A few notes and nuggets to memorize before you watch the games on Saturday. As always, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info for several of these.
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi has had most of his downfield success this season after faking a handoff. Stanzi has used play-action on 23.6 percent of his passes in 2010, and much of his success has been on downfield throws. When using play action on passes of 15 yards or longer, Stanzi has completed 10 of 14 attempts for an average of 27.7 yards per pass with four touchdowns.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown a touchdown pass in 15 straight games. If he keeps the streak alive this week, he'll tie Drew Stanton's team record.
During the past eight seasons, Big Ten teams are just 25-35 coming off a bye week. The only exception has been Michigan, which is 5-0 after a bye during this span -- by far the best record in the conference.
Penn State leads the nation with just 25.1 penalty yards per game, having committed 25 penalties for just 176 yards in seven games. The Nittany Lions trail only Wisconsin (3.33 avg.) with just 25 penalties in seven games (3.57 penalties per game).
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor needs two yards to reach 7,000 career offensive yards. He'd join Art Schlichter (8,850) and Bobby Hoying (7,151) as the only Buckeyes players to reach that total. Pryor needs two touchdown passes to reach 50 for his career, which would tie Schlichter for fourth in team history.
Michigan State has outscored Big Ten opponents 82-31 in the second half this season after having just a 47-43 difference in the first half. Michigan State’s second-half success can be attributed in part to Cousins throwing the ball better downfield as the game goes on. In Big Ten play, Cousins has completed just 38.5 percent of passes 15 yards or longer in the first half with no touchdowns. But he's completing 63.2 percent of passes 15 yards or longer with three touchdowns in the second half of games.
Northwestern's Dan Persa is completing 75.7 percent of his passes this season, which would shatter the Big Ten record for single-season completion percentage (minimum 100 completions) set by Wisconsin's Darrell Bevell, who completed 67.8 percent of his throws in 1993. Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien and Stanzi are also on pace to surpass Bevell's conference record. Tolzien is completing 71.8 percent of his passes, while Stanzi is connecting on 68.1 percent of his throws.
Illinois has allowed only eight touchdowns on 25 opponent red zone trips (32.0 percent) and ranks third nationally in red zone touchdown percentage defense, behind only Alabama (30.4 percent) and West Virginia (30.8 percent). The Illini rank third in the nation in red zone scoring percentage, picking up points on 22 of their 23 trips inside the 20 this season (96 percent).
Purdue leads the Big Ten with 20 sacks and 53 tackles for loss. The Boilers' game averages of 2.9 sacks and 7.6 TFLs rank 13th and 12th nationally, respectively. Purdue has recorded at least one sack and at least five tackles for loss in all seven games this season.
Ted Bolser already has set Indiana freshman tight end records with 16 receptions (fifth on team) and 271 receiving yards (fourth). He leads the team with five touchdowns, which is a record for all Hoosier tight ends and second all-time among freshmen receivers.
Michigan State is the eighth Big Ten team since the 2000 season to open the year with eight consecutive victories. Of the previous seven teams to open at 8-0, six advanced to BCS bowls and four won at least a share of the Big Ten title. This marks the fifth straight season that at least one Big Ten team has jumped out to an 8-0 start or better.
Minnesota's Adam Weber last week became just the fifth quarterback in Big Ten history to pass for more than 10,000 career yards. Weber joined Iowa’s Chuck Long (10,461), Northwestern’s Brett Basanez (10,580), Purdue’s Curtis Painter (11,163) and Purdue’s Drew Brees (11,792). He could pass Long to move into No. 4 all-time this week.
Northwestern carries a five-game road winning streak to Indiana after posting wins against Iowa, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Rice and Minnesota in its last five true road games. Since the start of the 2008 season, Northwestern has won a Big Ten-best 10 road games.