QB: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Barrett broke the Big Ten single-season record for touchdowns produced with 45. He would have added to that total if not for a broken ankle in the regular-season finale vs. Michigan.
RB: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: All he did was lead the FBS in rushing, break the Big Ten single-season rushing record and earn the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year honors.
RB: Tevin Coleman, Indiana: Coleman joined Gordon as the only other player in the country to top 2,000 yards; he would have been a serious Heisman contender in another year or on a more successful team.
WR: Tony Lippett, Michigan State: The Big Ten’s receiver of the year led the league with 1,124 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR: Leonte Carroo, Rutgers: Carroo joined Lippett at over 1,000 yards and averaged 19.7 yards per catch.
TE: Maxx Williams, Minnesota: A John Mackey Award finalist, Williams was the Golden Gophers’ top receiver and crucial cog in their run game.
OT: Taylor Decker, Ohio State: Anchored a Buckeyes offensive line that developed into one of the league’s best over the course of the season.
OT: Brandon Scherff, Iowa: He was named the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year and is a surefire NFL first-round draft pick.
C: Jack Allen, Michigan State: The Spartans gave up fewer sacks (10) than any Big Ten club and had one of the league’s top offenses with Allen at the point of attack.
G: Kyle Costigan, Wisconsin: An ESPN All-American, Costigan helped pave the way for Gordon’s record-breaking runs.
G: Pat Elflein, Ohio State: He was a sturdy performer all season on the Buckeyes’ line as the offense scored at a rapid pace.
DE: Joey Bosa, Ohio State: The Big Ten defensive player of the year led the league in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (20) and tied for the lead with four forced fumbles.
DE: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State: After a quiet start, Calhoun got back to his dominating ways and finished with 6.5 sacks.
DT: Anthony Zettel, Penn State: With eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss from the defensive tackle position, Zettel was the most disruptive interior lineman in the conference.
DT: Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa: LTP was a pleasant surprise for the Hawkeyes, leading the team with 11 tackles for loss and adding 6.5 sacks.
LB: Mike Hull, Penn State: Hull was the Big Ten linebacker of the year and led the league with 134 tackles.
LB: Jake Ryan, Michigan: Ryan turned in a strong senior season with 112 tackles and 14 tackles for loss.
LB: Derek Landisch, Wisconsin: Any one of the Badgers’ four “Chevy Bad Boys” linebackers could have made the first team, but Landisch led the team with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
DB: William Likely, Maryland: A big-play machine, Likely grabbed six interceptions and scored touchdowns on two of them.
DB: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota: Like Likely, he was always in the middle of the action with four picks and a key strip late to seal the Nebraska win.
DB: Trae Waynes, Michigan State: Probably the best pure cover guy in the league, Waynes is asked to do a whole lot as the point man in the Spartans' "No Fly Zone."
DB: Michael Caputo, Wisconsin: Caputo was the leader from his safety spot for a defense that was the best in the league during the regular season; he finished with 99 tackles.
K: Brad Craddock, Maryland: The Big Ten kicker of the year made his first 18 field goals this season, including a 57-yarder and a game-winner at Penn State.
P: Peter Mortell, Minnesota: Mortell was a field-position weapon for the Gophers, leading the league with a 45.5-yard average per attempt
PR: De'Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska: The freshman scored three touchdowns on punt returns and had a preposterous 17.8 yard average for the season.
All-purpose: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: We had to find a spot for Abdullah on the team, and since he returned kicks and was extremely versatile as a running back, this seemed like a good spot.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Thursday night that the school is prepared to hire Pitt coach Paul Chryst, a former UW quarterback and offensive coordinator.
It’s a delicate situation, of course, for the Badgers, the uprooted assistant coaches and their families -- not to be taken lightly. But perhaps the most interesting byproduct of Andersen’s unexpected departure is the news that Barry Alvarez will coach Wisconsin in its bowl game. Again.
Alvarez, the 67-year-old athletic director and Hall of Fame former coach of 16 years in Madison, led the Badgers in the 2013 Rose Bowl, a six-point loss to Stanford, after Bret Bielema bolted to Arkansas.
Alvarez ought to just coach the Badgers in every bowl game. In fact, other legends should follow suit and rejoin their former programs on the sideline in the postseason. Surely, the NCAA would allow a special 10th coach. If not, just make them interns.
Let’s bring back Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz, Mack Brown (too soon?), Don Nehlen, Lavell Edwards, Hayden Fry, Barry Switzer and, if Indiana can get to six wins, Bill Mallory.
Yes, I’m joking. Slightly more serious about this, though: Nebraska has an opening on its staff for the Holiday Bowl. How about Tom Osborne? If Alvarez can go from the College Football Playoff selection committee to the sideline, why not Osborne?
Yeah, he’s 77, served three stints in Congress, lost a gubernatorial primary in Nebraska -- did that really happen? -- and spent five years as athletic director since coaching his last game, a resounding win over Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the 1998 Orange Bowl.
But Osborne has perhaps never watched more college football than in this season. He must have some ideas on how the Huskers could surprise USC. One more fumblerooski up his sleeve.
What an experience it would be for Barney Cotton, long loyal to Nebraska, to have the ex-coach at his side. Cotton played under Osborne from 1975-78, then sent his three sons to Nebraska. It could also be a meaningful sendoff for Ron Brown, the Nebraska running backs coach who worked alongside Osborne in the legendary coach’s final 11 seasons.
Might help a bit with ticket sales, too, and inject a little spice into a game that means a great deal to several Huskers who want to honor their former coach, Bo Pelini, but realistically, little to the forward movement of the program.
Alvarez played linebacker for Bob Devaney on Nebraska teams of the 1960s that included Osborne as an offensive assistant. If Barry can do it, so can Tom.
Alas, it’s unrealistic. Osborne would likely never thrust himself into the spotlight in such a way. But just let me dream.
Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida...
Lots of hardware
What a night on the Disney Boardwalk at the College Football Awards Show. The Big Ten had a good showing, as Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff won the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation's top interior lineman; Maryland's Brad Craddock took home the Lou Groza Award as the top place-kicker; and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon beat finalists Tevin Coleman of Indiana and Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska for the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back.
Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright won the Bednarik Award, given to the best defensive player. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was among the finalists.
Also, Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp won a vote for college football's play of the year for his behind-the-back catch in the season opener.
Around the league:
- As expected, Gordon plans to leave after this season for the NFL.
- Some confusion exists over Iowa's starting quarterback for the TaxSlayer Bowl.
- A meeting with Missouri in the Citrus Bowl is a "big step" for Minnesota, according to coach Jerry Kill.
- One of Purdue's recent football brings a French flavor, by way of a California junior college.
- Northwestern needs to make changes, writes Teddy Greenstein, but will it happen?
- The competition continues at Illinois during bowl practices.
- Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have already met once in a playoff. They sat side by side Thursday and recalled the 2009 SEC championship game.
- No surprise that Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess did not meet his own expectations this year.
- The explanation of playoff committee chair Jeff Long on Mississippi State's final-week jump over Michigan State does not erase flaws in the process, writes Graham Couch.
- Indiana lands UAB receiver Marqui Hawkins but misses a juco QB target.
- Freshman quarterback Michael O'Connor is leaving Penn State.
- Maryland coach Randy Edsall, in San Francisco on Thursday, to discuss the Terps' matchup with Stanford, says receiver Stefon Diggs will play in the Foster Farms Bowl.
- The salary pool for Rutgers' assistant coaches ranks eighth in the Big Ten.
Penn State freshman quarterback Michael O'Connor, ESPN's No. 6 signal-caller in the 2014 recruiting class, plans to leave the football program and transfer elsewhere.
He redshirted this season but was expected to compete for the starting job after Christian Hackenberg's departure.
"I loved my time here at Penn State and thank the community for all their support," O'Connor told ESPN.com in a text message.
He committed to former coach Bill O'Brien last year but, two weeks before O'Connor was set to enroll, O'Brien took a job with the NFL's Houston Texans. O'Connor decided to enroll early at Penn State anyway, despite James Franklin's hire not becoming official until the weekend before O'Connor started school.
Franklin also signed quarterback Trace McSorley to Penn State's 2014 recruiting class. Besides Hackenberg, McSorley is now the only scholarship quarterback on the roster.
"We thank Michael for his contributions to the program and wish him well in his future academic and athletic endeavors," Franklin said.
O'Connor is the fifth scholarship quarterback to transfer from Penn State since 2012. The other four were Tyler Ferguson (Louisville), Rob Bolden (LSU, Eastern Michigan), Steven Bench (USF) and Paul Jones (Robert Morris).
Blindsiding Bucky: As if getting destroyed in the Big Ten championship game hadn’t already made for a miserable week for Wisconsin, it somehow got even worse on Wednesday. Which was more shocking, the 59-0 loss to Ohio State on Saturday or Gary Andersen’s swift departure just a handful of days later? For that matter, who could have envisioned he would leave for Oregon State instead of a more prestigious job like maybe Florida or Michigan? This was truly a shocker, and the Badgers are no doubt reeling. The Beavers had previously kicked the tires on Brady Hoke, and a reasonable case could have been made that what amounted to a trade with Nebraska for Bo Pelini would have qualified as a successful hire given his consistent track record as a winner. But instead of two out-of-work Big Ten coaches, Oregon State landed a current division winner. And that means Wisconsin should take a long, hard look in the mirror at itself and figure out why it is looking for another coach.
- Why can't Wisconsin hang on to its coaches lately? Looking at the pros and cons.
- Wisconsin must examine its policies moving forward.
- Will the Badgers turn to former assistants to fill the job?
- Is it just bad luck?
Texas Tom: With a Broyles Award now officially in his trophy case and a cell phone in hand that was already receiving calls about jobs before Tuesday, expect the conversations about Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as a future head coach to continue to heat up while he tries to focus on preparing for the College Football Playoff. After Houston made its opening official on Monday, that seems like a logical landing spot for Herman and a potentially perfect fit for that program with a rising star in the profession who knows the spread attack and has been masterful in developing quarterbacks. On top of that, Herman has previous ties to the area as a former assistant at Rice, and he’s earned a reputation for recruiting in Texas despite the long distance to Ohio State. He might even be able to bring along a Houston native with him to work with the quarterbacks if his former pupil Kenny Guiton is ready to get into the profession.
- The Michigan athletic department has made a hire -- but it's a public relations firm, not a coach.
- Michigan State has a chance to improve its stature against an opponent that has impressed Mark Dantonio.
- Can Penn State slow down Boston College dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy?
- Taking a closer look at what Maryland's assistants are earning.
- Evaluating Rutgers on offense this year as compared to last season.
- The price is steep, but that isn't keeping Ohio State fans from snatching up tickets for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
- Indiana swooped in to pick up a former UAB wide receiver.
- The other Wisconsin departure was anticipated all along, and Melvin Gordon isn't keeping it a secret.
- There's a buzz around the bowl game for Minnesota this postseason.
- Complete details for Mike Riley's contract at Nebraska have been revealed.
- A former Purdue running back is carving out a career as a model after winning a reality show.
- Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff remains a man of few words.
- Illinois is happy to be heading to a bowl game, but it is aware there is work to be done.
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A judge overseeing a lawsuit about the $60 million fine imposed on Penn State by the NCAA as part of a consent decree after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal says the case won't be put into a court-run mediation program.
Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey on Wednesday denied a request by the state treasurer and the senator who brought the lawsuit, saying they're free to keep negotiating with Penn State and the NCAA on their own. She says there's no new information they're closer to a deal.
The judge says she's reluctant to take "unwarranted action" that could delay the trial, scheduled for January.
The lawsuit began to enforce a law requiring the fine to remain within Pennsylvania. It's been widened to address the legality of the consent decree.
Sandusky was convicted but denies molesting children.
Today's question: Other than Ohio State (for obvious reasons), which Big Ten team would benefit the most from a postseason win?
Josh Moyer: The Spartans are still searching for a marquee win, since the closest they have come is a 27-22 victory against Nebraska. They played just two ranked teams all season -- No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Ohio State -- and lost handily in both games. Michigan State just needs to show it won’t struggle against top competition. The defense allowed only 14.4 points per game against unranked opponents, for example. But against Oregon and Ohio State? Try an average of 47.5 points. Not only does Michigan State need this, but so does the Big Ten. A win here would help quiet the College Football Playoff debate by showing the Big 12 isn’t the better conference.
Brian Bennett: Iowa. There's a lot of negativity -- again -- around Kirk Ferentz's program after the Hawkeyes lost their final two games and finished just 7-5 despite a dream schedule. It didn't help that Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst fired Bo Pelini after the Huskers beat Iowa and said he had to evaluate where the Hawkeyes stood in terms of relevance. Iowa fans are very loyal, but they're getting sick of this mediocrity, and a loss to a middling Tennessee team wouldn't help.
Mitch Sherman: Penn State. The Nittany Lions spiraled after a 4-0 start; there’s no other way to spin it. Playing in New York against Boston College, another regional recruiting rival, PSU needs to show it is trending up with James Franklin, who had such momentum through the summer and into late September. The home loss to Maryland hurt. A win to finish this transitional season can ease some of the pain and push Franklin into another productive offseason.
Dan Murphy: Michigan State's only two losses this season came to Ohio State and Oregon. TCU is the only other school in the country that can say it's undefeated against non-playoff teams. A win against Baylor would show that Michigan State deserves to be considered one of the nation's best.
Austin Ward: The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl might not have the most appealing matchup of bowl season, but Illinois should be watched closely in a game that could help shape the trajectory of the team moving forward. Tim Beckman has already been given the green light for another season with the program, but if he can’t knock off a Group of Five team like Louisiana Tech and the Illini finish below .500, those questions about his hot seat could start right back up again quickly.
Adam Rittenberg: Minnesota. The Gophers have dropped consecutive bowl games under Jerry Kill -- they had no business losing last year to Syracuse. It's important for Minnesota to show it can make strides from the end of the regular season into the postseason.
1. The Big Ten announced plans for a conference-wide concussion protocol starting in the 2015 season. The league will have an independent trainer in the press box of every game to monitor for players that show concussion symptoms. The plan is similar to what Michigan instituted in October when quarterback Shane Morris returned to a game with a mild concussion. The Big Ten's new protocol will include disciplinary actions for team's that don't properly report concussions. Having independent concussion monitors on-hand helps trainers on hectic sidelines and it wouldn't be a surprise if other conferences around the country soon followed suit.
2. Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman won the Broyles Award Tuesday, given to the nation's top assistant each year. Herman, the architect of the Buckeyes' No. 4-ranked scoring offense, earned the award this season while twice replacing Heisman contenders at quarterback with barely a hiccup in production. Herman is an engaging personality who will likely be a coveted head coaching candidate in the near future. Herman, 39, is young and so is his offense. Ohio State will return almost all of its firepower next season and will likely be considered one of the best, if not the best, offenses in the country to start the year. Herman will have the luxury of being picky, but with the promising future ahead he probably isn't in any rush to get out of Columbus.
3. In other coaching news, the rumor mill continues to churn in Ann Arbor. The top choice for most Wolverines' fans is current San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, but former Michigan great Charles Woodson said he's not very optimistic that Harbaugh will take the job. Meanwhile, erstwhile coach Brady Hoke made his final official Michigan appearance Monday night at the team's awards banquet. Hoke's players thanked him for showing up when he easily could have skipped the event. It served as a fitting end for a coach who always put his love for his players first, even when it put him in a bad spot.
Now, on to the links...
- Champagne, blaring television sets and back to work: how Urban Meyer found out Ohio State was headed to the playoff.
- Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will reunite with training buddy Bryce Petty at the Cotton Bowl.
- James Franklin flirted with the idea of alternative uniforms for Penn State's football team in a recent teleconference.
- Longtime columnist Jerry Izenberg tells Rutgers' fans to quit whining about spending bowl season in Deroit.
- Maryland cut ties with a committed recruit when he visited another school without checking in first.
- Comedian Adam Sandler had some words of advice for Indiana QB and So. Cal. neighbor Zander Diamont.
- Michigan's top receiver, junior Devin Funchess, will enter the NFL draft rather than stick around for his senior season.
- Losses to Ohio State and Duke (in basketball) last week were a reminder of where Wisconsin stands in the recruiting world.
- Minnesota players are happy to be headed to the Citrus Bowl to wrap up the 2014 season.
- Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne gave a short, warm welcome to new Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley.
- It appears that Iowa's quarterback battle will continue into the postseason.
- A bowl bid has provided a boost for Illinois on the recruiting trail.
- Former Purdue star Dave Butz was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday.
The second question in our roundtable series is this: The Big Ten is an underdog in all 10 matchups. Who has the best chance to pull off an upset?
The Big Ten is an underdog in several of these matchups. Who has the best chance for an upset?
Adam Rittenberg: I look at Penn State and Rutgers. Penn State limped down the stretch at the end of the season, but I think bowl practices can be extremely valuable to the offense, especially the line that struggled so much in Big Ten play. Boston College is a physical team but Penn State's defense should be able to limit the Eagles on the scoreboard. If Christian Hackenberg and the offense makes a few more plays, PSU can win. North Carolina has been wildly inconsistent and I like the way Rutgers fought back against Maryland. Rutgers can run on the Heels all day long.
Josh Moyer: Michigan State was an alluring pick, especially because it's only a two-point underdog. But I still think Gary Andersen's squad stands a better chance at the upset against Auburn. Wisconsin is a far better team than the Big Ten championship indicated, and it's difficult to see a repeat performance from a good team with a good coaching staff. Auburn's defense is nothing special, and Melvin Gordon will be running angry on Jan. 1 -- which is bad news for Auburn fans. It's also worth mentioning the Badgers have only once allowed an opponent to score more than 28 points this season. So Dave Aranda's defense should still be one of the best the Tigers have faced.
Brian Bennett: I realize I'm going way out on a limb here, but how about Maryland? Sure, the Terrapins are flying cross-country to play Stanford in a virtual road game. But how motivated will the Cardinal truly be in Santa Clara after they've played in several major bowl games the past few seasons? And other than the rout of UCLA, Stanford wasn't that impressive all season. Maryland is just a crazy enough team to pull it off.
Austin Ward: Perhaps Boston College won't be a significant favorite, but it is absolutely going to have its hands full with Penn State's stonewall defense. And if that's not enough, the Nittany Lions are going to have plenty of motivation and will be thankful for the chance to play thanks to the removal of their NCAA sanctions, their fans will show up in force and James Franklin will have had a month to work out some kinks on that beleaguered offensive line. Penn State is going to be a dangerous opponent in the postseason.
Dan Murphy: Missouri has already set the precedent of being upset by a Big Ten team (Indiana) this season, so it seems logical to believe the Gophers can follow suit. It won't be an easy day for senior David Cobb in his final game as a college running back, but Minnesota should be able to stick with the Tigers in a low-scoring affair.
Mitch Sherman: Sounds crazy after Saturday, but I actually think Wisconsin can rebound and beat Auburn. Everything snowballed on the Badgers in Indianapolis. They're simply not that bad. I realize Wisconsin lost to LSU, which lost 41-7 to Auburn, but bowl games are strange like that. And Auburn, after playing for the title last season, may lack some of its edge. Wisconsin should be out for redemption and to save face. Alabama and Georgia gouged the Tigers on the ground. I think Melvin Gordon can do the same.
Ohio State (Allstate Sugar Bowl): Urban Meyer and Nick Saban met three times between 2008 and 2010, with the Tide winning the last two meetings. Meyer’s Florida Gators won, 31-20, in the first meeting. … According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, Ohio State would be favored over Florida State -- but it would be an underdog against Alabama, Oregon, TCU, Baylor, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and Oklahoma. … Meyer is one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and one of three finalists for the Maxwell Coach of the Year. … Alabama teams that have been ranked in the top 2 of the AP poll are 5-1 in bowl games in New Orleans and boast six national championships. … Ohio State slightly trailed both Baylor and TCU in game control (No. 8) and strength of W-L (No. 6) but had the advantage in strength of schedule (No. 45). Baylor was No. 59 in that category, while TCU was No. 53.
Michigan State (Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic): The Spartans extended a school record this season with their eighth straight bowl appearance. That is the second-longest streak in the Big Ten and the 13th longest in the country. … Michigan State has won its past three bowl games -- against Georgia, TCU and Stanford -- which is also a school record. It’s also the longest active bowl winning streak in the conference. … Michigan State has made 25 bowls in its history, but it’s never been to the Cotton Bowl, which dates back to 1937. … According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, Michigan State would’ve been favored over Florida State if it had made the playoff.
Minnesota (Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl): The Gophers last played a January bowl game in 1962, when it beat UCLA, 21-3, in the Rose Bowl. … This is Minnesota’s 17th bowl appearance, but it will be just the second time it plays in Florida. … Jerry Kill became just the second coach to guide Minnesota to three straight bowl games. (Glen Mason was the other.) … ESPN.com conducted a September poll by asking coaches: Who would you want your son to play for? Kill tied Stanford’s David Shaw for third with 7 percent of the vote.
Wisconsin (Outback Bowl): Wisconsin has now made 13 straight bowl games -- the seventh-longest streak in the country -- with the past five taking place in January. … The Badgers have played in the Outback Bowl four other times. They’ve lost the past three (to Georgia twice and to Tennessee). … If Melvin Gordon scores one more TD, he would join Barry Sanders and Kevin Smith as the only players with 2,000 yards and 30 TDs in a single season. … Gordon needs just seven rushing yards to surpass USC’s Marcus Allen (2,342 yards) and move into third on the single-season rushing list.
Nebraska (National University Holiday Bowl): This is the Huskers' 51st bowl appearance, the third most in the nation, and their seventh straight appearance. … Mike Riley was named the new head coach Dec. 4 but will not coach in the game. Interim coach Barney Cotton will. … USC and Nebraska have met four other times, including a 2006 and 2007 home-and-home series, and the Trojans hold a 3-0-1 advantage.
Iowa (TaxSlayer Bowl): Since 2001, no Big Ten team has won more bowl games or has a higher bowl winning percentage than Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 6-5 during that time. … Under Kirk Ferentz, Iowa is 4-2 against current SEC teams in bowl games. … Iowa last played in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 1983 (then known as the Gator Bowl), when it lost to Florida by a score of 14-6.
Maryland (Foster Farms Bowl): This will be the first meeting between Maryland and Stanford. … The Terrapins are the biggest underdog in the conference this postseason, as Stanford is a two-touchdown favorite. … Maryland is 11-12-2 all time in bowls but has won five of its past seven. … Maryland last appeared in San Francisco to face Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl in 2007. It lost 21-14.
Penn State (New Era Pinstripe Bowl): This is the first time the Nittany Lions will be playing in the new Yankee Stadium, but they played three times previously in the old stadium. Of course, that last trip was quite a while ago -- Penn State last played there in 1929 when it lost to NYU, 7-0. … This is Penn State’s 45th bowl game, tied for ninth most in the nation. … The Lions’ defense is one of just two that ranked in the top 10 this season in all of the following categories: rushing defense (No. 1), total defense (No. 2), scoring defense (No. 8), pass efficiency defense (No. 2) and defensive third-down conversion percentage (No. 6).
Rutgers (Quick Lane Bowl): This is the ninth bowl appearance in 10 seasons for Rutgers. Prior to the 2005 season, the Knights had played in just one bowl (1978) in school history. … Kyle Flood is the first coach in school history to lead Rutgers to a bowl in his first three seasons. … The Quick Lane is one of five new bowl games in this year’s lineup. … Player gifts for the bowl include a Fathead made in each participant’s likeness; the winner also gets a $25,000 locker room makeover.
Illinois (Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl): This is Illinois’ first bowl appearance since 2011 and the 18th in program history. Illinois’ bowl record is 8-9 overall. … The Illini are one of just two Big Ten teams with a bowl winning streak – the other is Michigan State – as Illinois won the 2010 Texas Bowl (over Baylor) and the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (over UCLA). … Tim Beckman’s squad has posted five comebacks on the year, and four wins came after trailing in the fourth quarter.
Here is a look at what teams might benefit from the bowl game they will play in and why they could see a positive impact on the recruiting trail.
The regular season might be over, but there is still plenty of recruiting to be done. Here is a look at the biggest recruiting news from the past week and a look ahead within the Big Ten.
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1. 0-10 this postseason?: Call it disrespect, a conspiracy, an underestimation -- or the cold, hard truth. But Vegas currently has the Big Ten as an underdog in every single bowl game. Michigan State (vs. Baylor) and Penn State (vs. Boston College) currently have the best chance to win, according to VegasInsider, as both are just three-point underdogs. The team with the biggest point spread? Maryland. Stanford is a 14-point favorite in that matchup.
The conference didn't draw an easy lot with its top-five bowl matchups, but the other five are somewhat surprising. Louisiana Tech -- which lost to both Northwestern State and Old Dominion -- is a five-point favorite over Illinois, for example. We Big Ten bloggers will submit our bowl predictions in the near future … but I can't see any of us picking the Big Ten to win zero games. That being said, even a .500 record here has to be considered a victory. These opponents certainly aren't push-overs.
2. Coach of the Year: Let's rewind for a second. Remember how Urban Meyer somehow didn't win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award last week, losing out to Minnesota's Jerry Kill? Well, we bloggers all thought that was pretty ridiculous -- but it could look even more out-of-place in the near future. Meyer was named one of eight finalists for the national Eddie Robinson Award, which is given to the nation's best coach on Jan. 10.
He's not a favorite to win, but it's certainly odd to see a coach as a national candidate but not a conference winner. Also odd: ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy recently polled coaches from around the nation on college football's best coach. Meyer placed second, behind only TCU's Gary Patterson. Kill is undoubtedly a great coach and deserves recognition, but can we all agree it was a great disservice not to name Meyer named B1G coach of the year? I still don't understand the decision …
3. Bowl swag: We offered up a list of which B1G teams are getting what gifts this bowl season. And there are three interesting tidbits to point out. First of all, the “coolest gift” award has to go to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl, as each player will get a Fathead made in their likeness. Detroit isn't the best bowl destination -- just ask Central Michigan here -- but Fathead is based there. Maybe a beach destination in exchange for a Fathead would've be a better deal but, hey, it's still a cool gift. The worst gift? That'd probably go to Penn State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, where the Nittany Lions will receive a “variety of New Era products.”
I don't know about you, but hats and T-shirts only get me so excited. I don't know exactly what those New Era gift bags entail, but I can't imagine that “New Era products” beats Minnesota's or Nebraska's $440-plus Best Buy shopping spree. And a final note: What's with the Fossil watches? Half the Big Ten teams are receiving them this year. Let's be honest, wristwatches are like the candy corn of the bowl season.
- The teaching of Ohio State's coaching staff saved the season -- twice.
- Playing Baylor could be good for Michigan State's credibility.
- Tevin Coleman was not named a Heisman finalist, despite Indiana facing three of the Big Ten's top rushing defenses.
- The Quick Lane Bowl was eager to welcome Rutgers.
- Randy Edsall says the Foster Farms Bowl was "at the top of our list."
- Michigan players heaped praise on their former coach, Brady Hoke.
- James Franklin is counting on extra bowl practices to help Penn State in the future.
- Wisconsin's Gary Andersen and Auburn's Gus Malzahn remember their first meeting in 2011.
- Minnesota's all-time leading rusher, Darrell Thompson, is "beyond excited" about the Citrus Bowl. Tickets are off to a fast start.
- Mike Riley can work with Nebraska's talent, which it showed against Iowa.
- Illinois is now facing a dilemma at quarterback.
- Iowa's bowl may be flying under the radar, but it could still be a step forward for the program.
- Akeem Hunt was named Purdue's offensive MVP and addressed the media after an awards banquet.
As is the case every season, players will receive gifts from their respective bowls as a reward for competing. Some will attend "gift suites," a private event in which players can pick gifts from an order form, while others will be given souvenirs more reflective of the bowl game. (The Hawaii Beach Bowl gives out sunglasses, swimming trunks and a beach towel, for example.) Some will be fortunate enough to receive both.
The NCAA allows up to $550 to be spent on each player. And the bowls provide gifts for up to 125 participants from each school.
So, without further ado, here's a look at the swag that Big Ten players can expect to receive -- thanks to the annual list published by SportsBusiness Daily:
Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State -- Gift suite, Fossil watch, New Era cap
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Baylor -- N/A; bowl committee would not disclose
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: No. 25 Minnesota vs. No. 16 Missouri -- $447 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip, watch, athletic performance shirt
Outback Bowl: No. 18 Wisconsin vs. No. 19 Auburn -- $150 Best Buy gift card, Outback Steakhouse gift card, Fossil watch, Jostens ring, cap
National University Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. No. 24 USC -- $445 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip, Fossil watch, cap
TaxSlayer Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee -- Panasonic gift suite, Fossil watch
Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland vs. Stanford -- Gift suite, Fossil watch
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State vs. Boston College -- Different New Era products
Quick Lane Bowl: Rutgers vs. North Carolina -- $250 Best Buy gift card, Sony headphones, custom-made Fathead for each player in their likeness, various apparel, football
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl: Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech -- Gift suite, Ogio Marshall Pack backpack, beanie, Big Game football
1. The Big Ten promised freshness and better matchups with its new bowl lineup, and for the most part, the league delivered.
Minnesota is doing back flips about finally having an attractive bowl destination and its first New Year's Day game since 1962. Wisconsin heads to Tampa for the first time since 2008. Nebraska is going to a familiar spot in the Holiday Bowl, but at least the Huskers aren't traveling to Florida for a fourth straight year (and who could complain about a trip to San Diego?). Iowa will play in Jacksonville for the first time since 1983. Maryland gets a San Francisco treat.
The matchups are appealing as well, not to mention extremely challenging. Add in the major bowls, and Big Ten teams will face Alabama, Baylor, Auburn, USC, Missouri and Stanford, among others. Few if any of these games will be easy, and the Big Ten figures to be an underdog in most of them. That, actually, is not all that new.
2. The College Football Playoff selection committee could have chosen Baylor or TCU over Ohio State and made a perfectly reasonable case for it. The difference between those three teams and their credentials is razor thin.
But all along, we were told that conference championships would matter, and so would strong nonconference schedules. The Big 12 chose to not have a conference title game and further muddled things with its co-champions controversy. Even more damning was Baylor's nonconference schedule (SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo). Though the committee's objective is to select the four best teams and not send messages, choosing a team with Baylor's schedule would have hurt the entire sport. At least Ohio State tried to schedule decent teams, playing Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Navy. If Baylor's approach had succeeded, you could have looked forward to a lot of canceled high-profile matchups and more patsies.
A month ago, with Mississippi State riding a cupcake schedule toward the top at the time, I questioned whether the Big Ten's strategy of adding tough nonconference teams still made sense. We got our answer on Sunday. And it was an answer that will ultimately be good for all of college football.
3. I was very quick to forgive Cardale Jones for his infamous tweet in 2012 ("Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS"). He was young and dumb, and I am eternally grateful that social media wasn't around when I was that age.
There have been no indications of any problems with Jones since, and he earned a place in Buckeyes lore on Saturday night by leading Ohio State to its 59-0 win against Wisconsin in his first career start.
Still, the fact that Jones hoisted the Big Ten title game MVP trophy literally just a few blocks away from NCAA headquarters was at least a little ironic, no? I doubt he will be asked to star in one of those "Most of us are going pro in something other than sports" ads any time soon.
More links ...
- How sweet it is for Ohio State. The Buckeyes had a major advantage over the Big 12.
- Playing Baylor could help build Michigan State's credibility.
- James Franklin is eager to bring Penn State to the Big Apple.
- Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa made major changes this year.
- Michigan's next coach will need to have autonomy.
- Wild but true: Adam Sandler told Indiana QB Zander Diamont to stop smoking cigars.
- Wisconsin has a chance to flush its Big Ten title-game flop against Auburn.
- New Nebraska coach Mike Riley has shown a penchant for developing quarterbacks.
- Purdue added a trio of commitments over the weekend.
- Mike Thomas wants to make sure Illinois is not a one-hit bowl wonder.
- Kirk Ferentz called Iowa's finish "disappointing."
DEC. 27, 4:30 P.M. ET, YANKEE STADIUM, BRONX, N.Y. (ESPN)
BOSTON COLLEGE BREAKDOWN
Season highlights: Few scenes in college football this season could compare to the one in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on Sept. 13, as the Eagles upset then-No. 9 USC 37-31, leading to a prime-time field-storming. More special than the victory itself was whom it was for, as BC donned red bandana-themed uniforms in honor of alum and 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, whose family was given a game ball in the locker room from second-year coach Steve Addazio. Beating Virginia Tech for the second straight year, on Nov. 1 in Blacksburg, made the Eagles bowl eligible for the second year in a row.
Season lowlights: A 24-21 home loss to Colorado State on Sept. 27 looked bad at the time, but CSU ended up winning 10 games this season, easing the pain of that defeat. BC played subpar in home losses to Pitt and Louisville, but neither probably hurt more than losses to Clemson (17-13) and Florida State (20-17), division powers that BC was a play away from beating (a year after giving both teams great shots too).
Player to watch: Tyler Murphy is arguably the best transfer pickup in college football this season. The former Florida quarterback -- whom Addazio recruited to Gainesville during his time as an assistant there -- enrolled at BC during the spring semester, won the starting job and hasn't slowed down since. Murphy broke the ACC record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,079) and scored 10 rushing touchdowns. He has thrown for 1,526 yards and 11 scores, with 10 interceptions, as he has given BC a completely different look on offense from a year ago.
Motivation factor: A victory would make BC 8-5 and show improvement over Addazio's first season, when the Eagles went 7-6. It would also be his first bowl victory with the Eagles. More than anything, every little step is a sign of progress for a program that was coming off a two-win season in 2012 when Addazio took over. He has said this is a five-year rebuilding job. If he is winning seven or eight games a year while "rebuilding," the buzz and potential around the program will continue to grow as he lands more recruiting classes.
-- Matt Fortuna
Season highlights: The Nittany Lions’ season started promisingly enough. Christian Hackenberg opened by throwing for 454 yards against UCF in a 26-24 win as he drove the offense downfield and Sam Ficken hit a last-second, game-winning field goal. A few weeks later, Hackenberg was instrumental in guiding Penn State to a last-minute 13-10 win over Rutgers. Since then, the defense has dominated -- but wins have been hard to find. On the bright side, Bill Belton rushed for a 92-yard touchdown against Indiana in a 13-7 win. And the Lions did force Ohio State into double overtime before losing 31-24.
Season lowlights: The offensive line was a bad punch line for much of the season, but it hit a new low against Northwestern in a 29-6 loss. Offensive guard Brian Gaia closed his eyes and inadvertently blocked a teammate as Penn State failed to convert a fourth-and-1 play. (The clip went viral.) A 16-14 loss to Illinois caused alumni -- such as running back Ki-Jana Carter -- to criticize the offense on Twitter; Carter called it “ridiculous” and “embarrassing.” Then there was the loss to Maryland after the Terps’ team captains refused to shake hands.
Player to watch: LB Mike Hull. He was named the Big Ten linebacker of the year, and he is the heart of the nation’s top-ranked rush defense and No. 3 total defense. He has the ability to take over a game and has more than twice as many stops as the No. 2 tackler on Penn State. Hull has 134 tackles, notched 10.5 tackles for loss and had a hand in three turnovers. He’s not the biggest linebacker at 6-foot-0, 223 pounds, but he’s smart, fast and strong.
Motivation factor: This bowl game is a bonus of sorts for Penn State. When the Nittany Lions received sanctions in the summer of 2012, stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, they were also punished with a four-year postseason ban. But that ban was lifted in September. Thousands of Penn State fans crowded the streets in the hours following the announcement, some surfing on mattresses, to celebrate the news. For Penn State, this is its first bowl since the 2011 season. And this team doesn’t want the seniors who stuck with this program to end their careers with a loss.
-- Josh Moyer
Penn State Lands ESPN 300 CB Taylor
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State