Big Ten: Jack Mollenkopf
Please read: I've included more than one team in the following breakdowns because it provides a better picture of progress or failure. And yes, I know some of you don't consider all these teams rivals. There are some one-sided rivalries listed because they're relevant to some fan bases more than others. Lastly, I'm only going by Big Ten rivalries.
RON ZOOK, ILLINOIS (fifth season)
vs. Iowa: 1-3
vs. Michigan: 2-1
vs. Northwestern: 1-4
vs. Ohio State: 1-4
Comment: Zook's back-to-back wins please the Illini faithful who despise Michigan, and he handed Iowa a loss last year in Champaign. His greatest win came at No. 1 Ohio State in 2007, but his failure to beat Northwestern stands out.
BILL LYNCH, INDIANA (third season)
vs. Purdue: 1-1
vs. Illinois: 1-2
Comment: The dramatic and emotional win against Purdue in 2006 put Indiana into a bowl game for the first time since 1993. But last year's blowout loss in West Lafayette left a very sour taste for Lynch.
KIRK FERENTZ, IOWA (11th season)
vs. Minnesota: 7-3
vs. Wisconsin: 6-5
vs. Illinois: 5-3
Comment: A very solid performance overall for Ferentz, who has won back-to-back games against Wisconsin. Ferentz also led Iowa to a 55-0 triumph against Minnesota in the final college game at the Metrodome.
RICH RODRIGUEZ, MICHIGAN (second season)
vs. Ohio State: 0-1
vs. Michigan State: 0-2
vs. Penn State: 0-2
vs. Minnesota: 1-0
Comment: Rodriguez's struggles in Ann Arbor obviously go beyond the rivalry games, but he'll need better results against these teams to retain his job after the 2010 season. Michigan had dominated both Michigan State and Penn State until last year, while Ohio State is poised to extend its win streak against the Wolverines.
MARK DANTONIO, MICHIGAN STATE (third season)
vs. Michigan: 2-1
vs. Penn State: 1-1
Comment: I know, I know, the Penn State game isn't a rivalry, but I needed a second Big Ten barometer for Dantonio. The 2-1 start against Michigan is huge for Dantonio, whose "pride comes before the fall" quote still gets recited. He can also enhance his November record with another win against No. 14 Penn State on Saturday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).
TIM BREWSTER, MINNESOTA (third season)
vs. Iowa: 0-2
vs. Wisconsin: 0-3
vs. Michigan: 0-2
Comment: This is a major problem for Brewster, who needs to start winning rivalry games to keep his job. Minnesota flopped against Michigan in 2008 and had good chances to beat Wisconsin in each of the last two years, but fell short both times. Last year's 55-0 loss to Iowa still stings, so Minnesota needs a better showing on Saturday (ESPN, noon ET).
PAT FITZGERALD, NORTHWESTERN (fourth season)
vs. Illinois: 3-1
vs. Iowa: 3-1
vs. Wisconsin: 0-1
Comment: Northwestern doesn't have many true rivals because of its miserable pre-1995 history, but Fitzgerald has fared very well in games that his fans care about. The three road victories against Iowa have stood out, and while Illinois isn't a huge rivalry, it means a ton to Fitzgerald. The Wisconsin series has been broken up twice this decade but resumes Saturday (Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET).
JIM TRESSEL, OHIO STATE (ninth season)
vs. Michigan: 7-1
vs. Penn State: 6-3
vs. Illinois: 5-2
Comment: Tressel's utter domination of Michigan defines his legacy at Ohio State, and he boasts impressive marks against both Penn State and Illinois. The Vest gets criticized for losing BCS bowls, but he owns the Big Ten this decade.
JOE PATERNO, PENN STATE (44th season, 17th in Big Ten)
vs. Ohio State: 8-13 all-time, 6-11 after joining Big Ten
vs. Michigan: 5-10 all-time and after joining Big Ten
vs. Michigan State: 12-5 all-time, 12-4 after joining Big Ten
Comment: The record against Michigan State is impressive, but for Penn State to truly establish itself as a Big Ten power, it must beat Ohio State more regularly. Paterno has notched back-to-back wins against Michigan and ended the losing streak at the Big House on Oct. 24.
DANNY HOPE, PURDUE (first season)
vs. Indiana: n/a
vs. Michigan: 1-0
Comment: Hope gets his first taste of the Old Oaken Bucket game as Purdue's head coach on Saturday at Indiana (Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET). The Michigan rivalry might be brewing after Hope's post-game exchange with Rodriguez on Nov. 7. Hope became the first Boilers coach to win in Ann Arbor since Jack Mollenkopf in 1966.
BRET BIELEMA, WISCONSIN (fourth season)
vs. Minnesota: 4-0
vs. Iowa: 2-2
Comment: Bielema has kept Paul Bunyan's Axe in Madison throughout his tenure as Badgers coach. He has, however, lost consecutive games to his alma mater, Iowa, and needs to end the streak next year at Kinnick Stadium.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Rule No. 1: candidates to be chiseled onto Purdue's Mount Rushmore must have a mustache. OK, I'm kidding. But the 'stache has become a Boilermakers' trademark in recent years, sported by former head coach Joe Tiller and current coach Danny Hope.
Purdue enjoyed several successful periods in the 1930s, late 1960s and late 1970s before Tiller ended a long stretch of mediocrity when he arrived in 1996. Here's the fab four for the Boilers.
- Leroy Keyes -- Considered the greatest player in team history, Keyes was a two-time consensus All-American and a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1968. The College Football Hall of Fame running back and defensive back helped Purdue to a 25-6 record and rushed for 3,365 yards in his career.
- Joe Tiller -- The man pioneered the spread offense in the Big Ten and saw tremendous early success with his "Basketball on Grass" system. Tiller led Purdue to a league title and 10 bowl games and finished his career as the school's all-time winningest coach.
- Jack Mollenkopf -- As Purdue's head coach from 1956-69, Mollenkopf led Purdue to its first Rose Bowl appearance (1967) and a 10-4 mark against Notre Dame. He coached players like Keyes and Bob Griese and held the school record for wins until Tiller broke it last season. A College Football Hall of Famer, Mollenkopf went 84-39-9 as Purdue's head coach.
- Bob Griese -- A Hall of Famer at both the college and pro levels, Griese was a two-time All-America selection as Purdue's quarterback. He led the Boilers to the 1966 Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory against USC and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Sorry for the late start today. Had to make a quick trip to downtown Chicago and got caught in some morning traffic. The good news is, I got to hear Ohio State coach Jim Tressel on Mike & Mike in the Morning. He reiterated that running back Chris "Beanie" Wells is doubtful for Saturday night's game against top-ranked USC (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). He added that the decision likely will be to play Wells sparingly or not at all. So it's unlikely Wells will play a major role in the game, even if he gets off the sidelines.
Let's start the links with the game everyone's talking about:
- Former Ohio State running back Eddie George knows how much Wells wants to play Saturday, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch. Buckeyes star James Laurinaitis will be on the field for a linebacker showcase, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. USC expects to see Wells on Saturday, Adam Maya writes in The Orange County Register. The numbers don't look promising for Ohio State in a must-win game, the Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine writes in his blog.
- Louisiana-Lafayette's athleticism concerns Illinois coach Ron Zook, Terry Bannon writes in the Chicago Tribune. Juice Williams is pulling for the Big Ten in the Ohio State-USC game, while teammate Rejus Benn sides with the Trojans, Bob Asmussen writes in The News-Gazette.
- Indiana's defense needs to keep the momentum going for next week's clash with Nate Davis and Ball State, LaMond Pope writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Ricky Stanzi's poise under pressure and Iowa's line play will be put to the test against Iowa State, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa State appears to have the edge on Iowa in facilities, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Despite inconsistent results as Michigan's starting quarterback, Steven Threet is staying relaxed, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. Michigan's John Ferrara and Notre Dame's Eric Olsen have a close connection to the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, Michael Rothstein writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Michigan State cornerback-turned-safety Kendell Davis-Clark will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, the Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode writes in his blog. The Spartans plan to run a lot against Florida Atlantic's vulnerable defense, Steve Grinczel writes.
- Takeaways have sparked Minnesota's transitioning defense early on, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
- Northwestern linebacker Malcolm Arrington can thank his father for steering him toward defense, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Anthony Scirrotto is no longer part of the off-field problems at Penn State, and the senior safety spoke up in a big way last week, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane takes a look at the relationship between Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier.
- Joe Tiller grew up in a neighborhood that hated Purdue because of the success coach Jack Mollenkopf had. Here's a in-depth look at the man Tiller is trying to pass on Purdue's all-time coaching wins list, courtesy of Jeff Rabjohns in The Indianapolis Star.
- Wisconsin's defenders better not loaf around coordinator Dave Doeren, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times. Badgers star tight end Travis Beckum and linebacker Jonathan Casillas are expected to start against Fresno State, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.