Stats & Info: Illinois Fighting Illini

Why Mannion's record game was deceiving

October, 1, 2013
Week 5 featured the first full slate of conference games, and many matchups lived up to their pregame hype. Georgia outscored LSU in a back-and-forth game filled with big plays and superb quarterback play. Alabama found its defense and shut out Ole Miss at home. And Braxton Miller returned from injury to throw four touchdowns and lead Ohio State past Wisconsin.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information looks back on Week 5 and ahead to this weekend’s matchup between Northwestern and Ohio State.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsSean Mannio threw for a school-record 6 touchdowns on Saturday in Oregon State's win over Colorado.

First, we look at how a record-setting performance could look rather pedestrian through the lens of our metrics.

Sean Mannion threw for 414 yards and a school record six touchdowns in Oregon State's 44-17 win against Colorado. But he finished with a middle-of-the-road 48.8 Total QBR.

At first glance, Mannion’s stats are outstanding. But he completed 52 percent of his passes, threw an interception and took two sacks, including one sack-fumble. In addition, a lot of Mannion's production came in garbage time: 117 pass yards and three touchdowns when leading by at least 21 points. In sum, that led to a below-average 48.8 Total QBR.

Best Individual Performances
Stephen Morris (97.0 Total QBR) completed 11-of-16 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an ankle injury in Miami's win against South Florida. Morris’ 97.0 Total QBR was the highest by a Miami quarterback against an FBS opponent in the last 10 seasons.

Nathan Scheelhaase (93.7 Total QBR) threw for 278 yards and a career-high five pass touchdowns as Illinois beat Miami (OH). Scheelhaase completed 79 percent of his passes, including five of seven passes in the red zone that resulted in four touchdowns.

Taysom Hill (93.1 Total QBR) became the second player in the FBS to pass for 150 yards and rush for 150 yards in a game this season as BYU beat Middle Tennessee 37-10. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois is the other quarterback to accomplish the feat this season. Hill ran for 165 yards on 18 attempts, resulting in 5.2 expected points added on rushing plays. This season, Hill leads all FBS quarterbacks with 565 rush yards and has added almost twice as many expected points on running plays than any other quarterback.

Tyler Murphy (93.0 Total QBR) followed up his 98.1 Total QBR in his debut with a 93 QBR in Florida's win against Kentucky. Murphy completed all 11 of his passes in the first half and had a 98.9 Total QBR in the first 30 minutes of play. In 15 career starts, injured Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has never had a single-game Total QBR of 93 or above or a perfect completion percentage in a half.

View the full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 5.

Best Team Performances
Offense: East Carolina. The Pirates scored seven offensive touchdowns and averaged 4.2 points per drive in their 55-31 victory at North Carolina. They added 32.3 expected points on offense, which was the second-most offensive expected points added in a game against an AQ opponent this season (Oregon: +39.2 EPA against Tennessee on Sept. 14).

Defense: Alabama. The Tide’s defense added 24.4 expected points toward their 25-point victory. That means that if Alabama had an average defense, it would have basically been an equal matchup on Saturday. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 490 yards and 38 points per game, but the Rebels were held to 205 total yards and were shut out for the first time since 1998.

Special Teams: Georgia. Special teams is often overlooked, but it may have been the difference in Georgia’s win against LSU.

The graphic shows the expected points added by each of Georgia’s units to the team's net points in the game. Georgia’s offense and defense basically canceled each other out, but its special teams unit added four expected points, which may have been the difference in the game.

On special teams, Georgia recovered a muffed punt and made all three of its field goals, including a 55-yard field goal by Marshall Morgan in the third quarter.

Looking ahead to Week 6
Ohio State travels to No. 16 Northwestern looking to knock off its second-straight ranked opponent on Saturday. College GameDay will be at Northwestern for the first time since a 1995 showdown against Iowa.

For Northwestern to pull off the upset, the Wildcats must stop Ohio State’s balanced offense. The Buckeyes have passed for 1,070 yards and rushed for 1,436 yards in five games this season. They are one of two teams (Texas A&M) that has added at least 50 expected points on passing and rushing plays.

Ohio State will have its own challenge on defense as it tries to stop Northwestern’s dual-quarterback system. Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian are off to hot starts, with each player posting a Total QBR above 70 this season. The only other team that has two quarterbacks with at least 75 action plays and a Total QBR of 70 or above is Ohio State.

Crimson Tide rolls through first round

April, 26, 2012
Jerry Lai/US PresswireTrent Richardson was the first of four Alabama Crimson Tide players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The national champion Alabama Crimson Tide had three underclassmen selected in the first round -- Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont'a Hightower.

Last year, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram were taken in the first round after leaving Alabama early, and in 2010, Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson were selected in Round 1 after forgoing their final season of eligibility in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama joins the Miami Hurricanes (2002-04) as the only schools to have multiple underclassmen taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in three consecutive years.

The Crimson Tide are the first team to have eight underclassmen taken in the first round in a three-year span. Those Miami teams had seven -- two in 2002, two in 2003 and three in 2004.

Alabama is on a four-year run that began with Andre Smith being a first-round pick as an underclassman in 2009. That started after the Crimson Tide didn't have a first-round pick from 2001-2008 and failed to have a single player selected in any of the seven rounds of the 2008 Draft.

With Hightower and Mark Barron chosen in the first seven picks, the Crimson Tide became the second team in the Common Draft Era to have two or more players selected in the first 10 picks in consecutive drafts.

The Ohio State Buckeyes had two top-10 picks each in the 1996 and 1997 drafts, highlighted by Orlando Pace going first overall in 1997. Dareus and Jones went in the first 10 picks from Alabama last season.

Other than Alabama, the only school to have multiple first-round selections in each of the last two drafts was the Baylor Bears. Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins went in the first round from the Bears last season. The four picks over the last two years brings Baylor’s total to 10 first-round picks all-time.

Baylor is also one of two schools this year and five all-time to have a quarterback and wide receiver selected in the first round of the same draft.

Draft chatter
• No players from Miami, Florida or Florida State were selected in the first round for the first time since 1980.

• Nineteen early entrants were selected in the first round, surpassing the 2010 draft’s 17 for the most in NFL history.

• Riley Reiff of the Iowa Hawkeyes was the first pick from a Big Ten school, going 23rd overall to the Detroit Lions. That ties 1968 for the common draft era record for the longest into a draft before a Big Ten pick, when the Baltimore Colts selected John Williams of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

• Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith were each selected in the first round from Notre Dame. The last time the Fighting Irish had multiple first round picks was 1994 (Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor and Jeff Burris).

• Whitney Mercilus and A.J. Jenkins were the first pair of Illinois Fighting Illini players selected in the first round since Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice went in the top three picks in 1996.

• The Boise State Broncos are the first team not from a major conference to have two first-round picks since the Jackson State Tigers in 2000.

Brad Edwards contributed to this post

NFC North draft focus on offensive line

April, 11, 2012
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we start off with the NFC North.

Chicago Bears
Need: Offensive line

The Bears have allowed a sack once every 10.5 dropbacks over the last two seasons, most in the NFL. No other team allowed a sack at a rate lower than once every 12.0 dropbacks.

They averaged 3.3 yards per rush up the middle last season, 30th in the NFL, with just two 20-yard rushes. When rushing to either side, the Bears averaged 5.0 yards per rush with 18 20-yard rushes.

Chicago drafted OT Gabe Carimi in the first round (29th overall) of the 2011 Draft.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Detroit Lions
Needs: Offensive line, secondary

LT Jeff Backus has played for 11 seasons, and the Lions didn’t re-sign Corey Hilliard, his primary backup last season.

The Lions had 14 rushing first downs outside the tackles (31st in the NFL) and were one of two teams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) without a rushing touchdown outside the tackles.

Defensively, Detroit allowed 59 percent of passes outside the numbers to be completed (fifth-worst in the league).

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Green Bay Packers
Need: Pass rush

The Packers sent five or more pass rushers on 46 percent of opponent dropbacks last season, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL and up from the 36 percent rate in Dom Capers’ first two seasons as defensive coordinator.

The Packers ramped up the blitz last season to overcompensate for a lack of pressure from a standard rush. After recording 30 sacks when rushing four or fewer in 2010 (second-most), the Packers picked up 11 sacks last season, the second-fewest in the NFL.

Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo combined for 5.0 sacks from the outside linebacker position last season, one fewer than Clay Matthews.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Nick Perry, LB, USC
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Andre Branch, DE/LB, Clemson

Minnesota Vikings
Needs: Offensive line, secondary

Against five or more pass rushers the Vikings were either sacked, under duress or hit while throwing on 37 percent of dropbacks, fourth-highest in the NFL. Opposing defenses exploited that weakness, as no team faced extra pressure on more dropbacks than the Vikings.

Matt Kalil is the consensus pick by Kiper and McShay, but boosting the secondary might be a more pressing need.

Minnesota allowed 17 touchdowns on throws of more than 10 air yards, the most in the league, and ranked last defending against wide receivers.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Paul powers Illinois to upset win

January, 11, 2012
Brandon Paul’s 43-Point Explosion
Brandon Paul exploded for 43 points in Illinois’ 79-74 win over Ohio State. It’s the third most points in Illinois history behind only Dave Downey’s 53 points in 1963 and Andy Kaufmann’s 46 in 1990.

Paul nearly doubled his previous career high of 23. It’s also the fourth most points ever scored against the Buckeyes, and the most since Central Michigan’s Tommie Johnson had 45 in 1987.

Paul also added eight points and four rebounds. Over the past 10 seasons, the only other players with 40 points, eight rebounds and four blocks were Al Thornton and Chris Kaman.

Second-Worst Loss of Rick Pitino Era
Providence stunned Louisville 90-59 behind a pair of 27-point scorers (Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts). The 31-point margin is the largest for the Friars over a ranked foe since 1978. For Louisville, it was the second-worst loss of the Rick Pitino era.

Vincent Council fell just two rebounds shy of a triple-double. He’s the first player with 15 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists since East Tennessee State's Courtney Pigram in 2007.

Florida State block party
Virginia Tech shot just 30.5 percent in a 63-59 loss to Florida State, but it wasn’t necessarily because the Hokies were off the mark. Of their 41 misses, 15 were blocked shots. Deividas Dulkys accounted for five of those, despite having only seven blocks entering the game.

It tied the most blocks against Virginia Tech in school history. In 1988, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning helped Georgetown to 15 blocks against the Hokies. The 15 blocks tied a Florida State school record set in 1994-95 against Florida Atlantic.

Seattle plays Hack-a-Husky
When Seattle faces Washington, you can count on some fouls. The Huskies attempted 59 free throws courtesy of 37 Seattle fouls in a 91-83 win. The last time these two teams met at Washington (in 2010), Seattle committed 45 fouls which led to 61 Washington free throws.

In the last three seasons, there have been five games in which a team shot at least 59 free throws. Two of those have been Washington at home against Seattle.

Seton Hall continues to roll
A pair of Seton Hall players registered career-high scoring totals in the Pirates’ 94-73 win over DePaul. Fuquan Edwin finished with 28 points, having already matched his career high at halftime.

But Jordan Theodore, overlooked as a Cousy Award finalist, was perhaps the most impressive player on the court. He finished with a career-high 26 points and 11 assists. During Seton Hall’s four-game Big East win streak, Theodore is averaging 19.3 points per game and 9.8 assists per game.

Perfection on the line this weekend

December, 16, 2011
As we enter this weekend’s slate of college hoops, there are just nine remaining unbeaten teams in Division I. All of those squads will put their perfect records on the line this weekend.

Baylor Bears (8-0)
Baylor travels to Provo, UT where it will face a BYU Cougars team that has only lost five games at home since 2005-06. During that span, the Bears are 48-2 in non-conference home games, but lost their only such game against a ranked foe in 2009 vs Wake Forest.

Illinois Fighting Illini (10-0)
Saturday at the United Center, Illinois and the UNLV Runnin' Rebels will face off in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament Round of 64 game won by the Illini. Illinois is 10-0 for the first time since starting 15-0 in the 2005-06 season.

Indiana Hoosiers (9-0)
The last time Indiana faced the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Irish won 88-50 at the 2008 Maui Classic in Hawaii. This will be the first meeting between the two in-state rivals in Indianapolis since 1959. On Saturday, the Hoosiers look to improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1989-90.

Louisville Cardinals (9-0)
Louisville takes on an unranked Memphis Tigers team that is just 5-3 and has failed to live up to expectations as the ninth-ranked team in the preseason poll. This will be the 86th meeting between these former C-USA, Metro Conference and MVC rivals. Louisville holds a 51-34 edge including 30-11 at home.

Marquette Golden Eagles (9-0)
Marquette is off to its best start since the 2004-05 season and is looking to start a season with 10 straight wins for just the sixth time in school history. The Golden Eagles host the Northern Colorado Bears in the first-ever meeting between the schools.

Missouri Tigers (10-0)
The Tigers improved to 10-0 with a 104-67 win over the Kennesaw State Owls on Thursday night. This is their best start since they opened the 1991-92 season with 11 straight wins. They host the William & Mary Tribe on Sunday.

Murray State Racers (11-0)
Murray State became the first team to 11-0 with an 89-65 win over Lipscomb on Thursday night. The Racers are off to their best start since 1950-51, and the fourth-best start in school history. They host the Arkansas State Red Wolves Saturday.

Syracuse Orange (10-0)
Syracuse heads to Raleigh, NC to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack for its first true road game against a non-conference opponent since facing Memphis in December 2008. NC State is 5-25 all-time against the AP No. 1. Only 11 schools have more such wins.

Xavier Musketeers (8-0)
The Musketeers play their first game since the brawl with the Cincinnati Bearcats last weekend. Xavier, which hosts the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on Sunday, has won 14 straight and 44 of its last 45 games at the Cintas Center.
Two more teams clinched division titles and trips to conference championship games, while another staved off elimination and set up a winner-take-all game next week, on a busy early afternoon slate of games across the country.

Big Ten
The Michigan State Spartans can book their plane tickets to Indianapolis, and they have their most-hated rival to thank for being crowned the first-ever champion of the Big Ten Legends Division.

The Spartans 55-3 blowout win over the Indiana Hoosiers, coupled with the Nebraska Cornhusker's loss to the Michigan Wolverines, means that the Spartans will play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game December 3.

Playing in their final home game, seniors Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham led Michigan State to its 14th straight home win and its second undefeated season at Spartan Stadium in as many years. This is the first time since 1955-56 the team has had back-to-back perfect home seasons.

Cunningham was on the receiving end for 132 of Cousins’ 272 yards and two of his three passing scores. Cousins has 60 career touchdowns throws, one shy of the Spartans record set by Jeff Smoker. Cunningham has 20 touchdown catches, tied with Plaxico Burress and Andre Rison for third-most in Michigan State history.

While the Spartans were taking care of business in East Lansing, the Wolverines exploded for four touchdowns in the second half against Nebraska en route to a 45-17 win in Ann Arbor.

Denard Robinson, who was averaging fewer than 60 yards per game on the ground in his first six Big Ten games, rushed for over 80 yards and two touchdowns while also throwing for two more scores. His four games with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns since the start of last season are matched only by former Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton.

Needing a win to avoid elimination in the Big Ten Leaders division race, the Wisconsin Badgers rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to beat the Illinois Fighting Illini 28-17. The Badgers face the Penn State Nittany Lions next weekend in a game that will decide the champion of the Leaders division.

Montee Ball was the offensive star, running for over 200 yards while scoring three times (two receiving, one rushing). Ball has at least two touchdowns in every game this season, and he is the fifth player in FBS history with at least 30 total touchdowns in a season.

The Georgia Bulldogs started the season 0-2, but have rebounded to win their last nine games, including a 19-10 win over the Kentucky Wildcats that clinched the SEC East title and their first berth in the SEC Championship game since 2005.

The Bulldogs nine-game win streak is their longest in a single season since 1982, when they went 11-0 in the regular season under coach Vince Dooley before losing to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl.

Despite losing freshman starting running back Isaiah Crowell on the first possession of the game due to an ankle injury, Georgia still won the rushing battle 155-23 as Brandon Harton ran for a career-high 101 yards.

Big 12 reclaims top spot in Power Rankings

October, 24, 2011
The Big 12 is again atop the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings after a brief stint at No. 2 last week.

While the SEC has the top two teams in the nation in LSU and Alabama, the Conference Rankings are designed to measure a conference’s relative strength from top to bottom. Seven of the Big 12’s 10 teams have two or fewer losses, and all seven of those schools received at least 25 points in the AP Poll.

In comparison, five of the SEC’s 12 teams have two or fewer losses and only six SEC teams received AP votes.

The computers favor the Big 12 over the SEC as the Big 12’s average computer ranking is 8.5 points higher than the average SEC ranking. Oklahoma State is the top-ranked team in the nation according to the BCS computers.

Texas Tech's victory against Oklahoma demonstrated the depth of the Big 12. The Red Raiders were previously 1-2 in Big 12 play, but were able to go on the road and shock one of the top teams in the country. Texas Tech jumped into the AP Top 25 for the first time this season after the victory.

Other upsets this weekend did not help certain conferences in the rankings. The Big East lost 13.5 points after two of the top teams in the conference, West Virginia and Rutgers, lost on Friday. West Virginia fell from 11th to 25th place in the AP Poll after the loss, and the Big East is in jeopardy of falling out of seventh place.

Losses by Wisconsin and Illinois also hurt the Big Ten’s ranking. Just two weeks ago the Big Ten had three undefeated teams (Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois), which was tied for the most of any conference after six weeks. Today, no team in the Big Ten is undefeated or ranked in the top eight of the AP Poll.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences, click here.

There are 10 remaining undefeated teams in FBS entering this weekend, and three of them remained perfect early Saturday afternoon with big victories over conference rivals.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys took care of business on the road, with a 45-24 win over the Missouri Tigers in Columbia. The Cowboys snapped Missouri’s 10-game home win streak, marking the third time Oklahoma State has ended a Tigers’ home win streak of at least nine games (2008, 2004).

This is the third time in school history the Cowboys have started 7-0 or better. They won their first seven games in 2008 and had a school record 9-0 start in 1945. The Cowboys have won nine straight road games, two shy of the school record set from 1943-45.

The Kansas State Wildcats also got a big road win, blowing out the Kansas Jayhawks 59-21 in the annual Sunflower Showdown. This is the 10th time in 20 games under coach Bill Snyder they have put at least 40 points on the scoreboard in this rivalry game, and the second straight year they’ve scored exactly 59 points.

Collin Klein rushed for a career-high four touchdowns, matching the most in a game by a Kansas State quarterback. His 14 rushing touchdowns this season are two shy of the school record in a season by a QB, set by Ell Roberson in 2002.

The Clemson Tigers remained perfect with a 59-38 win at home over the North Carolina Tar Heels. This is just the fourth time in school history they have started a season with eight straight wins, joining the 1948, 1981 and 2000 teams.

However, the Tigers could be on upset alert next week when they take on Georgia Tech. The last time Clemson started 8-0 was in 2000, and that season the Tigers also beat the Tar Heels to improve to 8-0, before losing to Georgia Tech the next week.

Around CFB Nation
• Illinois lost its second straight game, falling 21-14 to Purdue in West Lafayette. Also for the second week in a row, the Fighting Illini were held scoreless in the first half…and it doesn’t get much easier for Illinois as they travel to 21st-ranked Penn State next Saturday.

• Arkansas overcome a 17-7 halftime deficit by outscoring Ole Miss 22-7 in the second half to win 29-24. The Razorbacks have won six of their first seven games for just the third time since joining the SEC in 1992 (1998, 2006). The Rebels have lost 10 straight conference games, the longest active conference losing streak among BCS teams.

• Marvin McNutt caught four touchdown passes, becoming Iowa's all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 24. He passed Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes, who both had 21 for the Hawkeyes.

Week 6 Conference Power Rankings

October, 10, 2011
The Big 12 remains atop the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings after another strong week by top teams Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who won by a combined 80 points on Saturday.

Six Big 12 teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the second-straight week as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas A&M all took care of business against conference opponents. For the first time this season, the Big 12 has more teams ranked in the AP Top 25 (6) than the SEC (5) despite having two fewer teams in the conference.

Florida again lost by 25-plus points against a formidable SEC opponent and fell out of the AP Top 25. It is the first time that the Gators lost consecutive games by double-digits since 1992, and the first time that no team from the state of Florida appeared in the AP Top 25 since Dec 6, 1982.

With Florida’s fall from the AP Top 25, the SEC lost the top spot in the component of the Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings that measures AP Ranks. Despite the fall, the SEC is the only conference with three teams ranked in the AP Top 10 and four teams in the AP Top 15.

The Big Ten continued to close the gap on the Big 12 and SEC as Michigan State jumped into the AP Top 25 despite not playing this weekend. Now the Big Ten has five ranked teams and three undefeated teams (Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois). Only the Big 12 has as many teams undefeated as the Big Ten.

Next weekend 14 ranked teams play on the road versus conference opponents. Look for trap games and upsets that may again shake up these rankings.

1. Not only did the coaching situation at Minnesota take a dramatic turn this week with the firing of Tim Brewster, but his interim replacement owns a dubious distinction before even coaching a game for the Golden Gophers. With Eastern Michigan’s win last week, head coach Ron English finally got in the win column after going 0-18 to start his career.

So, which current FBS head coach now owns the longest active losing streak? That would be Jeff Horton, Minnesota’s interim coach with 16 … AND … he hasn’t coached an FBS game since 1998! Horton was the head coach at UNLV from 1994-98. His 1997 team lost its final 5 games, and then he went 0-11 in 1998.

2. The last time Nebraska beat an AP Top 20 team on the road, Tom Osborne was the head coach. The Huskers have lost 17 straight games on the road to AP Top 20 teams and 11 of them have been by double digits. The school’s last win over an AP Top 20 team on the road came in 1997 at second-ranked Washington, 27-14.

3. Given that Wisconsin is world-renowned for, among other things, its beer, the Badger State might be expected to have somewhat of a lasting hangover after Saturday’s win at Camp Randall Stadium against No. 1 Ohio State. Whether that hangover latches itself to the Wisconsin football team and lingers into this weekend’s game at Iowa remains to be seen. But recent history says that other teams haven’t been on guard enough against a post-upset letdown.

The last seven teams to beat the AP No. 1 in the regular season have just a 3-4 record in their next game. However, there is a bit of silver lining for the Badgers. Included among those seven teams, there’s one Big Ten team on the list. That’s Illinois, who also beat Ohio State in 2007, and they were one of the three teams to win their next game.

4. The Stanford Cardinal are 5-1 for the fifth time since 1971. A win over Washington State on Saturday would give the Cardinal a 6-1 start for the first time since 1970, when Stanford started 8-1 on the season.

The last four times Stanford sat at 5-1, the Cardinal dropped their seventh game, all to conference opponents.
Since going 10-0 in 1940, the Cardinal have won six of their first seven games only three other times (1941, 1951, 1970).

5. Oregon might be the top-ranked AP team in the nation, but the Ducks probably wish this week’s game was on Saturday, instead of Thursday. The Ducks have not enjoyed many pleasant memories in recent Thursday games, although they did win last year’s Civil War on a Thursday. Their previous four Thursday appearances were ones to forget.

SEC and Big Ten streaks coming to an end

October, 18, 2010
• This marks the first week since Nov. 25, 2007 that the SEC has NOT had a team in the top two of the BCS Standings. That week, Missouri was No. 1 while West Virginia was No. 2. Since then, an SEC team had been either one or two for 17 straight weeks.

On the flip side, Auburn’s No. 4 ranking in the BCS Standings marks the 33rd straight week that the SEC has had a team in the top five, which is the longest active streak by far. The last time there was no SEC team in the top five of the BCS Standings was Dec. 4, 2005 (Georgia was highest at seventh). The conference with the next longest active streak is the Big 12 (22 straight weeks).

NOTE: A “week” indicates a BCS Standings release. Obviously there are several weeks between the final BCS Standings and the major bowl games. Those are not included above.

• Starting next season, the Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry will no longer be an annual event. Instead, it will only be played two out of every five years.

That’s because Iowa and Wisconsin will be placed in separate divisions when the Big Ten expands to add Nebraska.

Wisconsin’s rivalry with Minnesota (for “Paul Bunyan’s Axe”) was protected, while Iowa will have a new cross-divisional “rivalry” with Purdue.

The Wisconsin-Iowa series dates back more than 100 years and on Saturday (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN) they will have played in 72 of the last 74 years.