For his efforts in leading a perennially weak football program to the brink of bowl eligibility Saturday, Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis picked up his second Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award on Monday.
It is the second award in the last three weeks for the redshirt freshman, who began the season as the team’s No. 3 quarterback.
Lewis finished with 336 all-purpose yards, while playing a role in six touchdowns, five passing and one rushing, during his team’s 46-21 thrashing of Michigan State over the weekend. The five passing touchdowns in a Big Ten contest were the most in school history.
The Hoosiers now sit at 5-4, needing just one victory in their three remaining contests to become bowl eligible.
Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner said Lewis’ success has not been a surprise to those in the program.
“He’s always had a lot of talent. We’ve seen flashes of it in practices and scrimmages,” he said. “But he’s starting to really have enough confidence and knowledge of the offense to use that talent on game day.”
Minnesota coach Glen Mason, whose team will face Lewis this weekend, said he has been impressed with the quarterback’s performance.
“He spreads you out and can put the ball on the money,” he said. “At the same time, he gives you problems that a mobile quarterback gives you.”
Bowl-bound Penn State was led by junior linebacker Dan Connor Saturday. He finished with a game-high 12 tackles and an interception during his team’s 12-0 victory over Purdue. It’s the first time since 1996 the Boilermakers have been shut out.
Connor has carried on the tradition of tough Penn State linebacker corps this season and coach Joe Paterno said it has perhaps been one of his bests.
“It’s certainly a good one. I don’t like to make comparisons because what you give to one, you take away from another,” he said. “But it’s certainly up there. They’re just three really good football players.”
It’s Connor’s second Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award of the season.
Junior kicker Taylor Mehlhaff of Wisconsin helped his team escape an upset with a narrow 30-24 victory over Illinois Saturday.
Mehlhaff connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including kicks of 33, 21 and 21 yards. It is the second such award of his career.
OSU, Michigan dominant
For the first time in over 30 years, the Big Ten features two 9-0 teams in No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan.
The feat was last accomplished in 1973, when the Buckeyes (9-0) battled the Wolverines (10-0) in the regular season finale, which ended in a 10-10 tie.
The pair’s fast starts has them sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in both the BCS and Associated Press polls. The teams also represent two of the six remaining undefeated teams in the nation.
Ohio State, which crushed Minnesota 44-0 on Saturday, has now won 16-straight contests, including 11 straight in the conference. Michigan holds the conference record of 29-straight victories from 1901-1903.
Five teams bowl eligible
With both Iowa and Penn State picking up their sixth victories of the season, the Big Ten conference now features five bowl-eligible teams.
Iowa and Penn State join Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Other teams that can still qualify include Indiana (5-4), Purdue (5-4), Michigan State (4-5) and Minnesota (3-6).
Century club coaches
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr moved into a tie with former Ohio State coach John Cooper for career victories at a Big Ten school with his 111th over Northwestern Saturday.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno picked up his 113th victory with his team’s win over Purdue. He remains ninth in career victories at a Big Ten school.