Two Big Ten stars expect to return to action in the opening week of the Big Ten football season. Northwestern quarterback and preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Dan Persa is slated to make his season debut against instate rival Illinois, while Nebraska standout defensive lineman Jared Crick, who missed last week’s game, practiced Monday in preparation for the Huskers’ much-anticipated Big Ten opener at Wisconsin. Get all the latest updates on our freshest edition of the “Big Ten Blast.”
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Monday night on “The Big Ten Pulse,” Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead stopped by to chat with Rick Pizzo, Derek Rackley and Tim Doyle about the Huskers’ much-anticipated Big Ten debut at Wisconsin. Burkhead, who has run for 290 yards and four touchdowns the past two weeks, is the Big Ten’s leading rusher among running backs, trailing quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez. In last week’s win at Wyoming, Burkhead took snaps out of the Wildcat formation. Can we expect more of it against the Badgers? “If he [Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck] wants to, that’s fine with me,” Burkhead told our crew.
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For the first time in program history, the Illinois volleyball team is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Poll, released Monday. The Illini, who were No. 3 last week, received 55 of the 60 first-place votes after opening Big Ten play with a pair of wins to move to 13-0 on the season. No. 7 Nebraska, No. 9 Penn State, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 12 Purdue, No. 17 Michigan and No. 22 Ohio State also made the poll. Get more on the latest volleyball news every Monday on “The Women’s Sports Report.” Watch our interview with Illinois’ Colleen Ward now.
It’s finally that time. Big Ten play kicks off Saturday, starting with a trio of noon ET games, including Michigan (4-0) hosting Minnesota (1-3) on BTN. Now that the full weeks of nonconference action are a thing of the past, BTN.com web editor and blogger Brent Yarina looks back at the first four weeks and offers his nonconference Big Ten honors. Watch now as “The Big Ten Pulse” also discusses nonconference awards and see all of Brent’s winners in this post.
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Michigan’s defense has face plenty of criticism over the past few seasons. But tonight at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Breakdown our Mike Hall, Chris Martin and Howard Griffith take a look at how dominating the Wolverines defensive unit was against San Diego State. Follow all three on Twitter: @BTNMikeHall, @BTN_Cmart16, and @HowardGriffith and jump down in this post to send in your nominees to Martin and Howard for your Big Ten players of the week.
And here we are at the first week of Big Ten Conference games with five Big Ten teams in the Coaches Top 25. A quick look ahead: Northwestern (2-1) at Illinois (4-0) (noon ET/ESPN2), Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (1-3) (noon/ESPNU), Minnesota (1-3) at Michigan (4-0) (noon ET/BTN), Michigan State (3-1) at Ohio State (3-1) (3:30 p.m./ABC), and Nebraska (4-0) at Wisconsin (4-0) (8 p.m./ABC). Iowa (3-1) has a bye and in non-conference games, it’s Notre Dame (2-2) at Purdue (2-1) (8 p.m./ESPN). How will the Legends and Leaders standings change by this time next week? Jump down in this post and vote now on each match-up. Also today, the Big Ten announced the weekly football honors.
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On The Big Ten Pulse at 6:30 p.m. ET tonight, Rick Pizzo, Tim Doyle and Derek Rackley take a crack at tackling the big stories for the upcoming week. Start the hype machine! It’s Nebraska vs. Wisconsin! How big is this game? Plus, the guys interview Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead and ask him how ready is he for Big Ten Conference play. Also, don’t forget our favorite segment “Who Ya Got?” where Rackley and Doyle square off. What’s your answer to two of our questions? Jump down in the post and vote.