Dave Revsine, November 8, 2012
It?s November, and, just as we all predicted at the outset of the season, the most intriguing game in the conference in Week 11 pits Indiana against Wisconsin. Ok, no one actually predicted that. In fact, even though it?s now a reality, not everyone is actually admitting it. Said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, ?This isn't a big game. If it was, we wouldn't be 4-5 and we wouldn't be playing at 12 o'clock.?
Wait, don?t Michigan and Ohio State play at 12 o?clock? Whether Wilson wants to acknowledge it or not, it?s a big game. A Hoosiers win would genuinely put them in the driver?s seat for a trip to Indy.
It would also be monumental for other reasons.
1993: The Hoosiers bring a two game Big Ten winning streak into the contest. Indiana hasn?t won three conference games in a row since 1993.
2, 155: To put the Hoosiers run in perspective, they have now won 2 Big Ten games in the last 2 calendar weeks. Prior to this run, they had won 2 Big Ten games in 155 calendar weeks.
How are they doing it?
We?ve discussed the offensive improvement all year. The Hoosiers have already scored 41 more points in nine games than they scored in 12 games last season.
But the defense has also been better, particularly in the last two weeks.
17, 21, 31: In the last two games, the Hoosiers have allowed 17 points to Illinois and 21 to Iowa. Before that they had given up at least 31 points in 10 straight conference games - the longest such streak in the nation.
That defense will, of course, be challenged this week by Wisconsin?s Montee Ball, who saw a streak of his own come to an end in the Badgers? loss to Michigan State.
17: Before the game against MSU, Ball had scored at least two touchdowns in 17 straight games against conference opponents. He was held out of the end zone in the loss to MSU.
Ball currently stands third in the Big Ten in rushing yards by a running back, trailing only Le?Veon Bell of Michigan State and Northwestern?s Venric Mark.
Mark has been getting his yards in big chunks:
5: Mark has 5 runs this year of 40 yards or longer - that is tied for fourth most nationally.
Among those ahead of him, one of the players who will be on the opposite sideline on Saturday – Michigan?s Denard Robinson. He has six such runs.
Robinson spent his whole game on the sideline last week, as his elbow injury kept him out of Michigan?s win over Minnesota - though the Wolverines fared quite well with Devin Gardner playing in his place.
234: Michigan?s 234 passing yards against the Gophers were their most in a Big Ten game this season.
Both the Wildcats and the Wolverines will be pulling hard for Penn State, which faces Nebraska on Saturday, as both trail the Huskers in the Legends race.
The Nittany Lions and Huskers both bring impressive streaks into that game.
7: Penn State QB Matt McGloin has thrown for at least 200 yards in 7 straight games. That is a school record - one more than the previous mark, set by Kerry Collins in 1994.
8: As for the Huskers, they have had at least one player rush for 100 yards in 8 straight games. That?s the longest such streak for them since a 20-game run (no pun intended, I suppose) between 1999 and 2000.
Nebraska?s 313 rushing yards last week against Michigan State were the most the Spartans have allowed since 2005.
The Huskers? four-point win over the Spartans marked the sixth straight MSU game decided by four or fewer points - the longest such streak in college football since at least 1996.
They?re not the only Big Ten team that?s played an unusual number of close games.
5: Iowa has had 5 games decided by three points or less this year. That?s the most of any team in the nation. The Hawks have gone (2-3) in those contests.
An ineffective passing offense is largely to blame for Iowa?s struggles.
4: The Hawks have just 4 passing TDs this season. Only three teams nationally have fewer.
As for their opponent on Saturday: after a strong start in non-conference play, Purdue?s offense is also having major problems.
25.3: The Boilers are averaging 25.3 fewer points per game in conference play than they did in the non-conference - dropping from 42.5 points per game to 17.2. That is the third-largest drop-off of any team in the nation.
As badly as things are going for Purdue, they?re no better at Illinois, another team with serious offensive issues.
2, 19: Illini quarterback Nate Scheelhaase has just 2 completions of 25 yards or longer this season. He had 19 such completions in each of the past two seasons.
This week, the Illini face a Minnesota team that is one win away from clinching a bowl berth. The Gophers are hoping that Illinois will be the answer for their inconsistent offense.
44, 52: Minnesota scored 44 points in its lone conference win, topping Purdue 44-28. The Gophers have tallied a total of 52 points in their other four Big Ten games combined - interestingly enough, scoring exactly 13 points in each game.
Be sure to join us for the entire day of action, starting with "The Big Ten Football Pregame" presented by Auto-Owners Insurance at 11 a.m. ET.
|BTN's Dave Revsine hosts a number of TV shows, including our Big Ten Football Pregame show every Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. His popular Big Ten football stats column "Numbers" runs Thursdays during the football season. Find previous columns here, subscribe to his "Numbers" RSS feed, and follow him on Twitter @BTNDaveRevsine.