Big Ten East Notebook: How many division teams could still go bowling?
With eight weeks of football in the books, the Big Ten already has six teams that are bowl-eligible.
Three of those squads reside in the East division, where only Maryland is close to being eliminated from contention for postseason play.
The 2-5 Terrapins have their work cut out for them if they want to go to a bowl for a third consecutive season, but what about the rest of the teams in the division?
Ohio State and Michigan State (both 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten) and Penn State (6-2, 3-1) are already bowl-eligible.
Michigan, which unlike the Buckeyes, Spartans and Nittany Lions has had a week off already, is one win away at 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
That leaves Rutgers and Indiana, winners of three and four games respectively so far.
Despite getting blown out last weekend at home by Ohio State, the Scarlet Knights (3-4, 1-3) could be in good shape to make a bowl.
Why is that? Because after playing Wisconsin (6-2) and Michigan in the next two weeks, Rutgers will have three games left against three teams that all currently have losing records: Nebraska, Army (2-5) and the aforementioned Terrapins.
What about Indiana? The Hoosiers, who had high hopes for a big season after starting 4-0 but have lost four in a row, are off this week before taking on undefeated Iowa and Michigan in consecutive weeks in Bloomington.
Then coach Kevin Wilson’s squad finishes with games at Maryland and Purdue, two teams who have combined for one less win than the Hoosiers have at this point.
As for Maryland, the Terrapins only face one team the rest of the way that has a losing record at this time: Rutgers. Their other four opponents (Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Indiana) are a combined 25-6.
The Big Ten has contracts with 10 different bowls for its teams.
Ohio State, Michigan represented on Thorpe Award semifinalist list
The group of 16 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award (given to the nation’s best defensive back) includes two players from the division: Ohio State safety Vonn Bell and Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
Lewis leads the Big Ten in pass breakups with 16 while Bell is tied for seventh with nine. Lewis has two interceptions; Bell has one.
The schools currently have three Thorpe Awards combined.
Charles Woodson won the trophy for Michigan in 1997 while Ohio State’s Antoine Winfield won it a year later. The Buckeyes’ second winner of the award was Malcolm Jenkins in 2008.
‘Lotts’ of ‘class’?
The Big Ten East is the home of nearly 1/4 of the 21 quarterfinalists for the 2015 Lott Impact Trophy.
With defensive linemen Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel, Penn State is the only school in the country with two players up for the award that annually goes to a player who stands out on and off the field in a variety of areas.
Also representing the Big Ten East on the list released this week are Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun and Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry.
Welcome back, Barrett
J.T. Barrett has as many Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors as he does starts at quarterback for Ohio State this season.
The sophomore threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns while running for 101 yards and two touchdowns, earning the fourth offensive player of the week award of his career.
He shared this one with Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who threw for a career-high 398 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans beat Indiana. Cook’s 30 completions and 52 pass attempts were also the most of his MSU tenure.
With 18 rushing yards, he set a school record with 416 total yards.
Cook had not previously earned a weekly award from the Big Ten.
Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw three touchdowns Saturday at Michigan State, giving him 48 for his career. That ties Kellen Lewis’ school record.