Some notes and nuggets to hopefully make you smarter as you watch your favorite Big Ten team in action Saturday afternoon. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for several of these.
Penn State and Ohio State have met 22 times since 1975. At least one team was ranked in 20 of the 22 meetings, with the higher-ranked team prevailing in all 14 games prior to 2005, when No. 16 Penn State beat No. 6 Ohio State 17-10. Prior to 2005, the last time the lower-ranked team had won was in 1964, when the unranked Nittany Lions stunned the No. 2 Buckeyes 27-0 in Columbus.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson and Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez have nearly identical numbers on designed runs this season, but Martinez seems to have slowed down a bit in recent weeks. Martinez is averaging only 4.3 yards per carry on designed runs in his past four games and hasn't had a 20-yard rush on such attempts since Week 3 against Washington. Both men have nine touchdowns on designed runs and five carries of 30 yards or longer. Robinson averages 6.4 yards on designed runs, while Martinez averages 6.3 yards.
Michigan State has finished the regular season strong under coach Mark Dantonio. Since Dantonio took over in 2007, Michigan State is 11-3 in the month of November, including five consecutive victories. The Spartans were 5-19 in November from 2000-06.
Purdue has seen 17 different players rush with the ball this season and not a single runner has lost a fumble on 388 carries. Two of the Boilers' three lost fumbles this season have come after receptions; the other was on a punt return.
Indiana's underclassmen have accounted for: all of the team’s 15 rushing scores; all of the team’s 179 completions, 2,104 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns; 3,731 of the team’s 3,735 total yards (99.9 percent); 1,627 of the team’s 1,631 rushing yards (99.8 percent); 419 of the team’s 421 rushing attempts (99.5 percent); 993 of the team’s 999 kick-return yards (99.4 percent); 223 or the team’s 229 points (97.4 percent); nine of the team’s 10 receiving touchdowns (90.0 percent); 4,291 of the team's 4,831 all-purpose yards (88.8 percent); 1,610 of the team's 2,104 receiving yards (76.5 percent); 132 of the team's 179 receptions (73.7 percent).
Under offensive coordinator Mick McCall, Northwestern has found a way to move the chains efficiently on third down. The Wildcats have been successful on exactly 50 percent of their third-down attempts (69 of 138), the ninth-best average among FBS teams. Northwestern has finished in the top 20 nationally in that category each of the past two years.
Ohio State players have intercepted a pass against Penn State and returned it for a touchdown seven times since 2002. The Buckeyes won all five games where they recorded a pick-six. They recorded two pick-sixes against Penn State last season, as both Devon Torrence and Travis Howard had scoring returns.
Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson has thrown 101 touchdown passes in his career. That trails only Houston's Case Keenum (144) and Boise State's Kellen Moore (130) for the most among active FBS players. Wilson leads all current major-conference players. He became just the 13th quarterback in FBS history, and just the fifth from a BCS conference, to pass for 100 TDs.
Nebraska’s defense has been stingy lately, especially in the first half. In the Cornhuskers' past four games, they have allowed a total of 10 points in the first half (Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State).
Duane Bennett’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Saturday's loss to Wisconsin was the second kickoff return for a score this season by Minnesota; Marcus Jones returned a kickoff 92 yards at Purdue earlier this season. It is the first time Minnesota has had two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same season since 1997.
Iowa's 37-21 loss to Michigan State last Saturday marked the first Iowa loss by more than 10 points in 53 games, dating back to a 31-6 loss at Purdue on Oct. 20, 2007. Iowa did not lose a game by more than a touchdown in 43 consecutive games, between a 28-19 loss to Western Michigan on Nov. 17, 2007, to the 13-3 loss at Penn State on Oct. 8 this season.