Three Big Ten teams vault into BCS rankings

Sarah Mitchell

It seems the race to the Rose Bowl has come down to two teams.
Northwestern (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) and Purdue (7-2, 5-1) are tied for the lead in Big Ten standings. If the Boilermakers win out, they go to Pasadena.
Purdue and Northwestern are two of four bowl-eligible Big Ten teams. Ohio State and Michigan have also hit the six game win mark.
Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin are just one win away from becoming bowl-eligible.
BCS rankings
Three Big Ten teams made this week’s BCS standings.
The Boilermakers are the highest ranked at No. 10. Ohio State is close behind at No. 13 while Northwestern makes its BCS debut at No. 15.
At the end of the regular season, the two highest ranked teams in the standings square off for the national championship. Oklahoma and Florida State hold the top two spots, respectively.
Lombardi Award finalists
A pair of Big Ten players were named finalists for the Lombardi Award, which is given to the nation’s outstanding lineman of the year.
Minnesota center Ben Hamilton and Michigan guard Steve Hutchinson made the cut.
Hamilton is the first Gopher to be selected as a finalist for the award. The senior has started 42 of 43 career games. Hamilton has not allowed a sack since his sophomore season.
Hutchinson has made 41 starts with the Wolverines and is poised to become the program’s second player to earn first-team All-Big Ten in four consecutive seasons.
Nebraska center Dominic Raiola and Florida State defensive end Jamal Reynolds join Hamilton and Hutchinson as finalists. The winner will be announced Dec. 6.
Players of the week
For the second consecutive week, a pair of quarterbacks share offensive player of the week honors. Illinois’ Kurt Kittner and Northwestern’s Zak Kustok were both recognized.
In the Illini’s 42-35 comeback win over Indiana, Kittner completed 21-of-29 passes. for 277 yards and three touchdowns, including his one-yard rushing touchdown for the win.
Kustok racked-up 377 yards total offense, helping the Wildcats to a 54-51 defeat of Michigan. In the air, Kustok collected 322 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed 16 times for 55 yards and two scores.
Wisconsin linebacker Nick Griesen was named defensive player of the week. Griesen recorded 15 tackles — 11 solo — in his team’s 41-20 win over Minnesota. Three of Griesen’s tackles were for loss , including a pair of sacks.
Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding was named special teams player of the week. In his team’s 26-23 double- overtime victory at Penn State, Kaeding tied an Iowa record for field goals in a game with four (49, 48, 46 and 26-yards). The 26-yarder clinched the game for the Hawkeyes. Kaeding also booted a pair of PATs.

Sarah Mitchell covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]