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Big Ten Weekly Football Release - Oct. 19

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Penn State running back Evan Royster led the Nittany Lions to a sixth win and bowl eligiblity last weekend.

Penn State running back Evan Royster led the Nittany Lions to a sixth win and bowl eligiblity last weekend.

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Oct. 19, 2009

FACES OF THE BIG TEN: A.J. Edds, Iowa

A.J. Edds, a three-year letterman after playing as a true freshman, is a member of Iowa's prestigious leadership council. He has been named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team in each of the last two years. He has also been extremely active in visiting children at the University's Children's Hospital and was also one of many who helped during the cleanup process after the flood ravaged Iowa City in the summer of 2008. Edds is currently averaging 6.1 tackles per game for a Hawkeyes' defense ranked among the nation's top 25 in both total and scoring defense.

BIG TEN. BIG NEWS.

Nine Teams with Winning Records: The Big Ten leads all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences with nine teams boasting winning records through seven weeks of play. Iowa leads the way at 7-0, while Penn State stands at 6-1. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin are each 5-2, while four Big Ten teams have produced 4-3 marks in Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. The Big 12 ranks second nationally with eight winning teams, while the Pac-10 and SEC each feature seven schools with records above .500.

Streaking Hawkeyes Remain Unbeaten: With a victory at Wisconsin on Saturday, Iowa improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1985, when the team sprinted to a 7-0 start on the way to the school's last outright Big Ten title. Overall, two more unbeatens fell last week to leave only seven FBS schools yet to suffer a loss. The Hawkeyes and Alabama have each won their first seven contests, while five teams stand at 6-0 in Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Texas and Texas Christian. Iowa has now won 11 consecutive games overall, including four victories to close the 2009 campaign, capped by a triumph in the Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes' 11-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among all FBS schools behind only Florida's current 16-game winning streak. The last time Iowa was victorious in 10 or more consecutive games was when the program won 20 straight contests between 1920 and 1923. The last Big Ten team to record 11 or more consecutive wins was Ohio State, which won 19 straight during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The Hawkeyes have never started a season with eight straight wins and will look to improve to 8-0 with a road contest at Michigan State on Saturday.

Four Big Ten Teams Ranked in First BCS Poll: The Big Ten and SEC tied for the lead among all conferences with four teams each among the top 25 in the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings. Undefeated Iowa led the Big Ten at No. 6 in the opening BCS poll, the Hawkeyes' first BCS rating since Oct. 15, 2006, and the highest ranking for the school since appearing fifth in the last three polls of the 2002 campaign (Nov. 25, Dec. 2, Dec. 8). Also appearing in the initial BCS rankings were No. 13 Penn State, No. 19 Ohio State and No. 21 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have appeared in at least one BCS poll in 10 of the system's 12 years, making them one of only five programs to be ranked by the BCS in 10 or more years, a group that includes Florida, Michigan, Texas and Virginia Tech. The Nittany Lions have now been rated by the BCS in eight of 12 years, one of only 13 programs to accomplish that feat. The Badgers return to the BCS poll for the first time since the 2007 season and have now made an appearance in the BCS rankings in five of the last six seasons.

New Big Ten Tie-Breaker: As a reminder, the Big Ten tie-breaker to determine the conference's automatic representative to the BCS has changed for the 2009 campaign. As in the past, the first tie-breaker will be head-to-head matchups. The second tie-breaker will now be each team's overall record. If there is still a tie after the first two tie-breakers, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings shall be the representative. Please note that this tie-breaker is used only to determine the conference's BCS automatic representative -- if multiple teams tie for first place, each of those teams will earn a share of the Big Ten Championship.

Penn State Joins Iowa as Big Ten's Second Bowl-Eligible Team: After improving to 6-1 last weekend, Penn State joined Iowa as the second Big Ten team to become eligible for bowl competition this season, while seven other conference teams are now less than two wins away from bowl eligibility. The Nittany Lions are looking for their fifth straight bowl trip and 36th postseason contest under head coach Joe Paterno, who is the NCAA's all-time leader in bowl victories (23) and bids (35). Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin all stand at 5-2, just one win from bowl eligibility.  After finishing with only three wins in the first season under head coach Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines are looking for their 40th bowl bid. The Buckeyes are targeting their ninth consecutive bowl under head coach Jim Tressel and have played in 40 bowl contests, the most among all Big Ten schools. Badgers' mentor Bret Bielema is looking for his fourth bowl trip in as many seasons at the helm and eighth consecutive postseason game for the program. With 4-3 marks, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern are just two triumphs away from becoming eligible for a spot in a bowl game. The Big Ten has seven bowl tie-ins this season - the Rose Bowl/Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight and Little Caesars Pizza Bowls. If the Big Ten champion (or co-champion) is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS rankings, then that team will participate in the BCS National Championship Game, to be played on Jan. 7, 2010, in Pasadena, Calif.

National Award Watch: With the 2009 season now nearly half over, the preseason watch lists for national awards are being whittled down to semifinalists and finalists, and four Big Ten standouts made the cut last week. Michigan's Obi Ezeh, Michigan State's Greg Jones and Penn State's Sean Lee were among the 16 semifinalists named for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. Named for Hall of Famer and Illinois legend Dick Butkus, eight conference players have earned this award, most recently when Ohio State's James Laurinaitis was the winner in 2007. Nittany Lions quarterback Daryll Clark was one of 10 finalists named for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented to the country's top senior signal caller.

Illinois and Purdue Battle for Cannon: In a conference that features 15 traditional trophy games, another will be on the line Saturday when Illinois and Purdue battle for the Purdue Cannon. In 1905, a group of Purdue students took the Cannon to Champaign in anticipation of firing it to celebrate a victory. Although Purdue did win the game, Illinois supporters had discovered the Cannon in its hiding place and confiscated it. When the rivalry resumed after a 12-year lapse in 1943, the Cannon first served as a trophy for the winner. The Illini and Boilermakers will be meeting for the first time since 2006, when Purdue earned its fourth straight triumph to maintain possession of the Cannon. The two schools have played for the Cannon on 57 occasions, with Purdue holding a narrow 29-26-2 advantage.

More Close Calls: For the second straight weekend, the Big Ten schedule will feature one of the closest series in conference annals. Last weekend, Iowa defeated Wisconsin to improve to 42-41-2 in the all-time series. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes will play in another tight rivalry, as they hold a slight two-game edge over Michigan State with an all-time record of 20-18-2. Only two other Big Ten series of 30 games or longer are within two games, including Michigan State-Purdue (Spartans lead 30-28-3) and Illinois-Wisconsin (Illini lead 36-34-7).

Big Ten Schedule Announced for Oct. 31: The following schedule has been confirmed for games on Oct. 31. Final determination of television will be made following the contests on Oct. 24.

Indiana at Iowa, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2
Purdue at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2
New Mexico State at Ohio State, Noon ET, Big Ten Network
Michigan at Illinois, 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC (regional - ESPN or ESPN2 outer-market)
Penn State at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2
Michigan State at Minnesota, 7 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network

More Big Ten Notes: Additional notes were posted last week on the Big Ten football blog at www.bigten.org/blog/fb_blog.html, including the announcement of the conference's 2010-13 bowl lineup, Iowa's Tony Moeaki being named  the John Mackey Award National Tight End of the Week for his performance on Oct. 10, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan being tabbed the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his Oct. 17 effort and the Boilermakers' Carson Wiggs being named a Lou Groza Award "Star of the Week" for his play on Oct. 17.

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS - OCT. 17

OFFENSE:
IOWA QB Ricky Stanzi:
Completed 17-of-23 passes (73.9 pct.) for 218 yards with one TD at Wisconsin, including connecting on 11-of-13 tosses for 162 yards and a TD in the second half alone.
MICH RB Vincent Smith: After rushing for 35 yards in his first four games, freshman exploded for a career-best 166 yards on 17 carries (9.8 avg.), including a six-yard TD in the first quarter against Delaware State.
NU WR Zeke Markshausen: Hauled in a career-best 16 passes for 111 yards (6.9 avg.) with a TD against Michigan State; the 16 catches rank second in school history and fourth in conference annals.
PSU RB Evan Royster: Recorded ninth career outing of 100 yards or more with 23 carries for 137 yards (6.0 avg.) against Minnesota.
PUR QB Joey Elliott: Set career highs with 31 completions and 50 attempts to complete 62.0 percent of his passes for 281 yards and two TDs, both in the second half to knock off Ohio State.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
IOWA K Daniel Murray:
Connected on both field goal attempts (37, 48), including a career-long 48-yarder, and both PATs at Wisconsin.
MINN P Blake Haudan: Recorded six punts for 299 yards (49.8 avg.), including two inside the 20-yard line and a long of 56 yards at Penn State.
PSU K Collin Wagner: Hit two-of-three field goals (47, 27), including a career-long 47-yarder, and added a 22-yard pooch punt downed at the Minnesota 10-yard line.

DEFENSE:
IND DE Jammie Kirlew:
Forced two fumbles against Illinois while racking up nine tackles (all solo) and a two-yard sack.
IOWA CB Amari Spievey: Picked off two passes and recorded six tackles (four solo) to help hold Wisconsin to 58 yards of total offense after halftime.
MICH DE Brandon Graham: Recorded two sacks (-9 yards) for the second straight game, part of a three-tackle performance (all solo) against Delaware State.
MSU LB Eric Gordon: Collected a career-high 15 tackles (five solo) with 2.5 TFLs (-11 yards), including a six-yard sack against Northwestern.
MINN LB Lee Campbell: Registered 13 tackles (four solo) and 1.5 TFLs (-2 yards) at Penn State.
PSU LB Navorro Bowman: Recorded a team-high eight tackles (four solo) and two TFLs (-4 yards) to help blank Gophers, PSU's first shutout since 2007 and first shutout in conference play since 2006.
WIS LB Chris Borland: Freshman thrust into action after injury to starter and set career highs with 10 tackles (seven solo) and 2.5 TFLs (-10 yards), including a nine-yard sack and a forced fumble.