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The bizarre, important and historic numbers from around the Big Ten conference.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 14:
226: Carlos Hyde's rivalry-high rushing yards against Michigan
No Ohio State running back has ever rushed for more yards in "The Game" than Hyde did against the Wolverines on Saturday. He rushed 27 times for 226 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in what might have been the best game between "Ohio" and "That Team Up North" in the long and storied history of the rivalry. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns, rushed for 150 yards and played electric football all game long as well. Urban Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his OSU coaching career, tying Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan and Ohio State have played 110 times and 2013 might have been the best version to date.
603: Yards allowed by Ohio State to Michigan
The Game featured 1,129 yards of offense, three fighting ejections and the biggest two-point conversion attempt since Tom Osborne went for it in the 1984 Orange Bowl. But the most startling number is the 603 yards of offense from Michigan. The Wolverines were ranked 96th nationally in total offense but went up and down the field on the Buckeyes defense. The Wolverines had one scoring drive of at least 70 yards in its previous five games but had five such drives against Ohio State. The 603 yards, 451 passing yards and 41 points were the most allowed by the Buckeyes defense this season.
1966: The last time Michigan State was unbeaten in Big Ten play
With an ugly but convincing win over Minnesota at home, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans finished the year unblemished in Big Ten play. The 8-0 record is just the third such perfect Big Ten record for Michigan State and the first since 1966. The Spartans have allowed six points or less in five of their last six games and are leading the nation in total defense. Dantonio now has his sights set on the Rose Bowl, as his Spartans take on an Ohio State team that has won 24 straight games in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1987 — when Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The 1965 season is the only other perfect Big Ten record in MSU history.
208.92: Christian Hackenberg’s QB rating against Wisconsin
The true freshman phenom saved his best for last against the ranked Badgers on the road in the regular-season finale. He went 21-of-30 for 339 yards — one shy of his career high — and a career-high four touchdowns with nary a turnover in the 31-24 win over Wisconsin. His 208.92 passer rating was by far by the best of his brief career, topping his 165.38 against UCF. What’s more impressive is the defense he was facing was ranked in the top six nationally in total yards and points allowed per game. Hackenberg is a special talent with elite NFL upside. With a full offseason to continue his development and maturation following a successful freshman campaign, the sky could be the limit for the Nittany Lions in 2014. With two winning seasons in the face of heavy-handed NCAA sanctions, few coaches in the nation have done a better job over the last two years than Bill O'Brien.
297: Total tackles by Iowa’s starting linebackers
James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey are a big reason why Iowa went from 4-8 to 8-4 in 2013. The trio is fifth (Hitchens, 102), eighth (Morris, 98) and ninth (Kirksey, 97) in the Big Ten in tackles and has combined for 297 total stops. All three were preseason Butkus Award candidates and all three delivered in a big way. In 2013, the group combined for 297 tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles. And they might have saved Kirk Ferentz’ job.
10: Quarters Minnesota’s offense hasn’t scored a TD
You have to go all the way back to Nov. 9 to find an offensive touchdown for the Golden Gophers. Yes, Minnesota’s eight-win season is one of the better stories nationally considering all that the Gophers' community has had to deal with,. However, the storybook ending simply didn’t happen. Minnesota lost its final two games of the regular season to Wisconsin and Michigan State without scoring an offensive touchdown. And since it was held scoreless in the second half of the Penn State victory, that makes 10 straight quarters without an offensive touchdown for Goldie. The bowl game can’t get here fast enough.
6: Straight seasons with four losses for Bo Pelini
Nebraska and its head coach finally melted down in the 38-17 drubbing to Iowa to end the already bizarre 2013 season. Pelini didn’t handle himself well during or after the game and there is a reason he should be concerned. Pelini does have three trips to the conference championship game in six season but has now lost four games in all six of his seasons in Lincoln. There is still a bowl game left but even a win won’t change the strange run of solid but mediocre four-loss teams for the embattled Pelini.
2: Combined Big Ten wins for Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue
Illinois defeated Purdue for its only conference win of the season and that was an ugly 20-16 affair in which the Illini broke a 20-game Big Ten losing streak. Not much was expected of Purdue either. So a combined 1-15 record for those two isn’t all that surprising. But Northwestern was picked by many as a dark horse candidate to win the Big Ten Legends Division and was a top-25 team as late as Week 5. Certainly, injuries were a problem, but Pat Fitzgerald has to be concerned with his team's 1-7 performance in Big Ten play this fall. His team played well against Ohio State but wasn’t that competitive in blowout losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State. For the Wildcats, 2013 was a major reality check.