Big Ten: did you know

Big Ten Week 14: Did you know?

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
10:00
AM ET
You already know who's going to land in the Big Ten title game -- but I bet you don't know most of these crazy Big Ten facts and figures:
  • It should be a good battle in the trenches for The Game. No, seriously -- the Ohio State rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense should be a good matchup. The Wolverines have allowed just five rushes that have gained 20 or more yards this season, tied for the fifth fewest allowed among FBS teams. Ohio State's offense has had 32 such rushes -- which is tied for fifth most in the FBS.
  • Braxton Miller might be better in the pocket this season, but that doesn't mean he can't run anymore. In his first seven games this year, he attempted 25 zone-read rushes and gained 87 yards from them. In the last two contests, Miller has shown he can still get it done by rushing 15 times on such plays for 216 yards.
  • Wondering just how much Devin Gardner's performance has dropped off since last season? Well, besides the obvious stats, take a look at his performance on third downs. Last season, he had a QBR of 98.3 on third downs, which ranked second behind only Johnny Manizel among players with at least 50 third down plays. This season? His QBR has fallen to 49.8 on third downs this year and Gardner has taken 15 sacks and committed seven turnovers. He's thrown nine TDs to seven interceptions on third downs this season, compared to 11 touchdowns and two picks last year.
  • Minnesota's run-heavy offense could be in trouble against Michigan State. The Gophers have run on 68 percent of their plays this season -- the seventh-highest ratio in the FBS -- and Michigan State has not been kind to those run-first teams. The Spartans have allowed just 15 rushes of 10 or more yards this season, six fewer than the No. 2 team in that category. Also, Michigan State has not allowed a drive of 80 yards or longer this season. The last team to do that? Alabama in 2008.
  • Michigan State's Jeremy Langford has rushed for at least 100 yards in six straight games -- and those yards have been well-earned. During that span, he has the third-most yards after contact (453) of any BCS player. He's behind only Boston College's Andre Williams (608) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (512).
  • The ability of Wisconsin to run the ball has been well-documented this season, so let's look at the affect those runs have had on the passing game. On play-action passes, Joel Stave is averaging 12.1 yards per attempt. Without play-action, he's averaging 6.5 yards through the air. Also, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is pretty noticeable. With the play-action, he has nine touchdown strikes and two interceptions. Without? Eight TDs, seven interceptions.
  • In the Penn State passing attack, there's basically Allen Robinson and ... well ... OK, that's pretty much it. Just look at the numbers. When Christian Hackenberg throws Robinson's way, he's completing 63.6 percent of his passes, averages 9.2 yards per attempt and has thrown five TDs to one pick. When he targets anyone not named Robinson, he's completing 50.4 percent of his passes, averages 5.1 yards per attempt and has thrown four touchdowns to four picks.
  • The Hawkeyes' defense might not get as much love because of the Spartans, but their run defense is pretty darn good. Iowa has held 10 of its 11 opponents under their rushing average this season. Iowa has allowed just four rushing touchdowns this year -- tied for lowest total in the nation -- and it's allowing an average of just 3.6 yards per rush.
  • Ameer Abdullah didn't get much love from voters for the Doak Walker Award, but he's still having quite the season. Here are a few Nebraska numbers to chew on: His rushing total right now (1,483 yards) is the most by a Husker since Ahman Green's 1,877 in 1997. He's rushed for 100 yards in eight straight games, which ties him for the fourth-longest streak in Nebraska history. And he also has 10 100-yard games this season, which is also good for fourth on the Cornhuskers' record lists. He needs just one more game to tie the record of 11 held by Mike Rozier (1983), Lawrence Phillips (1994) and Green (1997).
  • November has been a pretty good month for Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase. He's gone 128-for-189 (67.7 percent) for 1,316 yards -- which is the second-most passing yards this month behind only Fresno State's Derek Carr (1,374). He's also the only active player in the nation with more than 8,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards ... but, of course, that's for his career -- not just November.

Did you know? Big Ten Week 10

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
10:00
AM ET
Here are some trivia tidbits guaranteed to make you the smartest person in your stadium section on Saturday (thanks to Big Ten sports information offices and ESPN Stats & Info for the nuggets):
  • Michigan State has forced 38 “three-and-out” drives this season, tied with Wisconsin for the Big Ten lead. It’s the second most forced against FBS opponents.
  • Nebraska leads the Big Ten and is tied for seventh most in FBS with 51 plays that gained 20 yards or more. The Cornhuskers are one of three FBS teams with at least 20 pass and rush 20-plus yards plays (Texas A&M and Ohio State).
  • With one more passing touchdown, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson will become the first player in Big Ten history to post 50 career passing touchdowns and 40 career rushing touchdowns. Robinson hasn't thrown a second-half interception this season.
  • Minnesota is looking for its first home win over Michigan since 1977 and has a 14-game home losing streak at home to the Wolverines. The Gophers are seeking their second straight Big Ten win for the first time since they beat Illinois and Iowa to end the 2010 season.
  • Saturday's game between Iowa and Indiana features two teams with good hands. The Hoosiers are the only team in the FBS who have not lost a fumble this season, while the Hawkeyes have only lost two, ranking third in the country behind IU and Clemson (1). Iowa's defense has collected at least one takeaway in seven of its eight games this season, and six of the Hawkeyes' 15 turnovers gained have come in the opponents' red zone.
  • Indiana has scored at least 24 points in every game this season and nine straight overall dating back to last year, which is a school record. The Hoosiers have already scored more points this year (274) than they did all of last season (257). Running back Stephen Houston has scored in every game this season and in nine straight games overall, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
  • Since 1988, Illinois has beaten Ohio State seven times out of 11 games in Columbus. The Illini's nine overall victories against the Buckeyes in that time span is second only to Michigan's 12.
  • Braxton Miller (1,093) is the first Ohio State quarterback and just the third Big Ten quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (Michigan's Robinson and Indiana's Antwaan Randle El are the others). Miller needs one more rushing touchdown to tie for the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season (13). Miller needs just one more touchdown to move into sixth place in school history for career touchdowns responsible for, and he's only a sophomore.
  • Speaking of sophomores, Penn State's Allen Robinson has already broken the school record for most catches by a sophomore. With 52 receptions, Robinson needs just 12 more grabs to become the school's single-season receptions leader, eclipsing O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Bobby Engram (1995)
  • In each of the last three games, Purdue has scored a touchdown on its opening drive. And in each of those three games, all losses, the Boilermakers have not produced another offensive touchdown until the second half.

Did you know? Week 8 in the Big Ten

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
10:00
AM ET
You may be a grill master at your tailgate party, but are you a trivia master? Check out these facts, and maybe you will be. (Thanks to Big Ten sports information departments and ESPN Stats & Information for the nuggets).
  • Indiana's 49 points scored versus Ohio State last week were the most the Hoosiers produced in a Big Ten game since a 56-21 win over Northwestern in 2001. It was the sixth-most points ever scored by Indiana in a Big Ten contest, and the most it had ever scored versus a top 10 opponent. The Hoosiers have scored at least 24 points in all six games this season, marking the longest streak of reaching that total since 1988.
  • Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens has posted double-digit tackle games in each of the past five contests, including 15 stops versus Michigan State. Hitchens leads the FBS at 13 tackles per game, while teammate James Morris is 18th.
  • Michigan's Denard Robinson has 4,033 yards rushing in his career, most by a quarterback in Big Ten history. He needs 79 more to pass Nevada's Collin Kaepernick for third place on the NCAA all-time list for rushing yards by a quarterback. Robinson is 447 yards shy of all-time leader Pat White of West Virginia and will pass White in the regular season if he averages 75 rushing yards per game in his final six contests.
  • You know Michigan State has won four straight against Michigan. Did you know that the Spartans have only won four straight in this series three other times (1934-37, 1950-53 and 1959-62 are the others) and have never won five straight versus the Wolverines? Michigan State is also seeking its third straight win in Ann Arbor, something it hasn't done since 1956-61.
  • Minnesota has used 76 players through six games this season. Of those 76, 32 of them (42.1 percent) had never played a game for the Gophers before this year. Minnesota has used 10 true freshmen, 10 redshirt freshmen and 12 other players who have made their Gophers debut in 2012.
  • Wisconsin's Montee Ball broke the Big Ten record for career touchdowns last week at Purdue with his 72nd score. He is currently third in league history in career rushing touchdowns with 66. He needs six more to break Ron Dayne's mark of 71. Ball is seven touchdowns shy of breaking the NCAA mark held by Miami (Ohio)'s Travis Prentice.
  • Northwestern's Kain Colter finished 10-of-10 passing last week against Minnesota, becoming just the eighth FBS quarterback since 2000 to have a perfect completion percentage with at least 10 attempts. Oklahoma State's Wes Lunt is the only other player to do it in 2012, completing 11-of-11 against Savannah State in Week 1.
  • Nebraska is visiting Northwestern for the first time since 1931. The 81-year span between trips is the longest gap between trips to any Big Ten destination for the Cornhuskers. The team hasn't played in Illinois since beating the Illini 59-14 in 1986.
  • Iowa's defense had better be ready from the start on Saturday. Penn State has outscored its opponents 52-0 in the first quarter this season and 86-23 in the first half. The Nittany Lions have scored in the first quarter of every game this season. Northwestern is the only team to have scored a touchdown on the Lions in the first half this season.
  • Purdue's Kawann Short was credited with a block of Wisconsin kicker Kyle French's field goal attempt in the first half last week. That was the sixth career blocked kick by Short, which established a new Boilermakers school record. Short is also tied for third nationally for career tackles for loss, with 42.5.
  • Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has five 25-plus yard rushing touchdowns this season, tied for the most in the FBS. That's not good news for Purdue, which has given up nine runs that gained 25 yards or more this season, tied for eighth-most in the country.

Did you know? Big Ten Week 5

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
10:00
AM ET
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.

Did you know? Big Ten Week 4

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
10:00
AM ET
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.

Did you know? Big Ten Week 2

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
10:00
AM ET
Some notes and nuggets to make you the smartest person at your game-watching party on Saturday (thanks to ESPN Stats & Info for the first two):
  • Ohio State's Braxton Miller set the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 161 against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, and 149 of those yards came on designed running plays. It was the second time in Miller’s short career that he gained more than 100 yards on designed rushes and the first time since he gained 138 yards against Indiana last season. Miller averaged 13.5 yards per carry on 11 designed running plays in Week 1. Of those 11, six came on zone read plays, which accounted for 91 of his yards. Miller ran only six zone read plays all of last season.
  • Michigan's Denard Robinson had 10 rushes for 27 yards in the opening week loss against Alabama. Robinson’s longest run of the night was nine yards. It was the first time in his last 26 games that Robinson did not have at least two rushes that gained 10 yards or more. He entered Saturday with 102 10-plus yard rushes since the start of the 2010 season, the most in the FBS.
  • Wisconson is looking to improve to 2-0 against Oregon State. If so, it would be the 11th consecutive season that the Badgers have started 2-0. USC is the only other team in the FBS to start every season since 2002 with a 2-0 record, though some of the Trojans’ wins have been vacated.
  • Nebraska had 632 yards of total offense against Southern Miss in Week 1, its highest mark under Bo Pelini. It was the most yards by a Huskers offense since the team had 710 against Kansas State in 2007. Seven different offensive players scored a touchdown, the most since seven Huskers scored in a 56-7 win over Nicholls State on Sept. 9, 2006.
  • Michigan State is 10-1 in games decided by 10 points or less in the last two seasons. The only loss came in the Big Ten championship game, which Wisconsin won 42-39. The Spartans' current 15-game winning streak at home is the fifth-longest in school history and the longest home streak since a string of 19 straight from 1950-53.
  • Indiana recorded five sacks and seven tackles for loss in its opener against Indiana State. The Hoosiers had just 18 sacks and 60 TFLs all of last season. IU also did not allow a sack in a game for the first time under Kevin Wilson.
  • Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray accounted for 337 total yards (269 passing, 68 rushing) in the opening win against UNLV. That's the most yards for a Minnesota quarterback in the first game of the season since Tim Schade had 536 total yards (58 rushing, 478 passing) in a 38-20 season-opening loss at No. 17 Penn State in 1993. Gray’s 269 passing yards were the most by a Gophers quarterback in Week 1 since Bryan Cupito threw for 279 in a 63-21 win over Toledo in 2004.
  • Northwestern's home game against Vanderbilt is the start of four straight games for the Wildcats in Evanston. The program has not played four consecutive home games in the same season since 1934.
  • Illinois leads the nation in rush defense after one week thanks to holding Western Michigan to minus-six yards rushing in the opener. That was the first time the Illini had held an opponent to negative yards rushing since the 1998 home opener against Middle Tennessee State (minus-nine). Going back to the Kraft Hunger Bowl win over UCLA, the Illini defense has allowed just 12 total rushing yards in its past two games. The seven points allowed against Western Michigan were also the fewest scored against the Illini by an FBS opponent since UCLA pulled out a 6-3 victory on Sept. 13, 2003.
  • Iowa will be wearing throwback uniforms honoring the 1921 and '22 teams when it plays Iowa State on Saturday. Both the '21 and '22 teams went undefeated. This is the Hawkeyes' third time wearing throwbacks. In 2010, wearing uniforms modeled on the 1958 squad, they defeated Ball State 45-0. In 2004, wearing uniforms honoring the 1939 team, they beat Kent State 39-7.
  • Purdue’s Kawann Short blocked a field goal an extra point against Eastern Kentucky to bring his career total to six blocked kicks (four field goals, two extra points). He needs just one more block to tie the school record, which is currently shared by Rosevelt Colvin and Bobby Iwuchukwu.
  • Virginia starting quarterback Michael Rocco is the son of Frank Rocco Jr., who played quarterback at Penn State and was a member of the 1982 national championship team. His uncle, Danny Rocco, was a Penn State football letterman in 1979 and 1980 and is now the head football coach at Richmond. Another uncle, David Rocco, had his Penn State career ended by an injury but served as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions’ unbeaten 1994 Big Ten championship. Michael Rocco’s grandfather, Frank Rocco, Sr., was a member of the Penn State administrative and football staffs for 18 years and was director of football operations from 1986-2000.

Did you know? Big Ten Week 1

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:00
AM ET
As our first Saturday full of games approaches, here are a few things to help you sound smarter at your tailgate party (thanks to our friends at ESPN Stats & Information for many of these nuggets):
  • Michigan State forced the most negative plays (125) in the FBS last season. In the Outback Bowl against Georgia, the Spartans forced 19 negative plays, the second-most negative plays in a game by any team last season. Michigan State also ranked sixth nationally in plays of 15 or more yards allowed, with 71.
  • Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has not thrown an interception on a pass that traveled 20 yards or more in the air in 51 career attempts. Denard Robinson, on the other hand, has 12 interceptions on these throws in 107 attempts (11.2 percent). In 2011, McCarron had six touchdowns and no interceptions on such throws, while Robinson had six picks and only four touchdowns on the same type of pass attempts. The Crimson Tide allowed 15 completions that gained 20 yards or more last season, 10 fewer than any other FBS team. On passes that traveled 20 yards or longer in the air, the Tide had the same number of interceptions (7) as their opponents had completions.
  • Wisconsin's Montee Ball was not touched on 19 of his 33 rushing touchdowns last season. He was contacted in the backfield by the defense on only 26 of his 307 (8.5 percent) rushes last season. On 28.0 percent of his runs, first contact was not made until 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.
  • Nebraska's Taylor Martinez completes 40.4 percent of his throws of 15-plus yards for his career against BCS AQ opponents. Nebraska is 7-0 against AQ opponents when Martinez completes at least 50 percent of these passes over the past two seasons, and 1-5 when he completes less than a third of these passes.
  • After averaging 3.8 yards per rush on designed rushes in his first six games, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller averaged 8.2 yards per rush on designed runs in his final eight games. On passes of 10 yards or longer, Miller completed 32.1 percent of his passes from inside the pocket and 64.7 percent from outside the pocket.
  • Penn State is 92-19-2 all time in openers. Though if you follow the NCAA sanctions to a T, then technically the Nittany Lions are seeking their first victory of any kind since 1997.
  • Illinois coach Tim Beckman went 2-1 against Western Michigan while at Toledo. His Rockets beat the Broncos 66-63 in 2011 and 37-24 in 2010, but lost 58-26 in 2009.
  • Iowa plays Northern Illinois at Soldier Field; the Hawkeyes beat the Huskies 16-3 in their only other appearance in the stadium, in 2007. This season marks the fifth time in Iowa history its season opener will be played at a neutral site. The Hawkeyes also played Tennessee and NC State in the 1987 and 1992 Kickoff Classic at East Rutherford, N.J., respectively, and Kansas State in Kansas City in the 2000 Eddie Robinson Classic.
  • Indiana claims to be the youngest team in college football. The Hoosiers played 32 freshmen, half of them true freshmen in 2011. They have only eight seniors on the 2012 roster, which is tied for the fewest in the nation.
  • Northwestern has never lost an opener under Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats are a perfect 7-0 in their first game under Fitzgerald and have won 10 of their past 12 lid-lifters, including a 30-10 victory against this week's opponent, Syracuse, in 2008.
  • Purdue is the only FBS team with four players on its roster that have started at least one game at quarterback. No other FBS team has more than two players who have started at quarterback. The Boilermakers have Robert Marve (15 career starts between Purdue and Miami), Caleb TerBush (13 starts), Rob Henry (seven) and Sean Robinson (1), who's now a linebacker.

Week 11: Did you know?

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
9:00
AM ET
Some news and nuggets to make you look a little smarter at your tailgate party (thanks to ESPN Stats & Info for many of these):
  • For the first time since Dec. 4, 1965, Penn State will play a game with someone other than Joe Paterno as its head coach. Over the past 94 seasons (since 1918), Penn State has had only five different head football coaches (not including an interim coach), by far the fewest among all FBS teams. How does that compare to the other end of the spectrum? There are five schools tied for the most head coaches over that stretch with 24 each (Arkansas State, Idaho, Mississippi State, San Jose State, Wyoming).
  • Nebraska has struggled away from home against top 15 teams. The Cornhuskers last win against an AP top 15 team away from Lincoln came in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl against sixth-ranked Tennessee. The last true road win against an AP top 15 team came in 1997 at second-ranked Washington.
  • Iowa has won seven straight home games against Michigan State. The Spartans haven’t won in Iowa City since 1989. The Spartans have allowed at least 34 points in each of their past four road games against Iowa.
  • The 2011 senior class has helped Michigan State to a combined record of 33-15 (.688). The 33 wins are tied with the Class of 2010 (33 victories and four consecutive bowl appearances) for the most victories ever recorded by a senior class in MSU’s 115-year football history.
  • We've talked about how different Michigan State is on the road versus at home. The same is true for Iowa in conference games. The Hawkeyes are averaging 36.7 points at Kinnick Stadium and just 12 points away from it in league play. They are 0-2 on the road in the Big Ten and 3-0 at home.
  • Minnesota-Wisconsin is the most played rivalry game among FBS teams. This will be the 121st meeting between these two teams. The first meeting took place in 1890 and the two teams have met every year since then except for 1906. Minnesota has lost seven straight meetings against Wisconsin, its longest losing streak against the Badgers.
  • Michigan QB Denard Robinson averaged more than 168 yards rushing in non-conference play. However, his rushing numbers have declined in conference play. He has run for 100 yards just once in five Big Ten games and is averaging fewer than 65.6 yards per game on the ground in those games.
  • After averaging nearly 35 points per game in its six wins, Illinois has failed to score more than 14 points in its past three games. The Illini have outgained their opponent in each of their three losses but have eight turnovers in those games.
  • Northwestern’s quarterback platoon of Dan Persa and Kain Colter has been one of the league’s most effective in 2011. In conference-only statistics, the Wildcats lead the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 284.2, more than 50 yards per contest better than second-place Wisconsin. NU also ranks second in Big Ten play in total offense per game (458.7) and second in passing efficiency (162.8). Against Big Ten opponents, Colter is averaging a combined 136.7 yards per game in rushing, passing and receiving yardage and has accounted for nine touchdowns (four rushing, four passing and one receiving).
  • Ohio State's specialists have been pretty special lately. Sophomore kicker Drew Basil has connected on 12 consecutive field goal attempts. Punter Ben Buchanan ranks second nationally with 11 punts inside the 10.
  • Purdue freshman smashed the school record for both total kickoff return yardage and average yardage per kickoff return against Wisconsin with 206 return yards on five attempts. His 41.2 return average broke Stan Brown’s record of 39.5 set against Iowa on Oct. 18, 1969. Mostert’s historic day vaulted the freshman into sixth among all FBS returners and second in the Big Ten conference with a season average of 31.6 yards per return.

Did you know? Week 8

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
9:00
AM ET
Some notes and nuggets to get you primed for this weekend's games:
  • Michigan State is currently riding an 11-game home winning streak, the longest for the Spartans since they won 12 straight from 1964-66. MSU’s longest home winning streak ever is 23 games (1904-07). The home team has won the past six games in the Michigan State-Wisconsin series. The last road win by either came in 2002, when Wisconsin claimed a 42-28 victory in Spartan Stadium.
  • Wisconsin has given up just 58 points on the season, while it has scored 59 points in two games this year. The Badgers have allowed just seven TDs this season, or 10 fewer than RB Montee Ball has scored. Wisconsin and Stanford are the only two teams in the country to rank among the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
  • Illinois kicker Derek Dimke has made 10 straight field goals dating back to last year’s Texas Bowl, which is tied for the third-longest streak in school history. Dimke is a perfect 7-of-7 this season and is 36-of-41 for his career (.878), which makes him the nation’s most accurate active kicker.
  • Purdue totaled 344 yards last week against Penn State (162 rushing, 182 passing). That was the most yards gained against the Nittany Lions by any team except Alabama (359) this year. The Boilermakers only had 7 negative yards against the nation's No. 4-ranked defense. Ralph Bolden's 39-yard run was the longest rush against Penn State this year.
  • Indiana rushed for 223 yards on 45 attempts against Wisconsin last week. The last time the Hoosiers ran for 200 yards against a Big Ten opponent came against Purdue (219 yards) on Nov. 17, 2007. Sophomore Stephen Houston had a career-high 135 yards on 19 carries, the most yards by an IU back since Darius Willis had 142 against Purdue in 2009,
  • Iowa defensive back Tanner Miller returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown last week against Northwestern. That tied the Hawkeyes' record for longest interception return, matching Adam Shada's 98-yard effort against Purdue in 2006. Receiver Marvin McNutt tied the school career record with his 21st touchdown catch last week. He needs one more to move ahead of Tim Dwight (1994-97) and Danan Hughes (1989-92).
  • Of all its new Big Ten opponents, Nebraska is most familiar with Minnesota. The Gophers and Huskers have played 51 times in nonconference action during their history, dating back to 1900. The Gophers have had nine- and 10-game winning streaks against Nebraska in their history, but have lost 14 straight. The last meeting between the two came in 1990.
  • With 102 rushing yards against Ohio State, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez posted his eighth 100-yard rushing day in 19 career games. That tied him with Jammal Lord for the second-most 100-yard rushing games by a Huskers quarterback in school history. Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch (18) is the only Nebraska quarterback in history with more 100-yard rushing games than Martinez.
  • Northwestern's two-quarterback system has been far more productive than Penn State's. The tandem of Dan Persa and Kain Colter has combined to account for an average 299.3 of the Wildcats’ 420.7 yards of total offense since Persa returned from injury three games ago. The Wildcats have averaged 30 points per game during that time.
  • Penn State has forced multiple turnovers in six of its first seven games and is tied for 10th nationally with 17 turnovers gained. The Nittany Lions forced a total of 17 turnovers during the 2010 season. Penn State grabbed a season-high three interceptions in last week's win over Purdue, including two by Nate Stupar. The Nittany Lions now have 11 interceptions this season, already surpassing the 2010 total of 10.

Did you know? Week 7

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
9:00
AM ET
Some notes and nuggets to make you the smartest person at your tailgate this Saturday:
  • The Illinois defense has forced at least one turnover in 21 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the nation. The streak, which started on Nov. 14, 2009, nearly ended against Northwestern on Oct. 1, but Whitney Mercilus fell on the Wildcats’ last-ditch lateral attempt on the final play of the game to extend it. Speaking of streaking, receiver A.J. Jenkins has 18 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games, which is the most receiving yards in a two-game span in Big Ten history.
  • Ohio State has lost back-to-back games, marking the first time in a span of 88 games dating back to 2004 that has happened for the Buckeyes. They had the nation’s longest streak without consecutive losses until Nebraska's big comeback on Saturday.
  • Michigan has committed only 24 penalties for 218 yards in six games. The Wolverines rank first in the Big Ten and are tied for eight in the nation in fewest penalties per game.
  • The last six games between Michigan and Michigan State played in East Lansing have been decided by a total of 25 points. Each side has a 3-3 record in those games, with all being decided by a touchdown or less and two going to overtime. Mark Dantonio is 3-1 against Michigan and is looking to join Charlie Bachman (1933-37) as the only other Michigan State coach to beat Michigan in four of their first five tries.
  • Don't expect many turnovers in the Iowa-Northwestern game. The Wildcats have turned the ball over just four times, tying for fifth in the nation in fewest giveaways. Iowa has committed just seven turnovers on the season. But three of Iowa's turnovers came in the second half of last week's loss to Penn State, while half of Northwestern's season total came in last week's loss to Michigan. In their five victories over Iowa since 2005, the Wildcats are a combined plus-6 in turnover margin, getting five from the Hawkeyes in 2008 and four in 2009.
  • Wisconsin has won each of its last nine regular-season games by at least 20 points, with an average margin of victory of 38 points. The Badgers have scored at least 30 points in each of their last nine home games and are averaging 54.2 points over that span. Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by a combined 191 points and has yet to win by fewer than 30 points this season. The plus-191 point differential is better than that of any of the past five BCS national champions through their first five games.
  • One thing Indiana has been good at is scooping up dropped balls. The Hoosiers recovered two fumbles for the third straight game and the fourth time this season last week against Illinois. Indiana ranks second in the Big Ten and is tied for fifth nationally with nine fumble recoveries in 2011.
  • Penn State has held five of its first six opponents to 10 points or fewer, the first Nittany Lions team to do so since the 1978 squad that played Alabama for the national title in the Sugar Bowl. The defense has allowed just 63 points in its first six games, its second-lowest total since starting Big Ten play in 1993 (the 2009 team allowed 61 through its first six contests). Penn State has permitted only two touchdowns in the last four games and only six touchdowns for the season, tied for second fewest in the nation.
  • Purdue sophomore Cody Webster continues to lead the nation in punting average at 48.1 yards per attempt. Webster has booted nine of his 18 punts over 50 yards, including a season-long 66-yarder against Minnesota last weekend. The Harrisburg, Pa., native will be kicking in his home state this weekend at Penn State.

Did you know? Week 5

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
10:30
AM ET
Some notes and nuggets for you to consider before conference play gets going:
  • Illinois' defense has not allowed a point following the Illini's six turnovers this season, while forcing nine takeaways that have led to 27 points. The Illini have committed 25 turnovers since the start of the 2010 season but have allowed only 39 points (and just three touchdowns) off them.
  • Indiana safety Mark Murphy became the first Hoosiers true freshman since Tracy Porter (2004) to return an interception for a touchdown with his 31-yard return at North Texas. Murphy's father, also named Mark, is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
  • Michigan is 79-24-2 all-time in conference openers and has won 41 of its past 43 Big Ten openers. The only losses in that span came at Wisconsin, with a 21-14 loss in 1981 and a 23-20 defeat in 2005.
  • Michigan State has earned a Top 25 national ranking in the USA Today Coaches' Poll for 18 consecutive weeks. That's the program's longest streak in the coaches' poll since it appeared for 20 straight weeks from Sept. 19, 1999-Oct. 1, 2000.
  • Minnesota safety Kim Royston, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, has made at least 10 tackles in each of the Gophers' first four games. He leads the Big Ten with 41 stops.
  • Northwestern's first eight touchdowns of the season all came on running plays. Beginning with the fourth-quarter score against Eastern Illinois, however, the Wildcat's past three touchdowns have come via the pass. Northwestern has had five different players rush for eight touchdowns this season.
  • Nebraska rushed for a season-high 333 yards against Wyoming last week, improving to 14-0 in the past two seasons when rushing for at least 200 yards. The Huskers are 21-2 under Bo Pelini when rushing for at least 200 yards. Nebraska had 113 first-half rushing yards last week and 220 in the second half. A week earlier, the Huskers ran for 217 yards in the second half against Washington.
  • Luke Fickell will be the first Ohio State coach to face a defending Big Ten champion in his conference opener since the Buckeyes began Big Ten competition in 1913. Michigan State won a share of the league crown last season.
  • The Indiana game will mark Penn State’s 700th game since Joe Paterno joined the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff in 1950. Paterno was an assistant coach for 16 seasons before being promoted to head coach in 1966. Since 1950, Penn State is 508-184-7, and its 73.3 winning percentage in that time is third best in the nation.
  • Purdue hasn't exactly been a quick-strike offense, but it has shown an ability to matriculate the ball down the field. Eleven of the Boilermakers' 13 touchdown drives have spanned at least 50 yards, with six going for more than 70 yards.
  • Saturday's Nebraska game will be the first matchup of Top 10 teams at Camp Randall Stadium since Nov. 24, 1962, when No. 3 Wisconsin defeated No. 5 Minnesota 14-9. The Badgers are 35-3 in home games since Bret Bielema became head coach, and the only three losses came against teams that went on to BCS bowls (Ohio State and Penn State in 2008 and Iowa in 2009).

Did you know? Week 4

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
9:00
AM ET
Some news and nuggets for you to chew on before you heat up the grills for tailgating:
  • Illinois is now 3-0 for the first time since 2001, the program’s last Big Ten championship season. With a win over Western Michigan on Saturday, the Illini can improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1951, the program’s last national championship season. Ron Zook's team has now won four in a row dating back to last season, which is Illinois’ longest winning streak since 2007 and is tied for the sixth-longest current streak in the nation.
  • Indiana led South Carolina State, 21-7, after the first quarter last week. That was the most points in the first quarter by the Hoosiers since they scored 28 versus Northwestern on Nov. 3, 2001. IU also scored 21 points in the fourth quarter the previous week against Virginia, marking the first time on record that the Hoosiers had posted back-to-back 21-point quarters.
  • Iowa's 21-point rally for a 31-27 win over Pittsburgh is believed to be the largest comeback win in Hawkeyes history. The previous largest was an 18-point comeback against Oregon in 1949. The Hawkeyes trailed 24-6 with 2:30 left in the third quarter against the Ducks. Iowa's 21 fourth-quarter points were the most in a final period since it had 28 in a 42-24 win over Indiana on Oct. 31, 2009.
  • Michigan is 10-for-10 so far in red zone chances. Nine of the 10 scores have been touchdowns. The Wolverines scored on all five red zone possessions last week against Eastern Michigan, settling for the first field goal in the red zone of the season. Michigan scored on 78.0 percent of its red zone opportunities in 2010 (44 for 55, 40 touchdowns).
  • Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins moved into second place in school history in passing yards after throwing for 329 yards at Notre Dame, the most ever by a Spartans quarterback against the Fighting Irish. Cousins recorded career highs in pass attempts (53) and completions (34) against the Irish, falling one shy of the completion record set by by Jeff Smoker against Ohio State in 2003. Cousins passed Drew Stanton and now has 6,549 career passing yards, and with 45 touchdowns passes, he is just one shy of tying Bill Burke for the second-most TD passes in school history. Cousins already owns the best completion percentage (.652) and passing efficiency rating (146.8) in Spartans history.
  • True freshman Michael Amaefula picked up Minnesota's first sack of the season early in the second quarter vs. Miami of Ohio last week. The Gophers finished last among FBS schools in sacks for the 2010 season with just nine. Minnesota had gone without a sack in eight of its previous 14 games before Saturday.
  • Nebraska scored 51 points last week against Washington, marking its third straight game to open the season with at least 40 points. The last time the Huskers had at least 40 points in the first three games was the 1995 season, when Nebraska topped 40 against Oklahoma State (64), Michigan State (50) and Arizona State (77). This is the first time the Huskers have scored 40 or more points in three straight games at any point in the season since games 10 through 12 of the 2008 season, when it did so against Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado.
  • Ohio State’s previous two opponents -- Toledo (338 yards) and Miami (363) -- each topped 300 yards of total offense. The Silver Bullets defense hasn't allowed three straight games of 300 yards of total offense since 2004, when Michigan State (407), Purdue (384) and Michigan (399) pulled off the feat.
  • With its win at Temple, Penn State is now 15-3 in its next game after a loss since the start of the 2005 season. The Nittany Lions are 17-3 after a loss if the 2009 and 2011 season opening wins are included.
  • Wisconsin is one of five teams in the country who are averaging at least 230 yards rushing and receiving through its first three games (Georgia Tech, Oregon, Missouri and Alabama are the others). The Badgers have also given up just 24 points in their first three games and are tied for fourth in the country in scoring defense. This is the team’s best three-game defensive stretch since giving up 24 points total to Northwestern (9), Minnesota (12) and Purdue (3) from Oct. 7-21, 2006.

Did you know? Week 3

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
9:00
AM ET
Some notes and nuggets to help you to win some bets at your tailgating party this weekend:
  • Ohio State has not given up a sack in three consecutive games and 90 straight pass attempts going into the Miami game. The last sack Ohio State gave up was against rival Michigan in 2010.
  • Michigan State tied a school record by holding Florida Atlantic to only one first down last week. The last time it happened was in 1944 against Maryland. The Spartans became the first FBS team to allow only one first down since Oklahoma did it against Chattanooga in the 2008 opener. The 48 yards allowed by the Michigan State defense was the seventh-lowest in school history and the fewest since Notre Dame had only 12 yards in 1965. The 26 passing yards by FAU were the lowest against Michigan State since the 1984 Cherry Bowl.
  • Third down is prime time for Illinois. The Illini lead the nation in third-down efficiency, having converted 21 of 29 (.724) attempts thus far. They were 9-for-11 last week against South Dakota State. Illinois also leads the Big Ten in scoring offense (44.5 ppg), total offense (496.0 ypg) and rushing offense (283.0).
  • Nebraska meets Washington on Saturday for the third time in a year, which is quite unusual. The Huskers last faced an opponent that many times in a short period in 1998 and 1999, when they played Texas three times in 13 months, including the 1999 Big 12 title game. Nebraska and Oklahoma played three times in a year in 1978 and 1979, including the 1979 Orange Bowl.
  • Iowa plays Pittsburgh on Saturday, and Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz knows all about the visiting team's city. He went to Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh and served as a graduate assistant at Pitt under Jackie Sherrill in 1980. That team went 11-1 and finished No. 2 in the polls.
  • Penn State plays Temple at Lincoln Financial Field and is growing used to pro stadiums. This is the third NFL stadium in the last six games for the Lions, who met Indiana at FedExField on Nov. 20 last season and then played Florida in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. All time, Penn State has played in seven current NFL stadiums, including five since 2005.
  • Northwestern ran for 320 yards last week against Eastern Illinois, marking the first time the Wildcats topped 300 rushing yards since 2005. The 67 rushing attempts were the most since 2003 and 10 short of a school record. Northwestern has now gone over 200 yards rushing three straight games, including the Ticket City Bowl. The Wildcats' first eight touchdowns of the season have come on running plays; they are tied for fourth nationally in rushing scores.
  • A year after finishing fifth in the country in scoring at 41.5 points per game, Wisconsin is averaging 43 per game through two games. The Badgers are one of just four teams in the nation who haven't turned the ball over yet, and they led the country last year with a school-record nine giveaways. Wisconsin is also a perfect 11-for-11 in the red zone this season with 10 touchdowns.
  • Michigan had a plus-3 turnover margin in the opener against Western Michigan, the first time it had won the turnover battle since the Sept. 11, 2010 game at Notre Dame. The Wolverines followed that up with a plus-two margin against the Irish last week. They are now plus-five on the season after being a combined minus-32 the past three seasons.
  • Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray passed for 211 yards and rushed for 110 last week against New Mexico State, becoming the first Gopher quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards since Asad Abdul Khaliq had 106 against Michigan in 2003. Gray's 110 rushing yards were the most by a Minnesota quarterback since Billy Cockerham produced 122 at Iowa in 1999. Cockerham was also the last Gophers QB to pass for 200 and run for 100 in the same game, which he did versus Illinois in 1999.
  • Purdue has had almost perfect balance offensively in the first two games. The Boilermakers have 383 rushing yards and 403 passing yards so far this season. Last week at Rice, they had exactly 183 yards each rushing and passing.
  • Indiana played 10 true freshmen in the opener and three more last week against Virginia. Only Texas (18) has played more true frosh than the Hoosiers this season. Tre Roberson became only the second true freshman quarterback to ever play for the Hoosiers; Tim Clifford was the first in 1977.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12