Wednesday, December 7, 2022

CFB Week 6 Previews: Big Ten Conference

Inside The Big Ten Matchups

Sat., Oct. 9 @ 12:00 pm ET
Michigan State Spartans at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Michigan State Spartans
• After defeating Western Kentucky at Spartan Stadium last Saturday night to remain undefeated on the season at 5-0, Michigan State returns to Big Ten action at Rutgers on Saturday, Oct. 9 at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Kickoff is set for noon and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network, with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), James Laurinaitis (analyst) and Rick Pizzo (sideline) on the call.

• The Spartans jumped six spots to No. 11 in this week’s Associated Press Poll, the highest ranking for MSU in the AP Poll since 2018 (preseason, No. 11). MSU also moved up five spots to No. 11 in the USA TODAY/ AFCA Coaches Poll.

• Rutgers enters Saturday’s contest at 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights started the season 3-0 with nonconference victories over Temple, Syracuse and Delaware and have lost to Michigan and Ohio State the past two weeks in conference play.

• Michigan State is 5-0 for the first time since 2015 and for the 13th time overall in school history (1913, 1934, 1944, 1951, 1952, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1997, 1999, 2010, 2015, 2021). Mel Tucker is just the second coach in school history to begin his second season at MSU 5-0 (Charlie Bachman started 5-0 in 1934). The Spartans are looking to start 6-0 for the first time since 2015 and 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2017.

• Saturday’s game marks the 13th meeting between Michigan State and Rutgers. The Spartans lead the overall series, 8-4, including a 6-1 mark in Big Ten play. MSU is 4-1 against Rutgers in Piscataway, including a 3-0 record in Big Ten games. Last season, the Scarlet Knights beat the Spartans, 38-27, on Oct. 24 in Spartan Stadium in the 2020 season opener.

• Michigan State features two players leading the FBS in major statistical categories, as junior running back Kenneth Walker III is No. 1 in rushing (136.0 ypg) and redshirt junior Jayden Reed is No. 1 in all-purpose yards (176.6 ypg). In addition, Walker ranks among the nation’s leaders in scoring (fourth at 10.8 ppg), total touchdowns (fourth with 9), rushing TDs (sixth with 8), yards per carry (13th with 6.8 avg.) and all-purpose yards (16th with 139.4 ypg). Reed is tied for the FBS lead with two punt returns for touchdowns, which already ties a school single-season record; he returned back-to-back punts for scores with a game-tying 62-yarder in the fourth quarter vs. Nebraska and an 88-yarder on his first attempt vs. Western Kentucky, tying the fourth-longest punt return in MSU history.

• Saturday’s game marks the 13th meeting between Michigan State and Rutgers. The Spartans lead the overall series, 8-4, including a 6-1 mark in Big Ten play.

• MSU is 4-1 against Rutgers in Piscataway, including a 3-0 record in Big Ten games.

• Last season, the Scarlet Knights beat the Spartans, 38-27, on Oct. 24 in Spartan Stadium in the 2020 season opener.

• The Scarlet Knights are 3-2 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten action. After Rutgers started 3-0 with wins over Temple (61-14) on Sept. 4, Syracuse (17-7) on Sept. 11 and over Delaware (45-13) on Sept. 18, the Scarlet Knights lost at then-No. 19 Michigan (20-13), on Sept. 25, and at home to then-No. 11 Ohio State (52-13) on Oct. 2.

• Last time out, RU lost to OSU, as the Buckeyes scored on seven of their first eight possessions, only not scoring when the first half ended. The Scarlet Knights were outgained by the Buckeyes, 541-346 in total offense. Ohio State had 333 yards passing and 208 yards rushing, while Rutgers had 235 yards through the air and 111 yards on the ground.

• Senior quarterback Noah Vedral was 16-of-23 passing for 152 yards with one TD, but threw three interceptions. Vedral also had eight rushing attempts for 34 yards.

• Freshman running back Jamier Wright-Collins had four rushes for 38 yards. Senior wide receiver Brandon Sanders led RU’s receivers with seven catches for 47 yards, while junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank had three receptions for 102 yards, including a 75-yard TD pass play from Vedral.

• Senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi spearheaded the Scarlet Knight defense with 10 tackles and one pass break-up.

• For the season, RU is eighth in the B1G in both scoring offense (29.8 points per game) and scoring defense (21.2 ppg). Rutgers is 11th in total offense (350.2 ypg), ranking 10th in rushing offense (148.0 ypg) and eighth in passing offense (202.2 ypg). The Scarlet Knight defense is seventh in total defense (316.2 ypg), ranking 11th in rushing defense (131.8 ypg) and fourth in pass defense (186.6 ypg).

• Vedral is 92-of-138 passing for 914 yards, with six TDs and three INTs, ranking tied for fourth in the Big Ten in passing percentage (.667), as well as 10th in passing yards/game (182.8 ypg), tied for seventh in TDs and eighth in total passing yards. He is also second on the team in rushing with 41 rushes for 151 yards (3.7 ypc/30.2 ypg).

• Senior wide receiver Bo Melton is RU’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 253 yards (10.5 ypc/50.6 ypg) with two TDs, while Cruickshank has 17 receptions for 206 yards (12.12 ypc/41.2 ypg) with one TD.

• Junior running back Isaih Pacheco leads Rutgers in rushing with 71 carries for 267 yards (3.8 ypc/53.4 ypg) with three TDs.

• Fatukasi tops RU’s defense, tallying 49 tackles, ranking second in the Big Ten in tackles/game (9.8), as well as third in the league in total tackles, with nearly as many solo stops (27), as the next leading defender (29 total tackles). Fatukasi also has 22 assists, along with 6.5 tackles for loss, with 3.5 sacks, adding one pass break-up and one forced fumble. He’s tied for third in the Big Ten with 1.3 TFL/game, while ranking tied for fourth in total TFL.

• Junior placekicker Valentino Ambrosio is 5-of-7 on FGs (71.4 percent) with a long of 40 yards, and is 18-of19 on PATs. Ambrosio also handles kickoffs, and has 29 kickoffs for a 61.0 ypk average with 11 touchbacks.

• Senior punter Adam Korsak has 20 punts for a 49.3 ypp average with a long of 69-yards, one of nine of 50+ yards, with 10 inside the 20. Korsak is second in the Big Ten and fifth in the FBS in punting.

• Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano is in his second season back as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach, previously coaching there from 2001-11. He has a 74-75 total record in his 13th overall.

Overall: 8-4
H: 4-3; A: 4-1
1988 L 13-17 H
1990 W 34-10 A
1991 L 7-14 H
2003 W 44-28 H
2004 L 14-19 A
2014 W 45-3 H
2015 W 31-24 A
2016 W 49-0 H
2017 W 40-7 A
2018 W 14-10 H
2019 W 27-0 A
2020 L 27-38 H

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
All-Time: Michigan State leads, 8-4
In New Jersey: Michigan State leads, 4-1
Last Meeting: Oct. 24, 2020
Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27 (East Lansing)

• For the second time in program history, Rutgers takes on its third-straight ranked opponent in hosting No. 11 Michigan State Saturday at SHI Stadium. The game is presented by RWJBarnabas Health. It will be the 87th Homecoming game.

• Rutgers ranks first nationally in both fewest penalties against per game (3.6) and net punt (47.7).

• Rutgers has not surrendered a point in the fourth quarter this season.

• Head coach Greg Schiano is tied for second in program history with 74 wins leading the Scarlet Knights. Frank Burns holds the record with 78 victories.

• Rutgers is set to take on Michigan State for the eighth time in a Big Ten game, sixth time in New Jersey and 13th time overall. The Spartans lead the series, 8-4, but the Scarlet Knights are 2-1 in games under Schiano.

• In the season opener last year in East Lansing, Rutgers put together a 75-yard touchdown drive on the first possession and forced a fumble on its first defensive play on the way to a wire-to-wire 38-27 win in the return of Schiano as head coach. RU forced seven turnovers in the road victory.

• Two of the signature victories in school history for the Scarlet Knights have come against Michigan State. Rutgers opened the 1988 campaign with a 17-13 victory over the 15th-ranked and defending Rose Bowl-champion Spartans at Spartan Stadium. In the win, Eric Young caught nine passes for 124 yards, including the game’s first touchdown on a 61-yard pass from Scott Erney. In front of an ABC television audience and a sellout crowd at Rutgers Stadium, Rutgers stopped Michigan State, 19-14, to start the 2004 season. Jeremy Ito connected on four field goals, Brian Leonard rushed for 150 yards and Ryan Neill returned an interception 31 yards for a score in the win. RU held the ball for 40:14, the second-highest time of possession for the Scarlet Knights in the Schiano era.

• Rutgers game highs versus Michigan State: Rushing Yards: Brian Leonard, 150 (2004) Passing Yards: Ryan Hart, 266 (2003) Receiving Yards: Leonte Carroo, 134 (2015)

• Rutgers is set to face its third-straight ranked opponent. The only other time in program history the Scarlet Knights squared off with a ranked opponent in three consecutive games was in 2007 (No. 2 USF, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 16 Connecticut).

• Since 1977, the Scarlet Knights have played at least one team appearing in the AP poll every season except 2012.

• Saturday’s game marks the 25th contest for Rutgers against a ranked Big Ten opponent since the beginning of the 2014 season.

• The Scarlet Knights own nine victories over AP-ranked opponents, including four under Schiano.
11/2/46 at No. 17 Harvard, 13-0
11/3/79 at No. 17 Tennessee, 13-7
11/10/84 vs. No. 19 West Virginia, 23-19
9/10/88 at No. 15 Michigan State, 17-13
9/24/88 at No. 15 Penn State, 21-16
11/9/06 vs. No. 3 Louisville, 28-25
10/18/07 vs. No. 2 USF, 30-27
10/25/08 at No. 17 Pittsburgh, 54-34
11/12/09 vs. No. 23 USF, 31-0

• Rutgers is set to host its 87th annual Homecoming game and is 53-32-1. The event has been held every season since 1933, except 1943 and 2020.

• Homecoming also marks the Rutgers Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Eric LeGrand (football), Essence Carson (women’s basketball), Jonelle Filigno-Hopkins (women’s soccer), Alexis Gunzelman (women’s gymnastics) and James Ford (men’s lacrosse) make up the class.

• Michigan State will make the 40th different Homecoming opponent for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have faced Lehigh the most (13), followed by Lafayette (7), Columbia (6), Colgate (5) and Temple (5).

• Rutgers has scored 59 points twice in the game (2007 vs. Norfolk State and 2000 vs. Buffalo) and also reached 50 in 1992 after the Scarlet Knights overcame in 28-7 deficit, with Chris Brantley recording his school-record fourth receiving touchdown as time expired in a memorable 50-49 triumph over Virginia Tech. Malik Jackson matched the program record with three interceptions in the contest played on Halloween.

• The longest consecutive streak of Homecoming victories was seven (1958-64).

• The largest attendance in school history on Homecoming was Rutgers’ 2014 game versus Wisconsin with an official attendance of 52,797.

• Rutgers once play back-to-back Homecoming games, ending the 1938 season by beating Lafayette before opening 1939 with a win against Wesleyan.


Sat., Oct. 9 @ 12:00 pm ET
Maryland Terrapins at Ohio State Buckeyes

Maryland Terrapins


• RB Tayon Fleet-Davis has scored a touchdown in each of the last two games against Ohio State, a 12-yard run in 2019 and a one-yard run in overtime of the 2018 game.

• Current Terps WR Dontay Demus Jr., WR Jeshaun Jones and TE Chigoziem Okonkwo have all scored a touchdown against the Buckeyes in their career.

• S Nick Cross totaled his career-high with nine tackles (six solo) in Maryland’s 2019 matchup with Ohio State.

• In the 2018 contest between Maryland and Ohio State, RB Anthony McFarland Jr. rushed for 298 yards and two touchdowns, the second-most rushing yards ever in a game by a Terp.

1 – The University of Maryland football team will travel to No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday, Oct. 9. The game is set to kick at Noon and will be broadcast on FOX and the Maryland Sports Radio Network.

5 – In his time as a Terp beginning in 2020, QB Taulia Tagovailoa has averaged 278.7 passing yards per game, the fifth-highest over that time span of any Power Five quarterback playing in 2021 and the most in the Big Ten. Tagovailoa, who has totaled 2,506 yards in nine games as a Terp, trails only Ole Miss’ Matt Corral (325.4 per game), UNC’s Sam Howell (298.8 per game), Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett (295.6 per game) and Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong (292.1 per game). Tagovailoa is 13th in the country and second in the Big Ten, averaging 299.4 passing yards per game this season and is on pace to set the all-time Maryland record for passing yards in a season (Scott Milanovich, 3,499 in 1993).

8 – Maryland ranks eighth in the country and second in the Big Ten with 18 sacks through five games, an average of 3.60 per game. The Terps are one of only two teams in the Big Ten to have at least two sacks in each game of the season (Michigan State) and have tallied 13 over the last three weeks with six against Illinois (9/17), five against Kent State (9/25) and two against #5 Iowa (10/1). Those 18 sacks have been for a loss of 146 yards, the second-most sack yards in the country, only trailing Pittsburgh’s 154. Maryland’s 18 sacks are the most through the first four games of a season since totaling 20 in 2016.

9 – DL Sam Okuayinonu has been a constant presence in opponents backfields this season, standing ninth in the country and second in the Big Ten (trailing only AP Preseason All-American Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan) with five sacks this season. The graduate student has secured a sack in four of five games this season with a career-best two in the win at Illinois (9/17). Okuayinonu’s five sacks have been for a loss of 45 yards, the third-most in the country and the most in the Big Ten. All of Okuayinonu’s sacks have been solo sacks, giving him the third-most solo sacks in the nation and the most of any Power Five player, tied with seven others. Okuayinonu’s five sacks are the most in the first five games of a season by a Terp since Jesse Aniebonam had 5.5 in 2016.

11 – WR Dontay Demus Jr. has had an incredible senior season, leading the Big Ten and standing 11th in the country with 507 receiving yards, an average of 101.4 yards per game, the 14th-best rate in the country. Demus Jr. has caught a pass in 27 straight games, dating back to October 27, 2018, tied for the 10th-longest streak in the country and fourth-longest in the Big Ten. The Biletnikoff Award Watch List nominee is also third in the Big Ten in both receptions per game (5.6) and sixth in touchdowns (three). Demus Jr. stands sixth all-time in program history with 13 career touchdowns, tied with Darrius HeywardBey (2006-08) and Guilian Gary (1998-2001). The senior also stands eighth all-time in program history with 1,775 career receiving yards and is tied for second all-time in career 100-yard receiving games with seven with Vernon Davis (2003-05) and WR Torrey Smith (2007-10), only trailing program all-time leading receiver Jermaine Lewis (1992-95).

Ohio State Buckeyes

• Ohio State will host the Maryland Terrapins in a 12:05 p.m. game Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

• The game will be the 99th Homecoming game in school history. Ohio State is 73-19-5 in Homecoming games, a won-loss mark that does not include the 2010 win.

• The Buckeyes are 6-0 all-time against Maryland; 3-0 at Ohio Stadium and 3-0 in College Park.

• The two Big Ten East Division rivals did not play as scheduled in College Park, Md., in 2020. The game was one of three Ohio State games cancelled the week of the game because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Ohio State is averaging 58.3 points per game in its six meetings against Maryland while the Terrapins have been swinging right back offensively with 22.3 points per contest, including 51 in a double overtime affair in 2018.

• Secondary coach Matt Barnes, who also calls the defensive signals for the Buckeyes, was Maryland’s special team’s coordinator/ linebackers coach for three years (2016-18).

• Ohio State DL coach Larry Johnson was a high school coach for 19 years in the DMV area.


• Ohio State enters its Homecoming game this week with a 4-1 overall record and 2-0 mark in the Big Ten. Both of its conference wins have come on the road.

• The Buckeyes are averaging 50.6 points in the last three games and are giving up just 13.6.

• Over the last two games – in wins over Akron and Rutgers – Ohio State’s defense is surrendering 287.5 yards per game and has given up just three touchdowns.

• Ohio State’s defense has improved by 49 positions in scoring defense and by 34 in total offense the past two weekends.

• The Buckeyes have not allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 2 against Oregon and are allowing just 86.6 yards per game on the ground over the last three games.

• SAF Ronnie Hickman continues to be one of Ohio State’s most consistent performers on defense. His 11-tackle performance on Saturday gives him a team-best 44 total stops for the season. Hickman has registered double figures in tackles in three of the Buckeyes’ five games.

• Hickman is one of only three players in the country to have at least 44 total tackles AND multiple interceptions this season.

• On the other side of the ball, Ohio State’s offense ranks fourth in points per game (45.0), eighth in passing (336.2 yards/ game) and first in yards per game (555.6).

• Redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud is sixth nationally – and first among freshmen – in passer rating at 181.8 and he is 10th in TD passes (13).

• Stroud also leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game (323.3), quarterback rating and TD passes.

• His five touchdown passes last week at Rutgers were the most ever by a freshman in a Big Ten game.

• Ohio State has won 20 consecutive Big Ten Conference games. This is the longest streak in the Big Ten since Ohio State’s national-record 30-game conference winning streak from 2013-15.

• Coach Ryan Day’s teams are 17-0 in Big Ten Conference play.

• Jeremy Rucket’s 19-yard touchdown reception last week at Rutgers gives him 10 for his career, which ties him with John Lumpkin (1996-98) for the second-most among tight ends. Jake Stoneburner holds the record with 13.

• Seven players scored vs. Rutgers, including a touchdown for TE Mitch Rossi on his first career reception.

• That “pick-6” for Denzel Burke: his first at any level of competition.

• Burke is T7th nationally with seven passes defended (6 PBUs and 1 INT).

• Ohio State’s defense is second nationally in passes defended (38; 31 PBUs nd 7 INTs).

• On the strength of a season’s-best three turnovers forced vs. Rutgers (INTs by Burke, Tommy Eichenberg and Ryan Watts), Ohio State is T25th nationally in TO margin at .80 per game.

• Ohio State’s record for consecutive games with 500-or-more yards of total offense: six in 2017 and 2020.

• Ohio State’s record for “pick-6’s” in a season: 7 in 2016.

• Haskell Garrett’s three QB sacks vs. Akron are tied for seventh in school history. The record is 4.0 by a handful of players, including Chase Young (2019 vs. Wisconsin).

• Frosh DT Tyliek Williams has now registered a QB sack in three consecutive games.

• Kicker Noah Ruggles has converted on 14 consecutive FGAs inside of 50 yards.

• The Terrapins got off to a 4-0 start before suffering a loss last Friday night at home to No. 3 Iowa.

• Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa leads the Big Ten in completion percentage, connecting on 72.2 percent of his passes for 1,497 yards and 12 touchdowns.

• His two favorite targets have been Dontay Demus Jr., who has caught 28 passes for 507 yards, and Rakim Jarrett, who has 21 receptions for 276 yards and four TDs.

• Tayon Fleet-Davis is Maryland’s top threat at running back. He’s averaging 7.0 yards per carry (47 attempts, 331 yards) and has scored four times.

• Three Terrapin defensive backs have 20-plus tackles so far: Jordan Mosley (24), Nick Cross (22 and two interceptions) and Tarheeb Still (21 tackles and one sack).

• Head coach Mike Locksley is in his third full season leading Maryland. He also served as the team’s interim head coach during the final six games of the 2015 season. Locksley has a 10-18 record in College Park and 12-44 mark overall in his seventh season as a head coach.

Sat., Oct. 9 @ 2:30 pm CT
Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini

Wisconsin Badgers

• Wisconsin (1-2, 0-2 Big Ten) opens divisional play by heading to Champaign to take on West Division foe Illinois (2-4, 1-2) Saturday in a game that will kick off at 2:30 p.m. (CT) and air live on Big Ten Network.

• The Badgers look to get back on track after suffering consecutive losses for just the fifth time in seven seasons under head coach Paul Chryst.

• Since the Big Ten went to its current divisional format in 2014, the Badgers have posted a 32-8 (.800) record vs. its fellow members of the West Division, including a 6-1 mark vs. Illinois. UW posted a 45-7 win over the Fighting Illini in the teams’ 2020 season opener.

• With Bret Bielema in his first season at the helm of the Illinois program, Saturday’s game marks the first time a former UW head football coach will face the Badgers as the head coach of an opposing team

• Wisconsin has won 10 of its last 11 meetings with the Fighting Illini, dating to 2008.

• Illinois snapped Wisconsin’s 9-game win streak in the series with a 24-23 win in the teams’ last meeting in Champaign in 2019.

• Wisconsin’s 9 straight wins over Illinois from 2008 to 2018 marked the longest win streak by either team in the history of the series. The previous mark of 6 came when the Illini won 6 straight over UW from 1987-92.

• Since the Illini’s 6-game win streak ended with a 35-10 Badgers victory in 1993, Wisconsin owns a 19-4-1 (.792) record against Illinois.

• Wisconsin and Illinois played in the final tie game in FBS history, closing the 1995 season with a 3-3 draw on Nov. 25 in Madison. Overtime was introduced the following season.

• The Badgers are in their 7th season under head coach Paul Chryst, who is 57-22 (.722) as head coach at his alma mater. The two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year
has led the Badgers to a 37-15 (.712) conference record and a 5-1 mark in bowl games. Chryst is in his 16th season overall on the Badgers’ coaching staff.

• Jim Leonhard is back for a 5th season as defensive coordinator, and 6th season on the coaching staff overall, at his alma mater. Under Leonhard — an All-America safety during his playing days at UW — the Badgers have continued their run as one of the nation’s most consistently high-performing defenses. Over Leonhard’s first 5 seasons on staff, Wisconsin has ranked among the nation’s top 5 units in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing efficiency defense.

• Wisconsin is the only FBS program to face 3 opponents ranked in the top 20 of the AP poll its first 4 games this season. In Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan — all now ranked in the AP’s top 15 — UW faced 3 ranked opponents in its first 4 games for just the third time in school history.

• Wisconsin has won 10 of its last 11 meetings with the Fighting Illini, dating to 2008. Since 2003, the Badgers have left Memorial Stadium with a win in 6 of their last 8 trips to Champaign.

• Wisconsin leads the FBS in rushing defense, allowing an average of just 45.3 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers also lead the country in fewest rushing yards allowed per attempt, at 1.6 yards per carry. In their other games this season, UW’s four opponents (Penn State, Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan) have averaged 178.9 rushing yards per game and 4.4 rushing yards per attempt.

• Wisconsin ranks third in the nation and leads the Big Ten in total defense, allowing just 249.0 yards per game. The Badgers also rank seventh in the country, allowing just 4.3 yards per play.

• TE Jake Ferguson has caught at least 1 pass in each of his 38 career games. With a catch Saturday vs. Michigan, Ferguson would surpass WR Lee Evans’ school record of 38 consecutive games with a reception (1999-2003)

• In then-No. 19 Penn State, then-No. 12 Notre Dame and then-No. 14 Michigan, the Badgers faced a ranked opponent in 3 of their first 4 games this season.

• Wisconsin joined UNLV, which faced No. 23 Arizona State, No. 14 Iowa State and No. 22 Fresno State, as the only FBS programs to play 3 ranked opponents in the span of their first 4 games this season.

• The Badgers are the only FBS team to face 3 top-20 opponents in their first 4 games.

• Each of the Badgers’ ranked opponents this season is now ranked among the top 15 of the latest edition of the AP poll: No. 4 Penn State, No. 9 Michigan and No. 14 Notre Dame.

• Iowa, currently ranked No. 3, is the lone remaining team on the Badgers’ schedule that is currently ranked. The Badgers and Hawkeyes’ annual battle for the Heartland Trophy is set for Oct. 30 in Madison.

• This marks just the 3rd time in school history that Wisconsin has faced 3 teams ranked in the Associated Press poll in its first 4 games of a season. It happened previously to head coach Ivy Williamson’s squad in 1955 and coach Milt Bruhn’s 1958 Big Ten runner-up team:

Illinois Fighting Illini

• The University of Illinois hosts its 111th Homecoming this week and its first with public ticket sales since the 2019 upset victory over No. 6 Wisconsin. Full

Ground Game
• Illinois had two record-book worthy performances from running backs in the last two weeks with Chase Brown rushing for 257 yards against Charlotte and Josh McCray going for 156 at Purdue.

• Brown rushed for a career-high 257 yards and tied his career-high with two rushing touchdowns, giving him three TDs on the season and five for his career. Brown’s 257 yards are the fourth-most in a single game in program history.

• Brown’s 257 yards were the third-most by a running back in college football this season. Only Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson (277 vs. Tulsa) and Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III (264 vs. Northwestern) have had more in a game this season.

• Brown’s 257 yards were the most by a RB coached by Bret Bielema in his 13 years as a head coach.

• Brown’s first TD against Charlotte gave the Illini a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. He carried the ball six times for 72 yards on the drive which covered 94 yards overall, Illinois’ longest drive of the season by yards.

• Brown’s second TD against Charlotte, an 80-yard score, came on the first play of the ensuing Illini possession and gave Illinois a 24-14 lead as time expired in the third quarter. The 80-yard scoring run tied for the 10th-longest run in Illinois program history.

• Josh McCray ran for a career-best 156 yards on 24 carries against Purdue 9/25/21. It was the fifth-most rushing yards by a true freshman in program history, and the most by a true freshman running back since Ke’Shawn Vaughn recorded 180 yards at Purdue 11/7/2015.

• McCray had 150 yards after contact at Purdue according to PFF, the most yards after contact in college football in Week 4 and tied for the eighth-most yards after contact in a game this season.

• McCray’s 156 rushing yards at Purdue were the second most by a true freshman this season (Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson, 277 vs. Tulsa).

• McCray’s 156 rushing yards at Purdue are the most by a true freshman in a road game this year and the second most by any freshman in a road game (Memphis’ Brandon Thomas, 191 at Arkansas State).

• McCray became the first true freshman to start at running back for the Illini since Ra’Von Bonner at Minnesota 10/21/2017. Bonner and Mike Epstein each started three games as true freshmen during the 2017 season.

• Illinois is one of five FBS teams to have two different players rush for over 150 yards in a game this season (Georgia Southern, Michigan, Minnesota, Tulsa). Defense Steps Up

• Illinois has held opponents to 20 points or fewer in three straight games for the first time since starting the 2011 season with four straight games allowing 20 points or fewer. Last year’s season
low was 20 points allowed vs. Rutgers.

• Illinois has missed two of its top defenders in the last two games due to injuries: LB Jake Hansen and DB Devon Witherspoon.

• Illinois is fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten in fumbles recovered (7).

• Illinois is 12th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in takeaways (12).

• Illinois is 15th in the nation and third in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+1.0).


Offensive Line Notes
• Doug Kramer is the No. 7 graded center in the nation according to PFF (75.8) (min. 200 snaps). Kramer has the No. 4 run blocking grade in the nation among centers (78.0).

• Vederian Lowe is the No. 26 graded tackle in the nation according to PFF (77.8) (min. 200 snaps). Lowe was the highest graded offensive lineman in the nation in Week 5 against Charlotte (93.7).

• Alex Palczewski is the No. 40 graded tackle in the nation according to PFF (74.9) (min. 200 snaps). Palczewski has the No. 8 run blocking grade in the nation among tackles (83.8).

• Julian Pearl is the No. 41 graded guard in the nation according to PFF (71.0) (min. 200 snaps).

• Illinois has the No. 6 team run-blocking grade in the nation according to PFF (82.4). Ohio State is the only Big Ten team graded ahead of Illinois in run blocking (1st, 86.5).

Sat., Oct. 9 @ 3:00 pm CT
Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes

Penn State Nittany Lions

• OPENING KICK: No. 4/4 Penn State goes on the road to take on No. 3/3 Iowa on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET on FOX. The 2021 season is presented by PSECU.

• SERIES HISTORY: The Nittany Lions will meet Iowa for the 31st matchup. Penn State holds a 17-13 advantage in the series. Three of the last four meetings have been decided by one-score. Penn State had a six-game win streak in the series from 2011-19, but fell 41-21 in last year’s matchup at Beaver Stadium.

• TOP FIVE MATCHUP:Saturday’s game will be the 11th game in program history with both teams ranked among the Top Five of the AP Poll and the Nittany Lions’ first since 1999, when No. 3 Penn State earned a 41-7 win over No. 4 Arizona. It’s also Penn State’s first Top Five matchup against a Big Ten opponent since 1997 vs. Michigan (No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 4 Michigan).

• NATION’S BEST SCORING DEFENSES MEET: The Penn State-Iowa matchup will feature two of the top three scoring defenses in the nation. The Nittany Lions rank third in the country, allowing 12.0 points per game. Iowa sits second in the country, giving up 11.6 points per game.

• PITCHING A SHUTOUT: The Nittany Lions held Indiana scoreless last Saturday. It marked Penn State’s sixth shutout since 2014 and its fourth against a Big Ten opponent. Penn State handed Indiana its first shutout loss in 246 games (2000 vs. Michigan). The blue and white earned its first shutout against a Big Ten opponent since 2019 at Maryland and its first home Big Ten shutout since 2015 vs. Illinois.

• STRONG IN THE RED ZONE: Penn State ranks second in the nation and leads the Big Ten allowing a 53.3 conversion rate in the red zone. Penn State held Indiana without a score in both of the Hoosiers’ trips into the red zone. In the first quarter, the Nittany Lions stopped Indiana on fourth-and-one from the Penn State 4 yard-line. In the third quarter, Penn State blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt. Opponents have been held without a score in 7-of-15 trips into the red zone this season.

• THE OPPOSITION: Iowa is 5-0 this season and coming off a 51-14 win over Maryland last Friday. Spencer Petras threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns. The Hawkeyes held the Terrapins to 271 yards and forced seven takeaways, including six interceptions.

• Penn State is 4-6 all-time in matchups where both teams are ranked in the Top 5 of the AP Poll.

• The Nittany Lions have played in six more matchups in bowl games and Penn State is 2-3-1 in those games.

• Penn State is 17-54-1 all-time against Top 5 teams, including a 15-49 record in regular season matchups.

• When ranked among the Top 5, Penn State has an all-time record of 101-22-1.

• Penn State’s all-time Top 5 vs. Top 5 games:
Date PSU Rank Opponent Score
11/4/78 No. 2 No. 5 Maryland W, 27-3
11/28/80 No. 5 No. 4 Pittsburgh L, 14-9
10/9/82 No. 3 at No. 4 Alabama L, 42-21
11/26/82 No. 2 No. 5 Pittsburgh W, 19-10
8/29/83 No. 4 vs. No. 1 Nebraska L, 44-6
9/29/84 No. 4 vs. No. 2 Texas L, 28-3
10/15/94 No. 3 at No. 5 Michigan W, 31-24
10/5/96 No. 4 at No. 3 Ohio State L, 38-7
11/8/97 No. 2 No. 4 Michigan L, 34-8
8/28/99 No. 3 No. 4 Arizona W, 41-7

• Penn State is off to a 5-0 start for the 29th time in program history.

• The Nittany Lions have reached the 5-0 mark for the third time in the James Franklin era, joining 2017 and 2019.

• Penn State is seeking its 23rd 6-0 start in school history.

• The Nittany Lions are the first team since Tennessee in 1989 to start 5-0 after starting the previous season 0-5, according to ESPN

• Penn State is 34-13 in the Big Ten since 2016.

• PSU won 13 consecutive games against Big Ten opponents from 2016-17, breaking its record of 12 from 1993-94.

• Penn State owns a 228-110-3 mark against Big Ten Conference teams since the Nittany Lions first opposed Ohio State in 1912.

• The Nittany Lions began play as a member of the Big Ten Conference in 1993 and have a 145-86 mark.

• Penn State played 109 games vs. the current Big Ten alignment when either or both Penn State itself (prior to 1993) or the opponent (Nebraska prior to 2011; Maryland and Rutgers prior to 2014) was not yet a member of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions went 80-26-3 in those games.

• The Nittany Lions improved to 19-10 in Big Ten home openers.

• Penn State recorded its first shutout both overall and in a Big Ten game since a 59-0 win over Maryland in 2019.

• Penn State handed Indiana its first shutout since a 2000 loss to Michigan (58-0), a span of 246 games.

• Penn State scored on a 9-play, 96-yard drive in the second quarter. It is Penn State’s longest drive, by yards, this season.

• With two touchdowns in the game, QB Sean Clifford and WR Jahan Dotson connected for the 18th time on TD scores, passing Todd Blackledge and Kenny Jackson (1980-82) for the most by a Penn State QB-WR duo in program history.

• With a stop on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter and a blocked field goal in the third quarter, the Nittany Lions have held their opponent without a score for seven times in 15 redzone possessions.

• The Nittany Lions blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. It was Penn State’s second blocked field goal of the season. It marks the first time Penn State has blocked two or more field goals in a season since 2004 (five blocked field goals)

• Penn State has won 14 consecutive games against teams that are not members of a Power Five conference.

• Penn State has won 13 consecutive games over non-conference opponents during the regular season, dating back to a win over Temple in 2016.

• Penn State has won 19-straight non-conference home games, dating back to a win over Kent State in 2013.

• Penn State is annually one of the most watched teams in college football.

• Penn State’s win over Auburn, on ABC, drew an audience of 7.606 million viewers.

• It was the second-highest viewed game on September 18 and the sixth-highest viewed game of the 2021 season.

• The Nittany Lions’ opening week win over Wisconsin, on FOX, drew an audience of 5.409 million viewers.

• The Wisconsin game was the third-highest viewed game on September 4.

• The 2021 season marks the 21st-straight with at least one regular-season night game on the schedule.

• Penn State is 57-32 at night all-time. The figure breaks down to 18-11 at home, 27-14 on the road and 12-7 in neutral site games. Penn State is 1-1 at regular season neutral sites, 11-6 in bowl games and 1-0 in conference championship games.

• In 2019, Penn State played its most regular season night games in program history with four primetime tilts.

• On Oct. 12, 2013, the Lions claimed the longest game in Big Ten history when they edged Michigan under the lights, 43-40, in four overtimes in front of a sellout Beaver Stadium crowd of 107,844 on Homecoming.

Iowa Hawkeyes

1- The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 3 in the AP and Coaches polls, their highest ranking since Nov. 22, 2015 (#3). Iowa has two wins over ranked opponents (vs. #17 Indiana, 34-6; at #9 Iowa State, 27-17) this season and has won fi ve straight against ranked opponents overall. Only Alabama (9) has more consecutive wins over ranked opponents.

2 – Iowa and Penn State are meeting for the sixth Ɵ me as ranked opponents, the third time in the last four years. The top five matchup is the sixth top-five matchup in Iowa football history, and the first at Kinnick Stadium since No. 1 Iowa defeated No. 2 Michigan, 12-10, in 1985

3- Iowa has won its last 11 games. The Hawkeyes have outscored their last 11 opponents, 380-141, averaging 34.5 points per game offensively and allowing 12.8 ppg during the winning streak.

4 – Iowa has won eight straight games against Big Ten opponents (2020-21) for the fourth Ɵ me in program history. Iowa won 10 straight from 2001-02, eight straight from 2008-09 and eight straight in 2015

5 – Iowa has won 11 straight for the first time since opening the 2015 season with 12 straight wins. Iowa reached the Big Ten Championship game that season and accepted an invitation to the 2016 Rose Bowl game.

6 -Iowa leads the country with 12 INTs. The Hawkeyes have 76 INTs since 2017, more than any team in the country. Six different Hawkeyes intercepted a pass in Iowa’s 51-14 win at Maryland, tying a school record for most players with an interception in a single game (vs. Wisconsin, 1982).

7 – DB Riley Moss leads the Big Ten with three interceptions and leads the country with two interceptions returned for touchdowns (30, 55), both in Week 1. Iowa has turned 16 turnovers into 75 points in 2021. The Hawkeyes’ defense has scored 20 points (2 int. return TDs, one fumble return TD and 1 safety).

8 – QB Spencer Petras has led Iowa to 11 consecutive wins. Petras is 177-293 with 2,031 passing yards during Iowa’s 11-game winning streak. He has thrown 15 TDs and three INTs over the last 11 games. Petras is 11-2 as Iowa’s starting QB, matching the best winning percentage by a starting QB in program history (Brad Banks, 11-2, .846).

9 – K Caleb Shudak has connected on 8-of-9 field goal attempts and is good on all 20 PAT tries. His only miss was the result of a bad snap. He connected on career highs in field goals (3) and extra points (6) in Iowa’s win at Maryland. He has a team-high 44 points, Ɵ ed for eighth in the Big Ten. Shudak has 18 touchbacks on 31 kickoff s.

10 – LB Jack Campbell ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 46 tackles. He had a career-high 18 tackles in Iowa’s Week 4 win against Colorado State, earning B1G Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Iowa finished the 2020 season with six straight wins and opened the 2021 season with five consecutive wins. The Hawkeyes have outscored their last 11 opponents, 380-141, averaging 34.5 points per game offensively and allowing 12.8 ppg during the winning streak. Iowa has won 11 straight for the first time since opening the 2015 season with 12 straight wins. Iowa reached the Big Ten Championship game that season and accepted an invitation to the 2016 Rose Bowl game.

Iowa has won eight straight games against Big Ten opponents (2020-21) for the fourth time in program history. Iowa won 10 straight from 2001-02, eight straight from 2008-09 and eight straight in 2015.

Iowa opened the season with five straight wins for the third Ɵ me in the Kirk Ferentz era. Iowa started 9-0 in 2009 and 12-0 in 2015.

Sat., Oct. 9 @ 6:30 pm CT
Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Michigan Wolverines

No release given

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska completes a two-game prime-time homestand this Saturday when the Huskers play host to Michigan at Memorial Stadium. The meeting between two of the most tradition-rich programs in college football is set to kick off shortly after 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ABC and can be heard on the Huskers Radio Network.

Nebraska stands at 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in Big Ten Conference play after a dominant 56-7 victory over Northwestern on Saturday night. Nebraska scored its most points in 11 seasons of Big Ten Conference play, while also posting its largest margin of victory in a league game in 20 seasons. Nebraska’s offense rolled up better than 600 yards for the second time this season, becoming the first team to record 600 yards of total offense against Northwestern in 16 seasons.

Michigan comes into the game with a perfect 5-0 record and a 2-0 mark in the Big Ten following a 38-17 victory at Wisconsin on Saturday. Michigan is ranked ninth in the Associated Press Poll and eighth in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Wolverines controlled the matchup with Wisconsin from the outset, and pulled away with 28 unanswered points in the second half. Michigan held Wisconsin to just 43 rushing yards and 210 total yards, while forcing three Badger turnovers.

Coach Jim Harbaugh’s team is among the nation’s best running teams. Michigan averages 255.0 yards per game on the ground to lead the Big Ten and rank seventh nationally. Defensively, the Wolverines allow just 12.8 points per game and 285.8 total yards per game and have held each of their five opponents to 17 points or less.

Saturday night’s matchup at Memorial Stadium marks Michigan’s first visit to Lincoln since 2012.


Saturday’s matchup between Nebraska and Michigan will be the 11th all-time matchup between the two schools, with Michigan owning a 5-4-1 advantage. The teams have split four games since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011.

• Saturday’s meeting will be Michigan’s first visit to Lincoln since 2012, when unranked Nebraska defeated No. 20 Michigan, 23-9, in a prime-time matchup at Memorial Stadium.

• This will be just the third meeting between the schools in Lincoln, with schools playing to a tie in a matchup in 1911.

• While the schools met just four times in Nebraska’s first 10 years in the Big Ten, Nebraska and Michigan are set to meet each year from 2021 to 2025.

• Before Nebraska’s entry into the Big Ten, the teams played just twice between 1962 and 2011, splitting a pair of bowl matchups. Michigan won 27-23 in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, while Nebraska earned a four-point win in the 2005 Alamo Bowl.

Nebraska and Michigan are two of just eight schools in college football history to win 900 or more games, with Michigan ranking first in all-time victories (969) and Nebraska seventh (908). This marks the fourth time in the past three seasons that Nebraska has played in a game matching two programs with 900 or more victories. Nebraska’s games with Ohio State in 2019 and 2020, and its trip to Oklahoma on Sept. 18, 2021, also matched 900-win programs.

• Nebraska and Michigan have combined to win 16 national championships, including sharing the 1997 national title. The schools have also combined to win 88 conference titles, including 46 by Nebraska and 42 by Michigan, and have made 101 combined bowl appearances.

Nebraska Category Michigan
908 All-Time Wins 969
5 National Championships 11
46 Conference Championships 42
53 Bowl Appearances 48
3 Heisman Trophy Winners 3
110 All-Americans 131
27 10-Win Seasons 29

Michigan enters Saturday night’s game ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 8 in the Coaches Poll. Michigan will be the third nationally ranked opponent for Nebraska in the past four games, joining Oklahoma (No. 3) and Michigan State (No. 20). Nebraska also has remaining games scheduled against AP No. 3 Iowa and seventh-ranked Ohio State.

• This marks the first time Nebraska has faced three ranked opponents in a four-game span in the same season since 2011, when NU played against ranked opponents (at Penn State, at Michigan) in two of the final three regular-season games and played No. 10 South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

• Nebraska also played ranked opponents three times in a four-game stretch spanning the end of the 2019 season and the 2020 season opener at Ohio State.

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