News and nuggets to spice up your tailgate party this weekend (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information and sports information staffs around the league for these):
Illinois did not let Charleston Southern convert a third down in 13 attempts last week. This season, the Illini defense is holding opponents to a 24.3 percent conversion rate (9-for-37) on third downs, which is tops in the Big Ten and 10th-best in the nation. Illinois also is one of only 15 teams in the nation that has not allowed a fourth-down conversion (0-1).
Iowa kicker Mike Meyer has made 59 straight extra points, one shy of the school record set by Nate Kaeding. Meyer's last miss came against Michigan State in October 2010. Meyer is also 8-of-9 on field goals this season, and is tied for first in the country in field goals made per game.
Despite a slow start against Alabama, Michigan's Denard Robinson is on pace to gain more than 1,000 yards on designed running plays for a third consecutive season. Robinson is averaging a career-high 9.3 yards per rush on these plays in three games this season. Robinson has averaged 180.5 yards per game on designed running plays against Notre Dame in the past two seasons.
Michigan State tight end Dion Sims has 16 catches for 165 yards, which are already career highs for both totals. His 16 receptions are tied for fourth among tight ends in the FBS. Thirteen of his 16 catches (81 percent) have gone for either a touchdown or a first down.
The Gophers (3-0) are looking to close out their non-conference schedule with a perfect 4-0 record. The last time Minnesota did that was during the 2008 season, when it began the year with wins against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic. Minnesota has already secured a winning nonconference record, which is something it had not done since 2009 when it was 3-1 outside of Big Ten play. This is the 48th time in school history Minnesota has started the season with a 3-0 record, but it is just the 16th time since 1950.
Nebraska has averaged 7.9 yards on first down this season. The Huskers have run 105 first-down plays and totaled 826 yards, producing 52 percent of their total yards for the season on first down. Nebraska had 359 yards on 38 first-down snaps in the season opener against Southern Miss, averaging 9.4 yards on first down. Against UCLA, the Huskers gained 194 yards on 33 first-down snaps, an average of 5.9 yards per play, and in a 42-13 win against Arkansas State the Huskers rolled up 273 yards on 34 first-down attempts, for an average of 8.0 yards per play.
With Saturday's 22-13 victory against Boston College, Northwestern’s streak of consecutive home victories against nonconference foes reached 12, tied for the 14th longest active streak among FBS programs. The Wildcats have not lost to a team from outside the Big Ten at Ryan Field since falling to Duke on Sept. 15, 2007.
Ohio State has scored 56, 31 and 35 points, respectively, in its first three games. It is the 10th time in school history Ohio State has scored 30 or more in its first three games. It has happened twice in the past 15 years (1998 and 2010), and five times in the past 50 years. The 2012 Buckeyes are the fourth team coached by Urban Meyer to open with three consecutive 30-point games: 2002 Bowling Green, and the 2007 and 2010 Florida teams.
Penn State has made a dramatic turnaround in turnovers since losing three and not gaining any in the season opener against Ohio. The past two weeks, the Nittany Lions have forced four turnovers against both Virginia and Navy and have not turned the ball over. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten with a +1.67 turnover margin, having gained eight and lost three in three games. Penn State and Purdue are tied for the conference lead with eight forced turnovers.
After allowing 19 points per game last season, Wisconsin’s defense is giving up just 15 points per game in 2012. In three games, Badgers opponents have combined for just four trips to the red zone. The Wisconsin defense is also allowing just 82 rushing yards per game, which ranks 17th in the FBS.