After giving an incredibly spirited effort Northwestern accomplished something it had not done since Sept. 5, 1987, but the end result was not what the Wildcats strived for as they fell to No. 8 Penn State at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa., 3-2 (19-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-13, 15-11). After fighting back from one-set deficits in the second and fourth frames, the Wildcats did not have enough left in the tank to knock off the four-time defending national champions in their own building in the decisive fifth.
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Wednesday night on “Big Ten Football & Beyond,” BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo broke down Michigan’s improved defense, which has gone from the worst unit in program history to a strong group in just one season. A year ago, the Wolverines defense compiled all-time worst numbers in points per game (35.2), total yards (450.8), passing yards per game (261.8) and yards per play (6.1). In Year 1 under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison – at least through the first five games – those numbers look like this: 10.2 ppg, 316.2 total yards, 176.8 passing yard and 5.2 yards per play. That’s a very quick turnaround. How’d they do it, Coach? Watch now as DiNardo breaks it all down.
At 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Northwestern hosts undefeated Michigan on BTN. To get ready for the primetime contest, we’re asking our fans on Facebook to rank some of the best scoring plays from recent Michigan-Northwestern games. Not a fan of BTN on Facebook? Become one, and then you can vote. Oh, and don’t forget Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith will be on-site at Ryan Field at 6 p.m. ET for a very special hour-long Countdown To Kickoff show.
CHICAGO – Face paint, chants, cheerleaders, marching bands, pep rallies, grilling and die-hard fans are all part of the excitement surrounding Big Ten football. BTN gives fans an inside look at how Big Ten campuses prepare for game day with its new show Tailgate 48, presented by Omaha Steaks. Tailgate 48 kicks off with a trip to Camp Randall Stadium to capture the pregame festivities and party atmosphere as Wisconsin hosted Nebraska in the Huskers’ Big Ten debut. The new eight-episode series airs at 7 PM ET Thursdays beginning tomorrow.
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A trio of Big Ten products land on ESPN.com’s Rookie Watch, which ranks the NFL’s top 10 rookies every week. Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) leads the group, at No. 3, up four spots form last week, J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) comes in at No. 7 and Adrian Clayborn (Iowa) rounds out the contingent, at No. 9. Kerrigan skyrocketed up the list after recording another sack Sunday, his third sack in as many games. Here’s what Matt Williamson said about Kerrigan: “Kerrigan continues to make big plays. He is a game-changer. And Kerrigan now has a sack in three straight games. Having Brian Orakpo on the opposite side certainly helps Kerrigan’s cause, but this guy is a fine player already in his own right.”
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Penn State coach Joe Paterno is getting rid of his cane and says he’ll be on the sidelines this week. That’s just one of the tidbits you can hear in the audio from the weekly Big Ten Conference football coaches teleconference with reporters. Read the selected tweets from @B1Gfootball at the conference office, then listen to any of the 12 Big Ten football coaches now.
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Sporting News has released its annual Best Sports Cities: The list from 1 to 271, and Big Ten cities are very well represented. Three cities land in the top 15, headlined by Chicago, which includes Evanston, at No. 4, and 11 of the 12 schools land in the top 100. Dallas-Fort Worth came in at No. 1, while Boston, Philadelphia and New York round out the top 5. How’s the list constructed? Sporting News assigns point values to various categories, including but not limited to, won-lost records, postseason appearances, applicable power ratings, number of teams and attendance. See where all the Big Ten cities land in this post.