Dave Revsine, November 15, 2012
The Leaders representative in Indy has been decided. Now, over the next two weeks, Nebraska and Michigan will battle it out to see who represents the Legends.
It's been a different Wolverines team on offense the last two weeks - as the play of Devin Gardner has made them far more difficult to defend. While I'm certainly not suggesting that Denard Robinson shouldn't play somewhere if he's healthy, the numbers certainly suggest that Michigan has been better on offense with Gardner at QB.
10, 0: Michigan's offense has tallied 10 touchdowns over its last two outings. The Wolverines had 0 TD's in their prior two games - admittedly against superior defenses.
For Iowa, the QB question has been a year-long one. And, while the Hawks' offensive struggles are about much more than just James Vandenberg, by at least one measure, his numbers have been quite poor.
5, 339: Vandenberg has thrown just 5 TD passes in 339 attempts. That is the most attempts for any FBS QB with that few TD's since 2006, when Florida International's Josh Padrick tossed just 5 in 388 throws.
Vandenberg figures to have a hard time this week against an outstanding Michigan pass defense.
17: The Wolverines have allowed fewer than 250 passing yards in 17 straight games. That is the longest such streak nationally.
The team the Wolverines are chasing in the Legends, Nebraska, is one of the few teams that has moved the ball well against Michigan. The Wolverines aren't the only ones who had trouble stopping the Huskers.
412, 28; 312, 17.7: As was noted by Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald, the Huskers have averaged 412 yards and 28 points against the trio of Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. Pretty impressive when you consider those three combine to allow an average of 312 yards and 17.7 points per game.
The story of the Huskers' season, though, has been the come-from-behind wins - with the latest coming last week over Penn State. It's a mind-boggling run - particularly when you put it into historical perspective.
3, 4: The Huskers have now come from 14 or more points behind to win 3 times this season. Coming into this season, they had come back from 14 or more down 4 times since 1951.
Nebraska has done this despite leading the Big Ten with 25 turnovers, which plays right into the hands of this week's opponent.
13, 1: Forced turnovers have been the key to Minnesota's success this season. The Gophers have forced 13 in their six wins and just 1 in their four losses.
Minnesota reached bowl eligibility last week. Four other Big Ten teams are still fighting to make a bowl, with each facing various levels of difficulty in getting there. With Penn State on the schedule this week, Indiana may be looking at the biggest uphill battle.
(0-15): The Hoosiers are 0-15 all-time against the Nittany Lions. In fact, they have lost a combined 48 straight games to the trio of Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan.
If it's any consolation, they face a Nittany Lion team that showed itself to be vulnerable last week.
438: Penn State gave up 438 yards against Nebraska - the most it has allowed since its season opener against Ohio University. It had held its last eight opponents under 380 total yards.
While we're on the topic of yardage totals, Northwestern's output against Michigan is a bit of a silver lining amidst another devastating loss.
431: The 'Cats got 431 total yards against Michigan. It was tied for the most yards the Wolverines have given up all season. They also yielded 431 to Alabama.
This week, Northwestern gets a Michigan State team that has been tough to move the ball on all season - or at least was until its last outing.
313: The Spartans gave up 313 rushing yards against Nebraska, the most they have yielded since 2005.
The real issues for MSU, though, have been slow starts and close losses.
17: MSU has scored a total of 17 first-quarter points in its last eight games.
6: MSU has played 6 straight games that have been decided by four or fewer points. That's the longest such streak in FBS football since at least 1996. The Spartans have lost four of those close finishes.
For Illinois, losing a close game would actually be seen as progress.
14: The Illini are the only team in the nation to lose all of their conference games by at least 14 points this season.
The key to ending that streak against Purdue is to limit the Boilers rushing attack.
231.8, 110.2: Purdue has averaged 231.8 yards per game on the ground in its four wins this season. The Boilers have put up 110.2 in their six losses. It's quite similar to last year's trend, which saw Purdue put up 231.7 yards per game rushing in its wins and 123.2 in its losses.
It's all, of course, a far cry from the amazing 564 rushing yards that Wisconsin put up last week in its win over Indiana - most ever for the Badgers, and most for a Big Ten team since 1994.
Lost in all of this was the fact that the Wisconsin defense held Indiana to a season low in points (14) last week, continuing an impressive defensive season.
44.1%: 44.1% of Wisconsin's opponents' drives have ended in 3 and outs this season. That is the second highest percentage nationally.
The Badgers face Ohio State Saturday in what is shaping up as the best game of the week.
Last year, the Bucks went 6-7, with the blame being placed almost equally on an offense that scored more than two touchdowns per game less than it had the year before and a defense that gave up 21 points per game, OSU's most since 1999.
The offense is clearly better this year. The same can't necessarily be said for the "D."
23.9: The Bucks are giving up 23.9 points per game this season - and increase over last year - and still the most for them since allowing 23.92 per game in that aforementioned '99 season.
We'll get you ready for that showdown and the rest of the day's action (Big Ten scoreboard) starting at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday with the "Big Ten Football Pregame Show" presented by Auto-Owners Insurance. That leads up to the first of our three games on BTN/BTN2Go - as Indiana goes to Penn State.
See you then.
|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.|