Dec. 13, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
MASTERCARD ALAMO BOWL
No. 20/21 MICHIGAN vs. Nebraska (7-4)
8 p.m. EST - ESPN
Friday, December 30, 2005
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL
MINNESOTA vs. Virginia (6-5)
Noon EST - ESPN
VITALIS SUN BOWL
NORTHWESTERN vs. No. 17/17 UCLA (9-2)
2 p.m. EST - CBS
Monday, January 2, 2006
No. 25/25 IOWA vs. No. 16/18 Florida (8-3)
11 a.m. EST - ESPN
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
No. 21/20 WISCONSIN vs. No. 7/7 Auburn (9-2)
1 p.m. EST - ABC
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
No. 4/4 OHIO STATE vs. No. 5/6 Notre Dame (9-2)
5 p.m. EST - ABC
Tuesday, January 3, 2006
FEDEX ORANGE BOWL
No. 3/3 PENN STATE vs. No. 22/22 Florida State (8-4)
8 p.m. EST - ABC
BIG TEN BOWL BITS
Seven Teams Go Bowling: The Big Ten's seven bowl berths in 2005 matches the second-highest total in conference annals, trailing only the league record of eight bowl participants established following the 2003 campaign. The Big Ten also qualified seven schools for postseason play after the 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2002 seasons. The conference is sending six or more teams to bowl games for the seventh straight year and 14th time overall. Including this season, league programs have made 66 bowl appearances over the last decade (1996-2005) and 219 appearances all-time.
Big Ten BCS Duos: In Ohio State and Penn State, the Big Ten is sending a pair of teams to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games for the fifth time in the system's eight years. Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has now qualified 13 teams for BCS bowls, more than any other conference. The league also sent a pair of squads to BCS games after the following seasons - 1998 (Ohio State, Wisconsin), 1999 (Michigan, Wisconsin), 2002 (Iowa, Ohio State) and 2003 (Michigan, Ohio State).
Coaching Legends Meet: The two most successful coaches in college football history will meet when Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden square off in the Orange Bowl. With both coaches completing their 40th year on the sidelines, Bowden holds the all-time record with 359 career triumphs while Paterno ranks second with 353 victories. In postseason play, Paterno is the all-time leader with 20 victories followed by Bowden's 19 bowl wins. Penn State and Florida State have battled only twice in school history with both meetings occurring in the postseason. In his second year as head coach at PSU, Paterno collected his first bowl bid in the 1967 Gator Bowl and tied FSU, 17-17 -- nine years before Bowden would take over at Florida State in 1976. The two coaches' only meeting took place in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl, with the Seminoles earning a 24-17 win.
Winningest Programs Square Off: Four of the top five winningest programs in NCAA history will face off in Big Ten bowl games with Michigan battling Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl and Ohio State challenging Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wolverines currently rank first in college football annals with 849 victories, followed by the Fighting Irish (second with 811 wins), Cornhuskers (fourth with 793) and Buckeyes (T-fifth with 773). In addition, Penn State ranks seventh with 770 wins all-time.
Alvarez Farewell Tour: Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez will conclude a 16-year career in Madison with the school's first trip to the Capital One Bowl. Alvarez won his final regular season game to improve to 117-73-4 and his 117 career wins rank eighth on the all-time victory list for conference coaches. The Badgers' mentor is also tied for third among current coaches with seven bowl victories (along with Texas' Mack Brown and Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer), trailing only Penn State's Paterno (20 wins) and Florida State's Bowden (19). Alvarez has taken UW to 11 bowl games in his 16 years and boasts a 7-3 record, including three Rose Bowl victories.
Bowl Coaching Breakdown: Big Ten coaches that have reached bowl games this season sport a combined record of 43-27-1 (.613) in bowl games as collegiate head coaches and a mark of 27-16 (.628) since they joined the league. Penn State's Paterno holds the NCAA record with 20 bowl wins, including a 6-2 mark since joining the Big Ten. Alvarez ranks second among conference mentors with seven bowl triumphs, followed by Michigan's Lloyd Carr and Minnesota's Glen Mason with five wins a piece.
Non-Conference Review: The Big Ten produced a record of 28-6 (.824) in non-conference play this season, which is the best winning percentage since going 23-4 (.852) prior to bowl play in 1997. In addition, the league's 28 non-league victories are the most prior to bowl play in an 11-game season since Big Ten teams went 28-7 (.800) in 1999. All five of the schools that defeated league programs this year are taking part in a bowl -- Arizona State (Insight), California (Las Vegas), Iowa State (Houston), Notre Dame (Fiesta) and Texas (Rose).
Fresh Faces: Big Ten programs will face unfamiliar foes during the bowl season with four of the seven league teams battling an opponent for the first time in more than a decade. In the Music City Bowl, Minnesota will meet Virginia for the first time in school history. In the Sun Bowl, Northwestern and UCLA will square off for the sixth time ever and the first time since 1970. In the Alamo Bowl, Michigan and Nebraska will compete for the first time since 1986 and the sixth time overall. And in the Orange Bowl, Penn State will take on Florida State for the second time in school annals and the first time since 1990.
Bowl Rematches: Four of the seven Big Ten bowl matchups will feature a previous postseason opponent, most notably for Iowa and Florida, who will square off in Tampa, Fla., for the second time in three years after the Hawkeyes defeated the Gators in the 2004 Outback Bowl. Wisconsin's last game against Auburn was in the 2003 Music City Bowl, PSU's most recent matchup with Florida State occurred in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl while Michigan's last contest against Nebraska took place in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl.
Tough Competition: The Big Ten's seven-team bowl contingent has built a record of 56-22 (.718) but will once again face stiff competition in bowl games. The league's bowl foes also have a combined record of 56-22 (.718) and three of the squads already boast nine wins -- Auburn (9-2), Notre Dame (9-2) and UCLA (9-2). Only the Big 12 (combined opponents' record of 68-21, .764) and SEC (50-17, .764) face tougher bowl slates.
Double-Digit Wins: Penn State is aiming for its first 11-win season since 1996 and 13th year of 11 or more victories under Paterno. Ohio State and Wisconsin are both targeting their 10th win, which would mark the Buckeyes' third year of double-digit triumphs in the past four seasons and the first for the Badgers since 1999. Over the previous decade (1995-2004), 23 conference teams have posted 10 or more wins (most recently with Penn State this season) and nine squads have racked up 11 or more victories (most recently when OSU went 11-2 in 2003).
Bowl Veterans: The Big Ten boasts three of the 11 programs with 37 or more bowl appearances in Penn State (8th with 38), Michigan (T9th with 37) and Ohio State (T9th with 37). The Nittany Lions are tied for fourth all-time with 23 bowl triumphs, the Wolverines are 12th with 18 victories and the Buckeyes are tied at 13th with 17 wins.
Wolverines' Bowl Streak: Michigan's current streak of 31 consecutive bowls is the longest active streak in the nation.
BIG TEN BOWL PREVIEWS
MASTERCARD ALAMO BOWL
Michigan returns to the Alamo Bowl for the second time in school annals and will battle Nebraska for the first time since the 1986 Fiesta Bowl (and sixth time overall) on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. EST in San Antonio, Texas. The Wolverines were edged by Texas A&M in their lone Alamo Bowl appearance in 1995. Michigan will take part in a bowl game for the 31st straight season, which currently ranks as the longest active streak of bowl appearances in the country. The Wolverines are 18-18 overall in bowl games and their 37 bids are tied for the league lead with Ohio State. The Big Ten has produced a 7-4 record in the Alamo Bowl, including a victory by the Buckeyes last season.
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL
Minnesota will travel to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., for the third time in the last four seasons to challenge Virginia for the first time in school history on Friday, Dec. 30 at Noon EST. Head coach Glen Mason has led the Gophers to four straight bowl games for the first time in school history and six postseason games overall, compared to the program's five bowl trips prior to his arrival in 1997. Minnesota is undefeated in two Music City Bowls, picking up victories over Alabama last season and Arkansas in 2002, and boasts a 5-5 record in all postseason contests. The Big Ten has produced a 2-1 mark in the Music City Bowl.
VITALIS SUN BOWL
Northwestern will make its first appearance in the Sun Bowl facing UCLA for the first time since 1970 (and sixth time overall) on Friday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. EST in El Paso, Texas. The Wildcats clinched their sixth bowl trip in school history and head coach Randy Walker has guided the school to three postseason games, including their first-ever berths in the Alamo Bowl (2000) and Motor City Bowl (2003). Big Ten programs have built a 5-6 mark in the Sun Bowl, including a narrow loss by Purdue to Arizona State last season.
Iowa and Florida will square off in the Outback Bowl for the second time in the last three years on Monday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. EST in Tampa, Fla. The Hawkeyes clinched their fifth straight bowl excursion under head coach Kirk Ferentz for the first time since appearing in eight straight postseason events from 1981-88. Iowa has played in 20 bowl games all-time, building a record of 11-8-1, including a victory over the Gators in the Hawkeyes' lone Outback Bowl appearance following the 2003 season. The Big Ten has produced a record of 7-9 in the Outback Bowl, including victories in two of the last three games by Iowa and Michigan (2002 season).
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Wisconsin will be making its first trip to the Capital One Bowl and will take on Auburn for the third time overall on Monday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. EST in Orlando, Fla. The two programs most recent meeting also occurred in the postseason, with the Tigers defeating the Badgers in the 2003 Music City Bowl. In his final game as the Badgers' head coach, Barry Alvarez will look to improve upon a 7-3 postseason record in his 11th bowl trip in 16 years on campus. Wisconsin has played in 16 bowl games overall with an 8-8 record and will be making its fourth straight postseason appearance. Big Ten squads maintain a 7-8 mark in the Capital One Bowl, including a last-second victory by Iowa over LSU last season.
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Ohio State is back in the Fiesta Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons and will square off against Notre Dame on Monday, Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. EST in Tempe, Ariz. The Buckeyes and Fighting Irish have split four games all-time, most recently when OSU knocked off Notre Dame in 1996. The Big Ten co-champions are making their sixth consecutive bowl excursion, including five straight under head coach Jim Tressel. The OSU mentor has won three straight bowl games with a pair of Fiesta Bowl triumphs, including clinching the national title and an undefeated season with an overtime victory over Miami (Fla.) following the 2002 season. The Buckeyes will be playing in their 37th bowl, which is tied with Michigan for the league lead, and hold a 17-19 record in postseason play and a 3-1 mark in the Fiesta Bowl. The Big Ten boasts a 5-1 ledger in the Fiesta Bowl, including a current five-game win streak.
FEDEX ORANGE BOWL
In a game featuring the two winningest coaches in college football history, Penn State will make its first appearance in a BCS bowl and returns to the Orange Bowl for the fifth time in school history to face ACC champion Florida State on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. EST in Miami, Fla. In his 40th year as the Nittany Lions' head coach, Joe Paterno boasts 353 career victories, a number that ranks second only to the Seminoles' Bobby Bowden (359) in college football annals. Penn State has battled Florida State only twice previously and both matchups occurred in bowl games -- the 1967 Gator Bowl (17-17 tie) and the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl (24-17 win by Florida State). The Nittany Lions earned a share of the 2005 Big Ten title and claimed the league's BCS automatic bid based on a victory over Ohio State. Paterno, the 2005 Big Ten Coach of the Year, will make his 32nd bowl appearance at Penn State and boasts 20 victories, both of which stand as NCAA records. Overall, the school has built a 23-12-2 record in postseason play, including a 6-2 mark since joining the Big Ten in 1993. PSU has been victorious in three of four trips to the Orange Bowl with wins following the 1968, 1969 and 1973 campaigns. The school's last trip to the Orange Bowl occurred after the 1985 season, when an undefeated and top-ranked Penn State squad was defeated by No. 2 Oklahoma. Big Ten schools have played in four Orange Bowls, most recently when Iowa challenged USC after the 2002 campaign, and have produced a 2-2 record, including triumphs by Ohio State (1976) and Michigan (1999).
NOTING THE BIG TEN
Big Ten Standouts Claim National Honors: Big Ten student-athletes have collected five national awards this season, the highest total since league standouts took home seven national accolades following the 2002 campaign. A pair of Big Ten standouts have each claimed two national trophies in Minnesota center Greg Eslinger (Outland and Rimington Trophies) and Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny (Bednarik and Butkus Awards) in addition to one national accolade for Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk (Lombardi Award). The last Big Ten student-athlete to pick up multiple national awards was Nittany Lions' running back Larry Johnson, who earned the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards in 2002.
Eslinger became the first player to win both the Outland Trophy, which honors the nation's outstanding interior lineman, and the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the country's top center, in the same season. The Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year is the 11th conference player to collect the Outland Trophy and the first since Iowa's Robert Gallery was honored in 2003. Eslinger is the second straight league center to be awarded the Rimington Trophy and the third Big Ten honoree in the six-year history of the award, joining 2004 co-winner David Baas of Michigan and 2001 winner LeCharles Bentley of Ohio State.
Posluszny is the second player in Big Ten annals to claim both the Bednarik Award, honoring the country's outstanding defensive player, and Butkus Award, awarded to the top linebacker, in the same season. The junior linebacker joins fellow Nittany Lion LaVar Arrington, who was the league's most recent winner of both awards in 1999. The Big Ten has now collected the Bednarik Award on five occasions in the award's 11-year history. Conference student-athletes have earned the Butkus Award on seven occasions.
Hawk became the fifth Buckeye to collect the Rotary Lombardi Award, honoring the nation's top college lineman or linebacker, and the first since offensive tackle Orlando Pace became the first player to win back-to-back awards in 1995 and 1996. The Big Ten has now claimed the Lombardi Award on seven occasions with six of those trophies headed to Ohio State.
Everybody's All-American: In addition to the individual accolades, 10 conference players have been named to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America teams. Eslinger, Hawk and Penn State's Tamba Hali were named first-team All-Americans by the all three groups while Posluszny was honored by the FWAA and Walter Camp Foundation and Northwestern offensive lineman Zach Strief was chosen by the FWAA. Second-team selections included Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway, Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney, Ohio State offensive lineman Nick Mangold, PSU defensive back Alan Zemaitis and Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas.
Smart Players: The Big Ten topped all conferences with eight members of the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Football Team, an increase of two over the league's six honorees from last season. The Big Ten's eight Academic All-Americans this year include three first-team selections in Indiana defensive back Will Meyers, Iowa offensive lineman Mike Elgin and Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny. The league's five second-team choices are Michigan wide receiver Jason Avant, the Michigan State duo of offensive lineman Chris Morris and quarterback Drew Stanton and the Minnesota pair of offensive lineman Greg Eslinger and defensive lineman Mark Losli. Eslinger was one of only six student-athletes to repeat as Academic All-Americans after being honored as a second-team selection in 2004. To be eligible for Academic All-America honors, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.20 on a scale of 4.00 and have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his current institution.
Big Ten's Best BCS Finish: For the first time in Big Ten history, the league placed two teams among the top four in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings released on Dec. 4. Penn State ended the regular season ranked third in the final BCS standings, surpassing the program's previous top final ranking of 11th in 1999, followed by Ohio State at fourth overall, the school's third top-five finish in the last four seasons (5th in 2003, 2nd in 2002). The Big Ten had previously placed two programs among the top five of the final BCS poll in 2003 (No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State) and 2002 (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Iowa). Overall, the Big Ten tied the ACC and SEC with five teams among the top 25 in the final BCS poll, including No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 20 Michigan and No. 25 Northwestern.
Road Warriors: Big Ten teams were especially successful on the road this season with a record of 26-27 (.491) in all away games, the league's best road winning percentage and most victories away from home since at least the 2000 season. The Big Ten's previous best road performance in the last six years occurred in 2002 when the programs built a 25-30 (.455) mark in visiting stadiums. In addition, conference teams won 20 of 44 road games in league action, matching the 2002 season for the most successful road campaign since 2000.
Ohio State and Penn State Share Big Ten Title: In the final weekend of conference action, Ohio State and Penn State secured a share of the 2005 Big Ten Championship by taking care of business on the road. The Buckeyes were the first team to hit the field as they met Michigan in Ann Arbor for the 102nd meeting in the all-time series. The Wolverines built a 21-12 advantage with less than eight minutes remaining before OSU rallied for the win, with Antonio Pittman scoring on a three-yard run with only 24 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 25-21 victory and a share of the crown. The Nittany Lions then took the field in East Lansing and built a 17-0 halftime lead over the Spartans before holding on for the 31-22 triumph to split the conference title.
Nittany Lions Earn BCS Automatic Bid: While both OSU and PSU shared the Big Ten title, the Nittany Lions collected the league's automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth based on a 17-10 victory over the Buckeyes on Oct. 8. Penn State will take part in its first BCS bowl game since the system's inception in 1998, becoming the sixth Big Ten school in eight years to earn BCS automatic qualification joining Illinois (2001), Michigan (2003, 2004), Ohio State (2002), Purdue (2000), and Wisconsin (1998, 1999). Overall, the Big Ten boasts a conference-best 13 BCS bowl berths in its first eight years of existence, sending a second team to a BCS bowl in 1998 (Ohio State), 1999 (Michigan), 2002 (Iowa), 2003 (Ohio State) and 2005 (Ohio State).
Buckeyes Win 30th Big Ten Championship: Ohio State picked up a share of the 30th Big Ten title in school history, the second-highest total among all league programs behind only Michigan (42). The Buckeyes have now won two conference championships in head coach Jim Tressel's five years at the helm and four crowns in the last decade, also splitting the title in 1996, 1998 and 2002. The Wolverines lead the way with five championships in the last 10 years (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004), followed by OSU's four crowns and a pair of first-place finishes for Iowa (2002, 2004), Northwestern (1996, 2000) and Wisconsin (1998, 1999).
Penn State's Second Title: The Nittany Lions and head coach Joe Paterno picked up their second Big Ten Championship since joining the conference in 1993. PSU placed third in the standings in their first season before claiming the Big Ten title with a perfect 8-0 mark in 1994 -- part of an undefeated 12-0 campaign including a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon. Since joining the league, the Nittany Lions have placed third or better on six occasions -- 1993 (3rd), 1994 (1st), 1995 (T3rd), 1996 (T3rd), 1997 (T2nd) and 2005 (T1st).
Worst to First: Penn State became the third Big Ten program in the last six years to win a conference crown just one season after placing ninth or worse in the league standings. The Nittany Lions produced a 2-6 record during the 2004 campaign to tie for ninth place, only to improve to a 7-1 mark and a conference title in 2005. Illinois produced a similar reversal of fortunes four years ago, winning the 2001 championship with a 7-1 record after tying for ninth at 2-6 in 2000. While the Illini were placing ninth in 2000, Northwestern earned a share of the Big Ten crown with a 6-2 mark just one year after ending the 1999 season in 10th place with a 1-7 record.
Spreading the Love: Parity has reigned over the Big Ten landscape for the last decade (1996-2005) with eight different teams winning the conference title either outright or as a co-champion: Illinois ('01), Iowa (`02, '04), Michigan (`97, `98, `00, '03, '04), Northwestern (`96, `00), Ohio State (`96, `98, `02, '05), Penn State ('05), Purdue (`00) and Wisconsin (`98, `99). The title has been shared by at least two teams six times in this span, with a pair of three-team ties in 1998 and 2000 and two teams atop the standings in 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Big Ten Shatters Three Attendance Records: With three sellouts in the final weekend of Big Ten play, the conference established three attendance records while also surpassing the five million mark in total attendance for just the third time in league history. In 69 contests, the Big Ten averaged 72,566 patrons per outing which shattered the previous league best of 70,505 fans per game set in 2002. In addition, the conference's total attendance of 5,007,067 for all games ranks third in Big Ten annals behind only the 2002 (5,499,439 in 78 games) and 2003 (5,282,102 in 75 games) seasons. Big Ten programs also set records for total and average attendance in conference games only with 3,175,427 patrons in 44 contests for an average of 72,169 fans per outing. The previous league highs were 3,138,387 in total attendance and 71,326 per game, both established in 2001. Three of the five conference games were sold out last weekend, boosting the Big Ten's total number of packed houses to 38, which equals the second-highest single-season total in league history behind only the 39 sellouts posted last season. Ten of the Big Ten's 11 teams boast at least one sellout this season and the league sold out all five games the weekend of Oct. 15, which marked the first time the league featured packed stadiums for every game in a single week since at least the 1998 season. In addition, the conference set a single-day attendance record during the opening week of non-conference play with an average of 76,475 fans for eight home games, besting the previous record average of 70,270 patrons for eight games on Sept. 14, 1985.
Nation's Best Fans: Big Ten teams fill three of the top four spots in the final NCAA attendance rankings and seven conference programs rate among the top 30 in the country, which ranks second to the SEC (nine top 30 teams) among all leagues. Michigan led the nation with an average of 110,915 patrons per game while Ohio State ranked third (105,017) and Penn State rated fourth (104,859). Other Big Ten schools to appear among the top 30 in average attendance were Wisconsin (13th with 82,551), Michigan State (20th with 75,183), Iowa (21st with 70,585) and Purdue (26th with 62,996).
Welcome to the 10,000-Yard Club: Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez became just the third signal caller in Big Ten history to hit the 10,000-yard plateau in career passing yardage. In the regular-season finale at Illinois, the Wildcats signal caller set a single-game school record by completing 80.6 percent of his pass attempts (25-of-31) for 240 yards and two touchdowns to boost his career passing yardage total to 10,164 stripes. He passed Purdue's Mark Herrman (9,946 yards) for third-place on the Big Ten career list behind only Purdue's Drew Brees (11,792) and Iowa's Chuck Long (10,461). Basanez also appears among the top four in passing attempts (2nd with 1,514) and completions (2nd with 875) and total offensive plays (3rd with 1,897) and yardage (3rd with 11,128). He is just the third player to appear among the top five in career passes, completions, passing yards, total offensive plays and total offensive yards along with Purdue's Brees and Kyle Orton.
Badgers' Williams Equals Return Mark: Wisconsin wideout Brandon Williams returned his 106th kickoff in the regular-season finale at Hawaii to equal Michigan State's Derrick Mason for first place on the Big Ten career charts. Williams also has 2,349 yards on kickoff returns in his time in Madison, a total that ranks second in conference annals behind Mason (2,575 yards).
Big Ten Individual Leaders . . . : With the Big Ten season now complete, the conference produced new statistical leaders in every major category during the 2005 campaign. Iowa's Albert Young rallied to become the first Hawkeye to lead the conference in rushing since Dennis Mosley in 1979. The sophomore running back, who ranked fifth among all rushers after five Big Ten games, climbed to second place on the charts entering the final weekend of play trailing only Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, whom the Hawkeyes were facing in the regular-season finale. In a matchup of the league's top two ground gainers, Young rushed for 103 yards while Maroney was limited to 10 yards before leaving the game in the first quarter after reaggravating an ankle injury that forced him to miss the previous week's game. Young ends the season ranked first in league games only with 125.2 rushing yards per game, while Maroney tops the Big Ten in all games with 135.5 yards on the ground per outing. Ohio State's Troy Smith led the Big Ten in league games only with a 169.6 pass efficiency rating, making him the first Buckeye quarterback to lead the conference since Joe Germaine in 1998. Northwestern's Brett Basanez produced 339.4 yards of total offense per game to rank first in the league for the second time in his career after leading the way as a freshman in 2002 (250.3 ypg). He becomes just the second player in the last 20 years to average more than 300 yards of total offense per contest along with Purdue's Drew Brees, who accomplished the feat three times from 1998-2000. On the receiving end, Dorien Bryant become the fifth different Purdue wideout in the last seven years to top the Big Ten in receptions per game with 6.62 catches per outing in conference games only. The Boilermakers offense has produced the leading pass-catcher in six of the last seven seasons, a group that includes Taylor Stubblefield (2002, 2004), John Standeford (2003), Vinny Sutherland (2000) and Chris Daniels (1999). Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun led the charge in scoring with 10.5 points per game, making him the first UW player to lead the league in points since Ron Dayne in 1999. And in punting, fellow-Badger Ken DeBauche led the Big Ten with 44.4 yards per boot in conference contests only to end the two-year reign of Michigan State's Brandon Fields, who concluded the season ranked fourth with 41.0 yards per punt.
. . . and Team Leaders: In the team statistics, Ohio State dominated the defensive side of the ball while three different squads topped the charts in the major offensive categories. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in league games only in scoring defense (14.8 ppg), total defense (271.1 ypg), rushing defense (80.8 ypg) and passing defense (190.4 ypg). The last conference school to rank first in all four categories was Michigan in 2001. The Buckeyes have now topped the conference in points, total yards and rushing yards allowed in three of the last six seasons, including the 2000 and 2003 campaigns. OSU led in scoring defense four times in that six-year span (2005, 2003, 2002, 2000), ranked first in total defense on four occasions (2005, 2003, 2002, 2000) and topped the league in rushing defense three times (2005, 2003, 2000). However, the annual leader in passing defense in the Big Ten records book is determined by pass efficiency rating and Penn State (104.1) edged Ohio State (111.7) for the top spot in that category. The Nittany Lions also led the league in defensive pass efficiency last season with a rating of 92.8. On the offensive side of the ball, Northwestern was the only Big Ten unit to rank among the top five in points, total yards, rushing yards and passing yards per game. The Wildcats topped the conference in both total offense (494.0 ypg) and passing offense (306.6 ypg) while rating fourth in scoring offense (31.6 ppg) and fifth in rushing offense (187.4 ypg). Northwestern ranked first in total and passing offense for just the second time in school annals and the first time since the 1950 squad accomplished the feat. NU most recently led the way in total yardage in 2000 while topping the charts through the air in 1973. Minnesota led the Big Ten with 259.2 rushing yards per outing in 2005 league games, ranking first for the second time in three years (2003). Penn State put up more points than any other league outfit this season with 35.2 points per contest in Big Ten games to lead the way in scoring for the first time since setting the conference record in 1994 (48.1 ppg).
Gophers' Rushing Feat: In addition to leading the Big Ten in rushing, Minnesota became the first program in NCAA history to produce a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons. First-team All-Big Ten choice Laurence Maroney is the constant in that three-year span, tallying 1,355 yards in 2005 to become only the third player in Big Ten history to break the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first three seasons, joining Wisconsin's Ron Dayne and Michigan State's Sedrick Irvin. Maroney ranks second in school history with 3,824 yards on the ground for his career, a total that is just 388 yards shy of cracking the league's top-10 rushing leaders. Sophomore Gary Russell was the second Gopher to hit 1,000 rushing yards this season with a career-best 1,045 stripes. Maroney was joined by Marion Barber III with over 1,000 rushing yards in 2004 and 2003.
Badgers' Two-Way Threat: Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun also entered the conference records book this season. The junior leads the league with 1,423 rushing yards while ranking third on the team with 563 yards receiving to become just the second player in Big Ten history to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground and 500 yards through the air. The only other league player to accomplish that feat was Iowa's Ronnie Harmon with 1,166 rushing yards and 699 receiving yards in 1985.
Putting Points on the Board: Big Ten offenses produced points at a record pace during the 2005 season with eight teams averaging 30 or more points per outing and all 11 teams tallying an average of 30.3 points per game, the highest totals for the league since at least 1990. The Big Ten's previous high over the last 15 seasons occurred when six teams averaged 30 points or better in 1999, while the highest average for the entire league was the 28.5 points per contest produced in 2002. Eight conference attacks are rated among the top 36 scoring offenses in the country including Minnesota (10th at 36.2 ppg), Penn State (12th at 35.2), Wisconsin (13th at 35.2), Michigan State (T17th at 33.8), Ohio State (27th at 32.5), Northwestern (32nd at 31.8), Iowa (34th at 30.5) and Purdue (T36th at 30.0).
The 500-Yard Club?: The Big Ten features some of the most productive offensive attacks in league history with three programs racking up more than 490 yards of total offense per game. Minnesota leads the conference (fifth nationally) with 497.8 yards per contest, which ranks second in Big Ten annals behind only the Penn State attack that produced 512.7 yards per game in 1994. Michigan State (497.3 ypg; sixth nationally, fourth in league history) and Northwestern (492.7 ypg; eighth nationally, seventh in league history) have also produced more than 490 yards of total offense per contest this season.
A New Golden Age of Coaching?: With Alvarez, Paterno and Carr in the century club, the Big Ten features three active coaches with 100 or more wins at their respective institutions for the first time in more than 85 years. The last time that three league coaches all ended a season with 100 or more wins at their schools was in 1921 when Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (158 wins at the time), Michigan's Fielding Yost (137) and Minnesota's Henry Williams (136) accomplished the feat. The conference coaching roster for 1921 also featured Illinois' Robert Zuppke, who had only 70 wins at the end of that season but would go on to rack up 131 triumphs in his career.
Big Ten on TV: The 2005 campaign featured the most televised contests in conference history for an 11-game season, with 68 of 70 home football games appearing on television. That total included all 44 intraconference and 24 interconference games televised by either ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Plus, ESPNU, ESPN Classic or ESPN360. Six interconference road games were also televised bringing to 74 the number of Big Ten football games that appeared on television.