.
A Look at the Buckeyes: The Buckeyes are one of the nation's most balanced teams, ranking among the national top 20 in numerous offensive and defensive categories. On the offensive end, Ohio State has scored 40 or more points in 10 games this season and 50 or more in five of those contests. The Buckeyes are averaging 48.2 points per game and average better than 530 yards per game, both among the top six in the nation. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are among the Big Ten's leaders in rushing, with Hyde averaging a conference-best 143 yards per contest. The Buckeye defense has been equal to the effort of their offense, appearing among the national leaders in scoring, rushing and total defense. Ryan Shazier is the conference leader in tackles and tackles for loss per game, while Noah Spence and Michael Bennett are ranked among the top three in the conference in sacks per game. A talented secondary is led by Bradley Roby, who is among the conference leaders in passes defended this season.
Eight-for-Eight: Michigan State and Ohio State each posted victories in their regular-season finales to finish their Big Ten slates with perfect 8-0 records. It marks the first time two teams finished the Big Ten schedule with perfect conference slates since Iowa and Ohio State did so in 2002, when the Hawkeyes appeared in the Orange Bowl and the Buckeyes earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Prior to 2002, the last time the Big Ten had two teams finish the year with perfect conference records was in 1943 when Michigan and Purdue were each 6-0.
Twenty-Four: Ohio State continued to build on its school-record winning streak after knocking off Michigan last Saturday. The Buckeyes have now won 24 straight games, which is the longest active winning streak in the nation. It marks the longest winning streak by a Big Ten team in more than 60 years and matches the conference's fourth-longest streak in history, equaling the 24 straight triumphs by the 1903-05 Minnesota squads. The Buckeyes also notched a 16th straight conference win, tied for the sixth longest stretch among conference games only in Big Ten history.
BCS Rankings: Three Big Ten programs are ranked among the top 25 in the latest Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, including two among the top 10. Ohio State improved to 12-0 to move up one spot to No. 2 in the BCS poll, the Buckeyes' highest placement since ending the 2007 campaign at No. 1 overall. Michigan State picked up its 11th win and rose one slot to No. 10 in the BCS poll, the Spartans' highest ranking since being ranked No. 9 on Dec. 5, 2010. Wisconsin made its sixth straight appearance in the BCS poll and stands at No. 21 in the BCS standings.
Stat Champions: With the end of the regular season comes the announcement of the annual stat champions for the 2013 season among conference games only. Ohio State's Carlos Hyde finished as the Big Ten rushing leader, averaging 156.1 yards per game, becoming the first Buckeye to lead the conference since Chris Wells in 2007. Hyde also finished the season as the conference scoring leader at 11.2 points per game, equaling his Big Ten-leading mark from a season ago. Teammate Braxton Miller led the conference in pass efficiency with a rating of 164.5, the first Buckeye since Terrelle Pryor led the Big Ten in 2008. Miller also becomes the first Ohio State player to lead the Big Ten in total offense since Bobby Hoying in 1995 after averaging 295 yards of offense per game. For the second year in a row, Penn State's Allen Robinson led the conference in receptions and receiving yards per game, finished with 8.9 catches and 123 yards per game. He is the first Big Ten player to lead the conference in receptions in consecutive years since Purdue's Dorien Bryant in 2005 and 2006 and the first to lead the Big Ten in receiving yards in back to back years since Purdue's Brian Alford in 1996 and 1997.
Setting Attendance Records: The Big Ten established a new conference record for total attendance among all games and conference games only this season. After welcoming more than 430,000 fans to conference venues last weekend, the Big Ten has seen 6,061,514 fans come through the turnstiles this season, breaking the old conference record of 6,008,124 fans in the 2011 season. In addition, 3,414,448 patrons attended the 48 Big Ten contests this season, passing the old mark of 3,408,963 that was also set in 2011. The Big Ten averaged 70,483 fans per game among all games, while seeing that number increase to 71,134 fans per game during conference games only, marks that each rank among the top 10 in conference history.