Big Ten Conference News: Weekly Football Release

Mon, Sep 20, 2021

BIG TEN FOOTBALL RELEASE – WEEK 4 STANDINGS | SCHEDULE

• Week 4 of the 2021 Big Ten season features 11 games, highlighted by a trio conference matchups on Saturday. Michigan and Purdue will host divisional foes Rutgers and Illinois, respectively, while Michigan State welcomes Nebraska. The complete schedule appears to the right.

• Six Big Ten teams remain undefeated on the season, as Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Rutgers are all 3-0.

• Six Big Ten teams appear in the AP Poll this week. Iowa leads the conference at No. 5, followed by No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Michigan, and No. 20 Michigan State, while Maryland received votes.

• The Big Ten currently features five programs that rank among the top 25 nationally in rushing offense: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Wolverines lead the nation, averaging 350.3 yards per game, while the Badgers rank 10th (266.0), the Spartans sit at No. 11 (263.7), the Gophers check in at No. 24 (218.3) and the Buckeyes round out the list at No. 25 (217.3).

• Michigan currently ranks among the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Wolverines rank No. 3 nationally in scoring offense averaging 47.0 points per contest, while ranking eighth in scoring defense, allowing just 11.3 points per contest.

• Michigan State earned its first win over Miami in the five-game series history on Saturday to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2015. Sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne completed 18 of 31 attempts (.581 pct.) for 261 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Spartans to a 38-17 win over No. 24 Miami. Thorne joined Connor Cook (2015 vs. Indiana and Nebraska) as the only quarterbacks in Michigan State history to throw four touchdowns in back-to-back games.

• Dating back to his time at Colorado, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker has won five games against ranked foes in his three seasons as a head coach, with three coming on the road: No. 24 Miami in 2021, No. 11 Northwestern and No. 13 Michigan in 2020, and No. 25 Nebraska and No. 24 Arizona State (at Colorado) in 2019.

• With a 28-20 win over Auburn on Saturday night, Penn State earned its first regular season win over an SEC team since a road victory at Alabama in 1990. The Nittany Lions have two wins over ranked teams in the first three games of the season for the first time in program history.

• Brandon Smith led the Nittany Lions defense with a career-high 10 tackles (six solo), while besting his previous career high of eight tackles. The junior linebacker helped limit Auburn’s offense to just 185 passing yards on 21 of 39 attempts (.538 pct.) and its lowest total offensive output of the season (369 yards).

• Ohio State defeated Tulsa 41-20 on Saturday, as freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries (11.54 avg.). Henderson set a new Ohio State single-game freshman record for rushing yards, breaking the previous record (239 yards) set by Archie Griffin in 1972, while his 277 rushing yards are the most by any FBS player in a single game this season and the third-most in a single game in Ohio State history.

• With a 30-7 victory over Kent State on Saturday, Iowa extended its win streak to nine games. The Hawkeyes have outscored their last eight opponents, 305-113, averaging 33.9 points per game offensively and allowing 12.6 points per game during the winning streak. The Hawkeyes have also played 25 straight games without surrendering 25 points, marking the longest streak in the nation among A5 teams. Saturday’s victory also marked Iowa’s 300th win at Kinnick Stadium since the stadium opened in 1929.

• Minnesota defeated Colorado 30-0 on Saturday to continue its non-conference win streak. The Gophers have won 21 straight non-conference games, which is the longest active streak nationally and the longest by a Big Ten team since Purdue won 24 straight games from 1926-33. Minnesota hasn’t lost a non-conference game since Sept. 3, 2015, to then No. 2 TCU. They’ve also won 17 straight regular season non-conference games, which is tied for their second-longest streak.

• Nebraska took No. 3 Oklahoma down to the wire on the road at Memorial Stadium in Norman, but came up just short in a 23-16 setback to the Sooners on Saturday. The Huskers limited Oklahoma to seven first-half points. It marked the first time Oklahoma had been held under 10 points in the first half since being tied with Ohio State 3-3 at half in 2017. It was also the first time the Sooners were limited to single digits in the first half at home since being held to six points by Notre Dame in 2012.

• All six of the New Year’s Six bowl games have had a chance to host a semifinal game twice with the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl doing so three times. This year, the Cotton and Orange Bowls will serve as semifinal games. Last year, Alabama became the second-straight No. 1 seed to win the playoff. The No. 1 seed didn’t win a title in the first five years. The No. 2 seed has won it three times and the No. 4 seed has won it twice. The No. 3 seed has won just three playoff games in seven years with Ohio State winning one of those last season.

• The 2021 campaign features 120 All-Big Ten honorees (first-, second-, third-team or honorable mention) selected by either the coaches or the media last season. Iowa and Ohio State lead the West and East Divisions, respectively, each welcoming back 14 All-Big Ten honorees this season. The talent is split evenly as 60 of the returning all-conference players hail from both the East and West Divisions. Each team returns at least three All-Big Ten performers. 

COURTESY BIG TEN COMMUNICATIONS

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