- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The games are almost here. But first, it's time to play a little game we like to call Did You Know? (Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information and league sports information directors for the nuggets).
Michigan State tight end Dion Sims leads all FBS tight ends in first-down receptions (17) and ranks second in receiving yards (277) this season. Sims is tied with Arizona State’s Chris Coyle for the most catches of any tight end in the FBS. Eighteen of Sims’ 22 receptions this season (82 percent) have gone for either a first down or a touchdown.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has rushed for 401 yards on designed running plays this season. Miller had 576 yards on such plays in 12 games last season. The only game in his career in which he did not gain positive yards on designed running plays was in the loss to Michigan State last season
Nebraska is 10-0 when quarterback Taylor Martinez completes at least half of his passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield. He was 3-for-11 on such passes in the loss at Wisconsin last season.
Wisconsin has 17 "three-and-outs" this season, which is tied for the second most in FBS. The Badgers have had at least three three-and-outs in all four games this season. They only had two such games all of last season. The Badgers have averaged fewer than four yards per play in two games this season. Prior to this season, the last time they averaged less than four yards per play in a game was in a loss to Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009.
Indiana is playing fast under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. The Hoosiers have six touchdown drives covering at least 70 yards in less than 1:30 and in six-or-fewer plays. IU also has a one-play, 50-yard touchdown run that took 10 seconds. Indiana is running one play every 21.4 seconds.
Venric Mark (123 rushing yards vs. Vanderbilt, 117 vs. South Dakota) and Mike Trumpy (106 vs. Boston College) have teamed up to give Northwestern a 100-yard rusher in three consecutive outings, a first for the Wildcats since it happened in the final game of the 2006 season and first two contests of 2007. Mark’s three rushing scores vs. South Dakota were the most by a Wildcat since Kain Colter against Eastern Illinois in 2011, while the five ground TDs were the most since Sept. 5, 2009 vs. Towson.
Illinois has controlled time of possession in all four games this season, owning a margin of more than eight minutes per game over its opponents. The Illini are ranked ninth nationally and second in the Big Ten in time of possession (34:17).
Penn State has had a different rushing leader in all four games, with injuries leading to five different running backs carrying the ball. Sophomore Bill Belton led the Nittany Lions with 53 yards on 13 carries in the opener vs. Ohio before spraining his ankle. Senior Derek Day earned his first career start at Virginia and gained 47 yards on 18 attempts before injuring his shoulder. Senior Michael Zordich gained a team-high 50 yards on 11 carries in the win over Navy but hurt his leg against Temple. In the Temple game, sophomore Zach Zwinak set career-highs with 18 carries for 94 yards.
Three of Iowa's first four games have been decided by three points or less. It's the first time that has ever happened in the first four games for the Hawkeyes. Don't expect that to change this week. The last two Iowa-Minnesota games have been decided by a total of four points. The Gophers won 22-21 last season and 27-24 in 2010. This is the first time the two rivals have ever met in September.
Twice this year, Minnesota has allowed only one touchdown (beat New Hampshire 44-7 and Syracuse 17-10). The last time the Gophers had at least two games during the same year where they allowed only one touchdown or less was 2009 (Air Force, South Dakota State, Iowa). This is the first year since 2006 that Minnesota has held two of its first four opponents to 10 points or fewer.
Purdue is a perfect 13-for-13 in the red zone (12 touchdowns, one field goal), is converting third downs on 60 percent of its tries and is 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions. The Boilermakers are one of 11 FBS teams who are perfect inside the red zone. They rank fourth nationally on third downs and are one of only 10 teams to remain perfect on fourth down.