Facts on facts.
The Michigan State defense is the only team in the nation that has held each of its opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards in each game this season. The Spartans’ longest allowed rush this season was 64 yards, and if that single run were taken out, MSU would currently be allowing just 1.3 yards per rush which would match the lowest FBS rushing average since North Texas allowed 1.3 yards per rush in 1966.
Five times this season Nebraska has mounted a fourth-quarter comeback -- eight FBS teams have accomplished that over the past two seasons. However, the Cornhuskers are the only team to have all five in conference play (this season Michigan and Northwestern, last season Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern). In all of those comebacks, excluding Penn State, the Huskers’ win probability sunk below 10 percent at one point in the game.
While Christian Hackenberg might be one of the Big Ten’s best known freshmen, the Boilermakers have plenty of freshmen seeing quality time. Last weekend Purdue started five freshmen and played 19. Two of the top four rushers are freshmen (Dalyn Dawkins, B.J. Knauf) and freshman DeAngelo Yancey leads the Boilermakers in receiving with 338 yards.
Penn State leads the conference in fewest penalty yards per game (35.3), though it’s No. 3 in the Big Ten for penalties received during games (41 total). The Nittany Lions’ most penalized game was against Illinois, when they accrued 11 penalties for 95 yards. The second-most penalties they’ve suffered this season is five (on four occasions).
When it comes to scoring drives, the only team faster than Indiana this season is Baylor. The Hoosiers’ average touchdown drive lasts just 1 minute, 32 seconds. Seventeen times this season, they’ve scored in three plays or less, allowing them to be on such a fast pace.
The Badgers hold an eight-game win streak over Indiana. In that period, Wisconsin’s average margin of victory has been an impressive 35.4 points. The Badgers have averaged 52 points per game against IU while the Hoosiers have averaged just 16.6 per game against the Badgers.
So far this season, the Buckeyes are the only FBS team that hasn’t given up a run of 20 yards or more. The longest run they did allow was a 17-yard gain by Wisconsin running back James White.
Illinois and Ohio State will be playing for more than just a victory this weekend. The two teams will also be facing off for Illibuck -- a wooden turtle trophy (at one point, the trophy was a live turtle). And yes, Illibuck is a big enough deal that it has a Twitter account. Bio: “I'm a 32-pound wooden turtle. I'm the 2nd oldest Big Ten rivalry trophy. I'm kind of a big deal.”
Michigan leads the series against Northwestern at Ryan Field 19-7. However, the Wildcats have been the more valuable team in close games over their 71 meetings. Northwestern is 6-2-2 in games decided by three or less and 10-9-2 in games decided by seven or less.
Northwestern has recorded 18 interceptions this season, tied for the best in the nation with Florida State and Houston. That total is just two short of the school record and the Wildcats will do their best to pick off Devin Gardner this weekend to inch closer to that number. The redshirt junior has been more careful with the ball of late but has still accounted for 12 interceptions this season.