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.