Big Ten coaches in Big Ten rivalries

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
10:30
AM ET
It's rivalry week around most of the Big Ten, as arch enemies meet in Ann Arbor, Bloomington and Iowa City. The head coaches in the league are judged, at least in part, on how they fare against the 2-4 teams their fans truly love to hate within the league.

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.

Let's begin.

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.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
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Wednesday, 12/24
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