If you watched Nebraska’s season-opening trouncing of Southern Miss on Saturday and thought the Huskers looked different, you were right. For the first time since the 1980s, according to @HuskerExtraBC, Nebraska wore white shoes and socks in favor of their customary black ones. It was a minor tweak, but one Nebraska fans noticed.
With Week 1 behind us, it’s time for my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. Again, I’m doing these a little different this year. Whereas I used to rank the top 10 players – a practice that was tough due to all the talent on both sides of the ball – I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.
Big Ten players were responsible for several terrific plays during Week 1 action. Who can forget Devin Smith’s remarkable one-handed touchdown grab or Le’Veon Bell’s ridiculous run where he hurdled a would-be Boise State tackler? Those are just two of the many highlights the Big Ten put on during its 10-2 opening week. See my top 10 plays, plus a memorable official call, in this post. Also, if you like highlights, make your own reel with our video mashup, presented by La Quinta.
Every Saturday night during the college football season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina hands out his weekly Big Ten game balls. The series is called “U.S. Marines Corps: Leaders of the Week,” and it’s designed to spotlight the Big Ten’s top individual performances. Who took home the honors from Week 1? Find out in this post. Also, watch our network’s Week 1 Sights and Sounds feature now.
The University of Minnesota’s Class of 2016 gathered at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday for a really cool photo op. An annual tradition, the entire class formed Minnesota’s “M” logo, with “2016” below it, at midfield. To little surprise, 5,500-plus students yield a massive logo. The base of the “M” stretched from one 15-yard line to the other – a total of 70 yards. To put it in perspective, that’s more than two basketball courts.
Ever since Bill O’Brien announced Penn State would include last names on the back of its jerseys this fall, people have wondered what it will look like. On Saturday morning, a couple of hours before Penn State’s season opener vs. Ohio, @PennStateFball tweeted a picture of the jerseys hanging in the Penn State locker room.
Andrew Weber-US Presswire
In case you missed it Friday night, Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell put on quite the performance against Boise State. The junior star had his “Heisman Moment,” one could argue, touching the ball 50 times and totaling 265 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans’ 17-13 comeback win at Spartan Stadium. Bell on his big night: “I had no idea how many carries or yards I had. It was the most I’ve had in my collegiate career,” he told The AP. “But I’ve still got a lot of things to work on to get better.” That’s a scary thought for Big Ten defenses. Read more about Bell’s big night in this post.
The 2012 NFL season kicks off Wednesday night, which means it’s time to look back at some of the best plays Big Ten products made during the exhibition season. Watch all the highlights, via links to NFL.com, in this post. And with opening day just around the corner, teams are currently making final cuts. Unfortunately, the list includes several Big Ten names.
Find out more about: Big Ten Pros, Gone Viral
NCAA Football ’13 is a sweet game on any screen. Imagine what it’s like on a 2,100-inch high-definition display. The co-hosts of “ESPNU Road Trip” found out Thursday when they played the game on the gaudy video board at Cowboys Stadium, where Michigan and Alabama meet Saturday afternoon. The hosts, Oliver Ali Nejad and Niki Noto, naturally played as Michigan and Alabama.
Every Minnesota football player will wear a patch on their jersey in honor of late ex-teammate Gary Tinsley during the 2012 season. For Thursday night’s season opener at UNLV, linebacker Keanon Cooper also will wear Tinsley’s old number, No. 51. Cooper normally wears No. 4. Talk about a great tribute for a former teammate and friend.
The Nebraska football program boasts some impressive facilities, that’s no secret. They’re so nice, in fact, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart singled out the team in the “Best Facilities” category of his BTN summer football tour recap. What makes the facilities so great? A lot of things, actually, including the personal touches. And that includes an iPad in every locker. We’ve heard about said iPad’s for a while, but see a picture of the one in Rex Burkhead’s locker in this post.
The Big Ten has gone four consecutive seasons without fielding a team in the BCS title game. Is this the year the streak gets snapped? The Big Ten enters the 2012 season with four teams ranked in the top 16 of the Coaches Poll, led by No. 8 Michigan, so the opportunity is there. But which team is most likely to make this season’s BCS title game?
Find out more about: Debate It
The 2012 Big Ten football season kicks off with Minnesota visiting UNLV late Thursday night. The Week 1 slate continues Friday, as Michigan State takes on always dangerous Boise State, and wraps up Saturday with the conference’s remaining 10 games, including Michigan battling reigning national champ Alabama.
Find out more about: B1G Predictions
With the 2012 college football season kicking off Thursday, it’s time to offer my quick predictions. Where will each team finish in the Big Ten standings? I offer my best guesses. Who are some likely breakout players? I mention a few candidates. And who will hoist the hardware at the second annual Big Ten title game? I see history repeating itself. See all my predictions in this post.
Find out more about: B1G Predictions
Montee Ball isn’t nicknamed The Bus, but he’s on one in Madison, Wis. Take that, Jerome Bettis. The Wisconsin athletic department put Ball on one Madison bus that will travel throughout the city through the end of September. It’s all part of Wisconsin’s “This Fall Belongs to Ball” campaign that promotes its 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist.
Find out more about: Montee Ball
How did Jim Delany get ready for the 2012-13 athletic year? The Big Ten commissioner climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in early August. Delany was part of a group of 10 people, led by 2003 Indiana grad Ben Jones, who reached the summit of the world’s highest freestanding mountain Aug. 8. The group included Kevin Ash and Scott Jenkins from the Rose Bowl and Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky. All 10 members made it to the top under the “Team Rose Bowl” banner.
Find out more about: Jim Delany
Here’s an understatement: Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde is a big boy. At 6-feet, 235 pounds, the junior running back can runs with plenty of power and packs a pretty serious punch. Big Ten linebackers might want to take notice, because if not careful, Hyde will bowl them over.
The image above is of Le’Veon Bell hugging his mother moments after Michigan State’s heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin in last season’s inaugural Big Ten title game. It’s a moment Bell treasures, and it’s one he’ll certainly never forget. That’s because Bell had the image tattooed on his left arm, with the Bible verse Jeremiah 1:5 under it.
Find out more about: Le'Veon Bell
If you haven’t checked out ESPN.com’s 50 in 50 series, do yourself a favor and click that link. The feature ranks the nation’s 50 most successful men’s basketball programs of the last 50 years, and it includes half of the Big Ten teams. Indiana leads the Big Ten, at No. 7, while Michigan State (No. 11), Michigan (No. 13), Ohio State (No. 15), Purdue (No. 20) and Illinois (No. 33) round out the conference’s representatives.
Find out more about: Big Ten Pros, Rankings
The Big Ten is loaded with talent on the defensive line, something we highlighted at media days, so it’s no surprise the Big Ten is well-represented on Athlon’s list of the college football’s top defensive linemen for 2012. Three defensive ends, headlined by Ohio State’s John Simon, at No. 3, and four defensive tackles, led by Purdue’s Kawann Short, at No. 2, made Athlon’s cut. See where the publication ranks all the Big Ten representatives in this post.
Find out more about: Rankings
There was some greatness on the sidelines of Indiana basketball practice Wednesday. Former star Calbert Cheaney, now Indiana’s Director of Operations, was there, per usual, but so too was ex-Duke standout Jay Williams. Williams, now an analyst for ESPN, was in Bloomington to observe the Hoosiers, who many experts think will be a top 5 team in 2012-13. And Indiana coach Tom Crean (@TomCrean) tweeted a picture of the two at practice.
Find out more about: Gone Viral
There’s been a lot of talk about the new scoreboards at Spartan Stadium. The BTN team got a first-hand look at the new additions Wednesday as our annual summer football tour hit East Lansing, and the massive displays did not disappoint. Let’s just say Michigan State fans won’t have any trouble seeing the score, stats, replays, or anything of that kind in 2012.
Quick, which Big Ten practice is featured in the shot above? You may want to say Indiana – especially if you don’t look at the headline or photo credit – but it’s Wisconsin. On Wednesday, the Badgers practiced in the new red helmets they’ll wear in the Big Ten opener Sept. 29 at Nebraska, and the Wisconsin Football Facebook page snapped this photo.
Find out more about: Clothes Call
Michigan State big man Derrick Nix tipped the scales at 270 pounds last season, according to his MSUSpartans.com profile. Nix wants to be in better shape for his senior season, and he’s doing something about it. Something major. He tweeted Tuesday that he will become a vegetarian for the next year. That’s Aug. 20, 2012 to Aug. 20, 2013. See Nix’s tweet in this post.
Find out more about: Derrick Nix
Athlon Sports released its Top 30 Running Backs for 2012, and a quartet of Big Ten backs made the list. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, last year’s Heisman Trophy finalist, leads the Big Ten contingent, at No. 2., behind only South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore. Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead comes in at No. 3, while Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell (No. 14) and Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint (No. 26) round out the Big Ten representatives.
Find out more about: Rankings