Dec. 19, 2008
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 for the fourth straight season, the longest streak of seven or more bowl berths in conference history. Big Ten Co-Champions Penn State and Ohio State both earned trips to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contests, with the Nittany Lions returning to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995 and the Buckeyes playing in the Fiesta Bowl for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. In addition, Michigan State was selected for the Capital One Bowl, Iowa was chosen for the Outback Bowl, Northwestern will take part in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Wisconsin will travel to the Champs Sports Bowl and Minnesota will compete in the Insight Bowl.
The Lucky Seven: The Big Ten's seven bowl berths in 2008 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 and 2006 seasons. The Big Ten is sending six or more teams to bowl games for the 10th straight year and 17th time overall. Including the upcoming bowl season, conference programs will have made 69 bowl appearances over the last decade (1999-2008) and 241 appearances all-time.
Big Ten BCS Duos: The Big Ten will send two schools to BCS games for the eighth time in the 11-year history of the system and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has qualified 19 teams for BCS bowls, more than any other conference. The SEC ranks second with 17 BCS bids followed by the Big 12 (16), Pac-10 (13), ACC (11) and Big East (11). The Big Ten also sent a pair of squads to BCS games in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Big Ten and Pac-10 have each won eight BCS games to rate second behind the SEC (11 victories) and ahead of Big 12 (6) and Big East (6).
Four Straight Years of BCS Doubleheaders: The Big Ten will send a pair of teams to BCS games for the fourth straight season, the longest streak since the system's creation. Ohio State and Penn State kicked off the current streak following the 2005 campaign and both return this season. The Buckeyes also made BCS appearances after the 2006 and 2007 seasons and were joined by Michigan two years ago and Illinois last season. The SEC ranks second to the Big Ten after earning two BCS spots for the third straight year this season.
Nittany Lions Earn Automatic Bid: Penn State collected the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth for the second time in the last four seasons based on the Nittany Lion's 13-6 victory at Ohio State on Oct. 25. PSU also earned the BCS automatic bid in 2005, ending the regular season tied atop the standings with OSU but winning the tie-breaker based on a victory over the Buckeyes. Penn State is one of six Big Ten schools in the 11 years of the BCS to gain automatic qualification joining Ohio State (2002, 2006, 2007), Illinois (2001), Michigan (2003, 2004), Purdue (2000), and Wisconsin (1998, 1999).
BCS Depth: Seven different Big Ten schools have qualified to play in a BCS game, including both Ohio State and Penn State this season. The conference's previous BCS-bowl participants include Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, 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 (four teams).
BCS Success: Only 10 schools have produced multiple wins in BCS games and the Big Ten boasts two of those programs in Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have won four of six games in BCS play, including three triumphs in the Fiesta Bowl (2002, 2003, 2005) and a Sugar Bowl win (1998). Louisiana State has also won four BCS contests while Southern California tops all schools with five BCS 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 Florida, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. Penn State will be appearing in its second BCS contest after playing in the 2006 Orange Bowl. The Nittany Lions will be one of 20 schools to appear in multiple BCS games, a group that includes the Big Ten's Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Tough Competition: The Big Ten's seven-team bowl contingent has built a record of 61-23 (.726) but will once again face stiff competition in bowl games. The Big Ten joins the Big 12 as the only conferences in which every bowl matchup features opponents from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10 or SEC. In addition, the Big Ten's bowl foes have a combined record of 62-23 (.729) and four of the squads already boast nine or more wins -- Georgia (9-3), Missouri (9-4), Southern California (11-1) and Texas (11-1). The Big Ten is one of four conferences to face bowl opponents that have combined to win at least 70 percent of their games along with the SEC (79-20, .798), Pac-10 (46-14, .767) and Big 12 (62-23, .729). The SEC tops all conferences with seven opponents with nine or more wins, followed by the Big Ten (4), Big 12 (4), Pac-10 (4), ACC (1) and Big East (1).
On the Road Again: For the fourth 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 Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, Fla.) and Penn State versus Southern California in the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.). Including the upcoming bowl matchups, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 11 "road" bowl games over the last four seasons. Over that same time span, the ACC and Big 12 rank second with five "road" bowl games, followed by the Big East (3), SEC (3) and Pac-10 (1).
Success on the Road: Big Ten programs have produced a record of 4-5 in "road" bowl games over the last three years, including triumphs by the Boilermakers, Nittany Lions and Wolverines one year ago. Last season, five of the Big Ten's eight bowl games were "road" contests, including Purdue-Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl, Penn State-Texas A&M in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Michigan-Florida in the Capital One Bowl, Illinois-USC in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State-Louisiana State in the BCS National Championship Game. Big Ten squads played two "road" games each the previous two bowl seasons, including Michigan-USC in the Rose Bowl and Iowa-Texas in the Alamo Bowl following the 2006 campaign and Iowa-Florida in the Outback Bowl and Penn State-Florida State in the Orange Bowl following the 2005 season.
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 35th bowl appearance and has won 23 bowl contests, both of which are NCAA records. Paterno has built a 9-2 postseason record since joining the conference. Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz rank second and third among active Big Ten coaches in bowl victories. Tressel has won four of seven bowl outings since joining the Buckeyes in 2001 while Ferentz has been victorious in three of six bowl contests since moving to Iowa City in 1999. On the flip side, Minnesota's Tim Brewster and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald will be on the sidelines for their first bowl games as a coach. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Wisconsin's Bret Bielema will be coaching in their third career bowl games. The seven Big Ten coaches that have reached bowl games this season sport a combined record of 32-18-1 (.637) in bowl games as collegiate head coaches and a mark of 17-10 (.630) since they joined the conference.
Bowl Rematches: Michigan State and Penn State will face opponents they previously challenged in postseason action. The Spartans will battle Georgia for just the second time in school annals after the two programs met in the 1989 Gator Bowl, a narrow 34-27 victory for the Bulldogs. The Nittany Lions will face Southern California for the third time in postseason action after the two programs split their previous meetings. PSU made its first bowl trip in school history following the 1922 campaign, only to fall to USC, 14-3, in the 1923 Rose Bowl. The two schools met again in the 1982 Fiesta Bowl with the Nittany Lions exacting revenge with a 26-10 triumph.
Fresh Faces: Big Ten programs will face unfamiliar foes during the bowl season with five of the seven conference teams battling an opponent for the first time in at least two decades. Two conference schools will square off against an opponent for the first time in school history when Iowa takes on South Carolina and Wisconsin challenges Florida State. Minnesota will face Kansas for the first time since 1973 and the seventh time overall. Northwestern will battle Missouri for the first time since 1987 and the ninth time in school annals. Michigan State and Georgia will take the field for just the second time in program history after the two schools played in the 1989 Gator Bowl. The bowl opponents for Ohio State and Penn State are a little more familiar. The Buckeyes will face Texas for the third time in school history, with the schools splitting a pair of regular-season games in 2005 and 2006. The Nittany Lions have challenged Southern California in eight previous games, but the two programs have not met since the 2000 regular season.
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 - 41), Ohio State (T9th - 40) and Michigan (11th - 39). The Nittany Lions rank third all-time with 26 bowl triumphs followed by the Wolverines (T12th - 19) and Buckeyes (T15th - 18).
BIG TEN BOWL PREVIEWS
CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL: Wisconsin will take part in the Champs Sports Bowl, the program's fifth straight trip to Florida for a postseason contest. The Badgers will kick off a week-long celebration of Big Ten football in Orlando when they square off against the ACC's Florida State for the first time in school history, to be followed by Michigan State playing in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1. Wisconsin will make its first appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl, but returns to Florida after playing in the Outback or Capital One Bowls after each of the last four seasons. Bret Bielema will make his third bowl appearance, including a victory in the 2007 Capital One Bowl and a narrow loss in the 2008 Outback Bowl. Wisconsin will take part in a program-record seventh straight bowl game, breaking the previous record of five consecutive bowl bids set from 1996-2000. The school has played in 19 overall bowl games with a 10-9 record. The Big Ten has produced a record of 1-3 in the Champs Sports Bowl, including a victory by Illinois in 1999 when it was known as the Micronpc.com Bowl.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL: Northwestern will return to bowl action with a trip to the Valero Alamo Bowl after narrowly missing a berth last season with a 6-6 mark. The Wildcats will battle the Big 12's Missouri for the first time since 1987 and the ninth time in school history. The two programs have split their previous eight meetings but this will be their first bowl matchup. Northwestern will play in the Alamo Bowl for the second time after facing Nebraska in 2000. After making only one bowl trip in its first century of college football, the program will be appearing in its sixth bowl since the 1995 season. The recent bowl run was sparked by current head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who led the Wildcats to the 1996 Rose Bowl on his way to winning the Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player. Northwestern is 1-5 in bowl games, as the program looks for its first postseason win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. The Big Ten has produced an 8-6 record in the Valero Alamo Bowl, including recent triumphs by Penn State (2007) and Ohio State (2004).
INSIGHT BOWL: After winning only one game last season, Minnesota returns to bowl play after a one-year hiatus by earning a berth in the Insight Bowl for the second time in three seasons. The Gophers will battle the Big 12's Kansas for the first time since 1973 and the seventh time in school history. The two schools have split their previous six matchups but this will mark their first postseason meeting. Minnesota's only other appearance in the Insight Bowl occurred in 2006, an overtime loss to Texas Tech which marked the program's school-record fifth-straight bowl appearance. In his second year as the head coach, Tim Brewster has led the program to the 13th bowl game in school history. The Gophers are 5-7 overall in postseason play, including triumphs in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Big Ten teams are 2-2 in this game, including victories by Indiana (1991) and Wisconsin (1996) when the game was known as the Copper Bowl.
OUTBACK BOWL: Iowa returns to postseason play for the seventh time in the last eight years with a bid to the Outback Bowl, after missing out on a bowl last season despite a 6-6 record. The Hawkeyes will challenge the SEC's South Carolina for the first time in school annals. Iowa will make its third trip to the Outback Bowl, including a win and a loss to Florida following the 2003 and 2005 seasons, respectively. The program has produced a bowl record of 11-10-1 and has played in January in four of its last five postseason outings. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has won three of six bowl games with the Hawkeyes, including triumphs in the Alamo, Outback and Capital One Bowls. The Big Ten has produced a record of 8-11 in the Outback/Hall of Fame Bowl, including recent victories by Penn State (2007), Iowa (2004) and Michigan (2003).
CAPITAL ONE BOWL: Michigan State returns to Orlando, Fla., for the second straight season with a Capital One Bowl berth after playing in the Champs Sports Bowl last year. The Spartans will square off against the SEC's Georgia for the second time in school history after falling to the Bulldogs in the 1989 Gator Bowl. MSU will make its second trip to the Capital One Bowl, edging Florida in what was then known as the Citrus Bowl following the 1999 season. The school has posted an overall record of 7-11 in bowl games with a mark of 7-10 since joining the Big Ten. Head coach Mark Dantonio has led Michigan State to bowl games in each of his first two seasons on campus. Big Ten squads maintain a 10-8 mark in the Capital One Bowl, including victories in each of the last four years by Iowa (2005), Wisconsin (2006, 2007) and Michigan (2008).
ROSE BOWL: Penn State will take part in the Rose Bowl for the third time overall and the second time since joining the Big Ten in 1993. The Nittany Lions will battle Pac-10 Champion Southern California for the ninth time in school history and the first time since the 2000 season. The two schools have split their four previous meetings, including a 1-1 mark in bowl games. The Nittany Lions fell to the Trojans in the 1923 Rose Bowl before defeating Southern California in the 1982 Fiesta Bowl. PSU made its second trip to Pasadena following the 1994 campaign to beat Oregon and complete a 12-0 season. Joe Paterno will make his 35th bowl appearance at Penn State and boasts 23 victories, both of which stand as NCAA records. Overall, the school has built a 26-12-2 record in postseason play, including a 9-2 mark since joining the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have won their last three bowl games, including triumphs in the Orange, Outback and Alamo Bowls. The Big Ten has produced a 29-32 record in the Rose Bowl including a mark of 29-31 against the Pac-10.
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL: Ohio State will play in its fourth straight BCS contest when the Buckeyes return to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl for the fourth time in seven years. OSU has now qualified for seven BCS games in the 11-year history of the system, which is tied with Southern California and Oklahoma for the lead among all programs. Ohio State heads to Arizona for postseason play for the fifth time in the last seven seasons, including Fiesta Bowl berths in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and a spot in the BCS Championship game, held in Glendale in 2007. The Buckeyes will face the Big 12's Texas for the third time in school history after splitting a pair of regular-season matchups in 2005 and 2006. The four-time defending Big Ten Champions are making their ninth consecutive bowl excursion, including eight straight under head coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes mentor has won four of his last six bowl games overall, including BCS triumphs in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Ohio State will be playing in its 40th bowl, which leads all Big Ten programs, and holds an 18-21 record in postseason play. Big Ten teams have produced a 6-1 mark in the Fiesta Bowl, including a record of 4-1 for the Buckeyes.
BIG TEN. BIG NEWS
Big Ten Standouts Claim National Honors: The Big Ten has collected four individual awards so far this season. Iowa's Shonn Greene earned the Doak Walker Award, the Ohio State pair of Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis took home the Jim Thorpe Award and Lott Trophy, respectively, while Penn State's A.Q. Shipley collected the Rimington Trophy.
Greene earns the Big Ten's fifth Doak Walker Award, granted to the nation's top running back, and the first since Michigan's Chris Perry in 2003. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year becomes the first running back in Iowa history to collect the Doak Walker Award. Greene ranks second in the country in rushing yards per game, averaging just over 144 yards per contest. He found his way into the end zone 17 times this season and averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
Jenkins claims the Big Ten's fifth Jim Thorpe Award, honoring the country's outstanding defensive back, and first since Wisconsin's Jamar Fletcher in 2000. Ohio State garners its second Jim Thorpe Award as Antoine Winfield was honored in 1998. Jenkins played shutdown defense for the Buckeyes in 2008 with nine pass break ups and three interceptions while adding 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
Laurinaitis becomes the first Big Ten student-athlete to win the Lott Trophy, awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Now in its fifth year, The Lott Trophy is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. The Lott award is given to a player who exhibits the same characteristics Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. Laurinaitis collects his third national award in as many years, after being honored with the Butkus Award in 2007 and the Nagurski Award in 2006.
Shipley becomes the first Penn State player to earn the Rimington Trophy, granted to the nation's top center, after being named the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year. The conference has claimed three previous Rimington Trophies, most recently when Greg Eslinger of Minnesota was honored in 2005. Shipley captained a Nittany Lion offensive line that posted 211 rushing yards per game catapulting Penn State to average more then 40 points per contest in all games this season.
Everybody's All-American: Twelve 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 first teams -- Iowa running back Shonn Greene. Other first-team honorees are Michigan State running back Javon Ringer (AP, Walter Camp), the Ohio State pair of defensive back Malcolm Jenkins (AFCA, AP, FWAA, Walter Camp) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (AFCA, AP, Sporting News, Walter Camp) and the Penn State duo of defensive lineman Aaron Maybin (AP, FWAA, Walter Camp) and offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley (FWAA, Walter Camp). Second- or third-team selections include Illini defensive back Vontae Davis, Hawkeyes' defensive lineman Mitch King and offensive lineman Seth Olsen, Buckeyes' offensive lineman Alex Boone and Nittany Lions' offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger and all-purpose player/kick returner Derrick Williams. The complete breakdown of Big Ten All-Americans appears below to the right.
Smart Players: The Big Ten topped all conferences 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 seven first-team selections, matching the second-highest total in conference history behind only the eight first-team honorees in 2006. The Big Ten's total of eight Academic All-Americans led all conferences, followed by the Big 12 with seven selections, all on the second team. The Big Ten's seven first-team honorees nearly matched the total of nine first-team picks from all other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, including five Mountain West selections, two SEC honorees and one choice each from the Pac-10 and Sun Belt. The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten include Illinois' Ryan McDonald, Northwestern's Phil Brunner, Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Penn State's Gerald Cadogan, Josh Hull, Andrew Pitz and Mark Rubin. Second-team honors went to the Nittany Lions' Stefen Wisniewski. McDonald, Robiskie and Cadogan each earned their second consecutive first-team accolades. Penn State's four first-team selections and five overall honorees led the nation. Brigham Young, Dayton and North Dakota State were the only other schools with more than two Academic All-Americans. Penn State is the first school to have five Academic All-America football players since Nebraska in 1997. 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). This GPA standard is higher than the 3.2 required in previous years.
Record Number of Academic All-Big Ten Selections: As the fall term of the 2008-09 school year ended, the Big Ten recognized a total of 186 football student-athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference Team, breaking the previous record of 175 Academic All-Big Ten honorees established last season. 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 (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.