Dec. 17, 2012
BIG TEN BOWL NEWS
That Time of Year Again: The Big Ten will send seven conference teams to bowl games, marking the 14th straight year that six or more Big Ten programs have earned postseason berths. Five Big Ten teams will be in action on New Year's Day, headlined by conference champion Wisconsin, which will take part in the Rose Bowl Game for the third straight season and take on Pac-12 Champion Stanford. Conference runner-up Nebraska heads to the Capital One Bowl where it will face SEC runner-up Georgia, while Michigan will play in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina of the SEC. Northwestern travels to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl for a contest with Mississippi State of the SEC, and Purdue takes on Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. On Dec. 28, Minnesota will open the Big Ten bowl slate against the Big 12's Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, while Michigan State will take on the Big 12's TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 29.
Postseason Regulars: By sending seven teams to postseason contests this year, the Big Ten will send six or more squads to postseason play for the 14th straight season. Dating back to the 1999 season, the conference has sent seven or more teams to bowl games on 11 occasions, including each of the last eight seasons. Overall, the Big Ten has sent six or more teams to postseason play 21 times.
Badger Three-Peat: When Wisconsin takes the field against Stanford in the 99th Rose Bowl Game, it will mark the third consecutive year the Badgers have played in the annual contest in Pasadena. It is just the third time a program has played in the Rose Bowl Game in three or more consecutive seasons. Ohio State appeared in the Rose Bowl Game from 1972-75, while Michigan represented the Big Ten in Pasadena from 1976-78.
Back on the Sidelines: Current Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez will return to the sidelines to lead the Badgers in their Rose Bowl Game against Stanford. Alvarez will serve as the Badgers' interim coach following a successful 16-year career as the head coach at Wisconsin from 1990-2005. He is the winningest coach in Badger history, compiling a 118-73-4 record in 16 seasons. Alvarez also boasts an unblemished record in Rose Bowl Games, posting victories in his three appearances in Pasadena, including a 17-9 victory over Stanford following the 1999 campaign. In his career, Alvarez boasts an 8-3 record in postseason games, the most victories by a Big Ten coach.
Making a Habit out of BCS Games: Wisconsin's berth in the Rose Bowl Game gives the Badgers their fifth appearance in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contest, joining two other conference teams with five or more berths in a BCS game. Ohio State is tied for the national lead with eight official BCS appearances, while Michigan has played in five BCS games in program history, tied for seventh-most in the nation. In total, just 11 programs in the nation have competed in five or more BCS games. A victory by the Badgers in the Rose Bowl Game would give them three BCS wins, a feat accomplished by only eight programs.
Bowl Matchups by the Numbers: The Big Ten's bowl contingent will be matched up with some of the nation's most successful programs from the 2012 season. The conference's bowl opponents have a combined record of 61-25 (.709) and three opponents have already reached double-digits in wins - South Carolina (10-2), Georgia (11-2) and Stanford (11-2). It marks the third straight season Wisconsin has faced a team that has won 10 or more games heading into their Rose Bowl Game matchup, facing 12-0 TCU in 2010, 11-2 Oregon in 2011 and 11-2 Stanford this season.
Into Opponents' Territory: For the eighth straight season, at least two of the Big Ten matchups will essentially be road games, with conference teams facing schools from the state in which the bowl will be contested. Minnesota heads to Houston, Texas, for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, where the Gophers will face Texas Tech. Competing in the Rose Bowl Game, Wisconsin takes on Stanford, which played in Rose Bowl Stadium in its regular-season finale against UCLA on Nov. 24. In total, the Big Ten leads the nation with 23 "road" bowl games over the last eight seasons.
Bowl Rematches: Of the Big Ten's seven bowl contests, four of the matchups will be rematches of previous postseason contests. When Minnesota faces Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, it will be the second meeting between the two programs in a bowl setting. The Red Raiders held off Minnesota, 44-41, in overtime of the 2006 Insight Bowl. Purdue holds a 1-0 series edge over Oklahoma State, with the programs' first meeting coming in the 1997 Alamo Bowl, a 33-20 Boilermaker victory. The two teams will meet in this year's Heart of Dallas Bowl. Nebraska and Georgia have met once previously, with the Huskers defeating the Bulldogs, 45-6, in the 1969 Sun Bowl. The two teams will meet for the second time in the Capital One Bowl. Wisconsin holds a 4-0-1 advantage all-time against Stanford, and the sixth meeting between the programs will be in the 2013 Rose Bowl Game. The Badgers and Cardinal met in the 2000 Rose Bowl Game with Wisconsin winning the second of its back-to-back Rose Bowl Game titles.
It's Academic: The Big Ten led all conferences with nine student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-America first or second teams in football. Of those nine student-athletes, six will compete for Big Ten squads appearing in postseason play in the coming weeks, including Michigan State's Max Bullough and Mike Sadler, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Sean Fisher and Northwestern's Brian Arnfelt and Patrick Ward. In addition, Indiana's Adam Replogle and Penn State's Pete Massaro and John Urschel were named Academic All-Americans.
Showing Their Smarts: The Big Ten recognized its fall Academic All-Big Ten honorees, with a record 259 football standouts earning the honor this season. Of those 259 honorees, 185 hail from conference institutions competing in bowl games this season, or 71.4 percent of this year's Academic All-Big Ten performers. Four of those performers have maintained 4.0 grade-point averages, including Mike Sadler of Michigan State, Sean Fisher of Nebraska and Brian Arnfelt and Quentin Williams of Northwestern. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.
Three Big Ten Teams Eye Double-Digit Wins: Two Big Ten squads will end the season with 10 or more victories, while a third can reach the plateau with a bowl game victory. Ohio State is one of two teams in the nation with an unblemished record, ending the season with a 12-0 mark, the sixth perfect season in program history. The Buckeyes' unblemished record marks the Big Ten's first perfect season since Ohio State went 14-0 in 2002. The last Big Ten team to post an unbeaten record in the regular season was also Ohio State, which went 12-0 in 2006. Nebraska enters postseason play with a 10-3 record, marking the third 10-win season in coach Bo Pelini's five-year tenure with the program. Should the Huskers knock off Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, Nebraska would reach the 11-wins mark for the first time since 2001. With nine victories entering the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Northwestern can reach double-digit victories for just the third time in program history. A win against Mississippi State on Jan. 1 would give the Wildcats their first 10-win season since they recorded 10 victories in 1995.
National Award Winners: Multiple Big Ten standouts were honored with national awards this season. Wisconsin's Montee Ball, the NCAA all-time leader in touchdowns, was named the winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, presented to the nation's outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. Michigan's Patrick Omameh and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead were selected to the AFCA Good Works Team, which honors a student-athlete's dedication to community service and off-field accomplishments, while Burkhead and Northwestern's Patrick Ward earned the National Football Foundation's National-Scholar Athlete Award, which awards postgraduate scholarships to those who have displayed athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Finally, the Penn State senior class was honored with the Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award in recognition of their commitment, leadership and outstanding effort during the 2012 season.
It's Been a Ball: Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is poised to complete his collegiate career as one of the NCAA's most prolific rushers. Ball will finish his Badger career as the nation's all-time leader in total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns, boasting 82 and 76, respectively, with one game yet to play. The 2012 Doak Walker Award winner, Ball shares the NCAA single-season record of 39 total touchdowns with former Oklahoma State standout Barry Sanders, and holds the single-season record with 236 total points. Both single-season records came during Ball's junior season in 2011 that saw him finish as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He will conclude his career among the Big Ten's top 10 in rushing yards, rushing and total touchdowns, points and all-purpose yards.
Making a Name for Themselves: At least 10 Big Ten performers earned All-America honors from various publications following the conclusion of the 2012 regular season. Wisconsin's Montee Ball was named a consensus All-American for the second straight season, while Michigan's Taylor Lewan was named a first-team All-American by at least four different publications. In addition, eight other conference standouts were named to All-America squads, including Nebraska's Spencer Long, Northwestern's Venric Mark, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins, Bradley Roby and John Simon, Penn State's Michael Mauti, Purdue's Kawann Short and Wisconsin's Rick Wagner.
Crowning Stat Champions: The Big Ten crowned various statistical champions at the conclusion of the conference season in Big Ten games only. For the second season in a row, Wisconsin's Montee Ball led the conference in rushing, averaging 146.0 yards per game. He becomes the first player to top the Big Ten in rushing in consecutive seasons since former Badger Ron Dayne did so in 1998 and 1999, and just the third time since at least 1970. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez averaged 280.9 yards of total offense per conference game this season to lead all Big Ten performers. Penn State's Allen Robinson was the conference leader in receptions (6.0) and yards per game (76.8). He is the second Big Ten player in four seasons, following Purdue's Keith Smith in 2009, to lead the conference in both categories. He is the first Nittany Lion to lead the Big Ten in yards, and just the second to lead the Big Ten in catches, following Bobby Engram in 1995. Ball and Ohio State' Carlos Hyde tied for the scoring title as each averaged 11.2 points per game. It marks the third straight year Ball has led the conference in scoring, a feat unmatched in conference history since at least 1939, and Hyde is the first Buckeye to lead the Big Ten in the category since Eddie George in 1995. Michigan State's Mike Sadler led the Big Ten with an average of 43.8 yards per punt, the first Spartan to lead the conference in the category since Aaron Bates in 2008.
Another Banner Year: The Big Ten concluded the regular season with the second-highest season attendance among all games and conference games only. In 83 games this season, the Big Ten welcomed 5,842,112 fans this year, behind only the 6,008,124 patrons that attended conference contests a season ago. Among conference games only, nearly 3.4 million fans passed through the turnstiles in 48 Big Ten contests this year. The averages of 70,387 patrons among all games and the conference games only average of 70,493 rank eighth all-time in Big Ten history in their respective categories.
Dungy Earns NCAA's Highest Honor: Former Minnesota student-athlete and Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy will be honored with the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award at the 2013 NCAA Convention. Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, whose concern for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906, the award is the NCAA's highest honor and is given annually to an individual "for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement." Dungy's name appears on the Big Ten's Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award, which recognizes Big Ten football players that have achieved success in the area of humanitarianism after their college careers have ended. Indiana's George Taliaferro was honored with the inaugural Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award in 2011, while Ohio State's Chris Spielman earned the award in 2012.