Dec. 16, 2009
BIG TEN. BIG BOWLS.
Big Ten Sends Seven Teams to Bowl Games: The Big Ten will send seven schools to take part in bowl games in December and January. The 2009-10 bowl season will mark the fifth straight year that seven or more Big Ten programs have earned postseason berths, the longest streak in conference history. Big Ten Champion Ohio State and Iowa both earned trips to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contests, with the Buckeyes returning to the Rose Bowl Game for the first time since 1997 and the Hawkeyes earning their second trip to the FedEx Orange Bowl. In addition, Penn State was selected for the Capital One Bowl, Northwestern was chosen for the Outback Bowl, Wisconsin will take part in the Champs Sports Bowl, Michigan State will travel to the Valero Alamo Bowl and Minnesota will return to the Insight Bowl.
The Lucky Seven: The Big Ten's seven bowl berths in 2009 rank as the second-highest single-season total in conference annals, behind only the eight bowl bids earned following the 2003 and 2007 campaigns. The conference also qualified seven schools for postseason play after the 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008 seasons. The Big Ten is sending six or more teams to bowl games for the 11th straight year and 18th time overall. Including the upcoming bowl season, conference programs will have made 69 bowl appearances over the last decade (2000-09) and 248 appearances all-time.
Big Ten BCS Duos: Two Big Ten schools were selected for BCS games for the ninth time in the 12-year history of the system and the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has qualified 21 teams for BCS bowls, more than any other conference. The SEC ranks second with 19 BCS bids followed by the Big 12 (17), Pac-10 (14), ACC (12) and Big East (12). The Big Ten also sent a pair of squads to BCS games in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Overall, seven conference programs have taken part in a BCS contest, including Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.
Five Straight Years of BCS Doubleheaders: The Big Ten will send a pair of teams to BCS games for the fifth straight season, the longest streak since the system's creation. Ohio State has earned BCS berths in each of the last five years and has been joined by Penn State (2005 and 2008), Michigan (2006), Illinois (2007) and Iowa (2009). The SEC ranks second to the Big Ten after earning two BCS spots for the fourth straight year this season.
BCS Regulars: Ohio State collected the Big Ten's automatic 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. Ohio State is the nation's only program to qualify for eight BCS games in the 12-year history of the system, as Oklahoma and Southern California rank second with seven BCS trips each. In addition, only one other team has appeared in five or more consecutive BCS games, as the Trojans appeared in a BCS contest seven straight seasons from 2002 to 2008. 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 has earned a conference-best 21 BCS berths, 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), 2008 (Ohio State) and 2009 (Iowa).
BCS Depth: Seven different Big Ten schools have qualified to play in a BCS game, including both Ohio State and Iowa this season. The conference's previous BCS-bowl participants include Illinois, Michigan, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The Big Ten's seven-team BCS contingent is tied for the lead among all conferences along with the Big 12, Big East and Pac-10, followed by the SEC (six different teams) and ACC (five teams).
BCS Success: Only 11 schools have produced multiple BCS wins and the Big Ten boasts two of those programs in Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have won four BCS games, including three triumphs in the Fiesta Bowl (2002, 2003, 2005) and a Sugar Bowl win (1998). Florida and Louisiana State have also won four BCS contests while Southern California tops all schools with six triumphs. The Badgers are 2-0 in BCS matchups with back-to-back Rose Bowl victories following the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The other teams to win at least two BCS games include Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
BCS Double-Dippers: Iowa will be appearing in its second BCS contest after playing in the 2003 Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes will be one of 24 schools to appear in multiple BCS games, a group that includes the Big Ten's Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Big Ten leads all conferences with six teams earning multiple bids to BCS games, followed by the SEC with five programs collecting more than one BCS appearance.
Tough Competition: The Big Ten's seven-team bowl contingent has built a record of 59-25 (.702) but will once again face stiff competition in bowl games. Big Ten bowl foes have a combined record of 60-25 (.706) and four of the squads already boast nine or more wins -- Georgia Tech (11-2), Oregon (10-2), Miami (Fla.) (9-3) and Louisiana State (9-3). Among conferences with three or more bowl teams, the Big Ten is one of four to face bowl opponents that have combined to win at least 70.6 percent of their games along with the Mountain West (47-15, .758), SEC (91-32, .740) and Pac-10 (62-23, .729). The Big Ten and Pac-10 are tied for second with two bowl opponents featuring double-digits in victories, behind only the SEC (three opponents with 10 or more wins). The SEC tops all conferences with six opponents with nine or more wins, followed by the Pac-10 (5), ACC (4), Big Ten (4), Conference USA (2) and Mountain West (2). The Big 12 and Big East face only one team with nine or more triumphs in bowl play.
Playing the Best: For the fifth time in the last six years, the Big Ten is one of the few conferences in which every bowl matchup features opponents from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10 or SEC. Among those conferences, only the ACC features a similar lineup during the upcoming bowl season, while the Big 12 was the only other conference to face that kind of test during the 2008-09 bowl campaign. Including the upcoming bowl season, the Big Ten will have faced only three bowl opponents from outside the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10 or SEC beginning with the 2000-01 bowl slate. Over that same 10-year span, every other conference among that group will have faced at least seven teams outside of those six conferences. Over that 10-year span, the Pac-10 leads the way with 14 games outside of this group, followed by the Big East (13), ACC (11), Big 12 (11) and SEC (7). Beginning with the 2005-06 bowl season, the Big Ten will have faced only one team outside of that group over the five-year span, compared to the Pac-10 (9), Big East (8), ACC (7), SEC (6) and Big 12 (4).
More SEC Matchups: Over the last five and 10 years, the Big Ten has played more bowl games against the SEC than any other conference. The two conferences have met in the postseason on 13 occasions over the last five years, with the Big Ten holding a 7-6 advantage in those matchups. Over the last decade, the Big Ten and SEC have met in 27 bowl contests, with the SEC holding a 14-13 edge. The Big Ten's most common bowl opponent since 1999 is the SEC (27 games), followed by the Big 12 (16) and Pac-10 (14).
On the Road Again: For the fifth straight season, at least two of the Big Ten bowl matchups are virtual road games, with conference teams facing schools from the state in which the bowl is played. The Big Ten's "road" bowl contests include Wisconsin against Miami (Fla.) in the Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, Fla.) and Michigan State versus Texas Tech in the Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, Texas). Including the upcoming bowl matchups, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 13 "road" bowl games over the last five seasons. Over that same time span, the ACC and Big East rank second with six "road" bowl games, followed by the Big 12 (5), SEC (3) and Pac-10 (1).
Bowl Coaching Breakdown: The Big Ten coaching contingent in this season's bowls features a blend of experience and youth. Penn State's Joe Paterno will be making his 36th bowl appearance and has won 23 bowl contests, both of which are NCAA records. Paterno has built a 9-3 postseason record since joining the conference. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Ohio State's Jim Tressel and are tied for second among active Big Ten coaches in bowl victories. Ferentz has been victorious in four of seven bowl contests since moving to Iowa City in 1999 while Tressel has won four of eight bowl outings since joining the Buckeyes in 2001. On the flip side, Minnesota's Tim Brewster and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald will be on the sidelines for their second bowl games as a coach. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Wisconsin's Bret Bielema will be coaching in their fourth career bowl games.
Bowl Rematches: Ohio State and Penn State will face opponents they previously challenged in postseason action. The Buckeyes will battle Oregon for the second time in the postseason but the first time since the two programs met in the 1958 Rose Bowl, a 10-7 victory for OSU. The Nittany Lions and Louisiana State have met in one postseason game, with PSU defeating the Tigers, 16-9, in the 1974 Orange Bowl.
Fresh Faces: Big Ten programs will face unfamiliar foes during the bowl season with six of the seven conference teams battling an opponent for the first time in at least a decade. Three conference schools will square off against an opponent for the first time in school history when Iowa takes on Georgia Tech, Michigan State challenges Texas Tech and Northwestern battles Auburn. Penn State will face Louisiana State for just the second time in school history and the first time since the 1974 Orange Bowl. Ohio State and Oregon will take the field for the eighth time overall, but the Rose Bowl will mark their first meeting since 1987. Wisconsin and Miami (Fla.) will meet for the first time since 1989 and the third time overall. The lone familiar matchup is Minnesota-Iowa State, as the two programs squared off in 1997. However, the Insight Bowl matchup will mark just the third meeting since 1924, even though the two schools have met on 25 occasions overall.
Bowl Veterans: Including the upcoming bowl season, the Big Ten boasts three of the 11 programs with 39 or more bowl appearances in Penn State (8th - 42), Ohio State (T9th - 41) and Michigan (11th - 39). The Nittany Lions rank third all-time with 26 bowl triumphs followed by the Wolverines (T13th - 19) and Buckeyes (T15th - 18).
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Everybody's All-American: Eleven Big Ten student-athletes have been named to the All-America first, second or third teams as chosen by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Associated Press (AP), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Walter Camp Football Foundation and Sporting News. The Big Ten All-Americans include one standout named to all five teams - Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones. The media's choice as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Jones was named a first-team All-American by the AFCA, AP and FWAA while earning second-team honors from Walter Camp and third-team accolades from Sporting News. Other Big Ten players to earn first-team All-America laurels are the Iowa duo of linebacker Pat Angerer (FWAA) and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (Sporting News), Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman (Sporting News) and Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick (AFCA). Second- or third-team selections include Illinois offensive lineman Jon Asamoah, Iowa safety Tyler Sash, the Michigan pair of defensive end Brandon Graham and punter Zoltan Mesko and the Penn State duo of linebacker Navorro Bowman and offensive lineman Dennis Landolt.
Smart Players: The Big Ten topped all conferences for the fifth straight season with eight student-athletes named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first or second teams in football. The Big Ten also led the way with six first-team selections, matching the third-highest total in conference history behind only the seven first-team honorees in 2008 and the eight first-team choices in 2006. The Big Ten paces all conferences with 43 Academic All-Americans in the sport of football over the last five years, including at least eight honorees every season. The Big Ten's total of eight Academic All-Americans led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conferences, followed by the FCS' Missouri Valley with five selections and the FBS' Big 12 with four honorees. The first-team selections included six honorees from the Big Ten and nine choices from all other FBS conferences, including two each from the Big 12 and SEC.
The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten include Michigan's Zoltan Mesko, Michigan State's Blair White, Northwestern's Zeke Markshausen and the Penn State trio of Josh Hull, Andrew Pitz and Stefen Wisniewski. Second-team honors went to Northwestern's Stefan Demos and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. Hull and Pitz each earned their second consecutive first-team accolades after being honored last season. To be eligible for the award, a player must be in at least his second year of athletic eligibility, be a first-team or key performer and carry a cumulative 3.30 grade point average (GPA).
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 a bowl game still remaining, Wisconsin still maintains hopes of reaching the 10-win plateau. The Badgers are 9-3 and close out the season against Miami (Fla.) in the Champs Sports Bowl. 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 Sets Overall Attendance Record: The Big Ten shattered the conference record for overall attendance with 5,526,237 fans attending 77 home games during the 2009 campaign. The previous record was set in 2002 when 5,499,439 patrons went through the turnstiles for 78 contests. The Big Ten surpassed the five-million mark in overall attendance for the fifth straight season and just the seventh time in conference history. Big Ten programs averaged 71,769 fans in 77 home games, which 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 addition, the Big Ten recorded 40 sellouts this season, the second-highest total in conference annals behind only the 42 packed houses in each of the previous two seasons (2007 and 2008). 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 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 in first place. 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.
Tressel Joins Rare Coaching Fraternities: OSU 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.
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.