Welcome back to another edition of B1G Numbers to ponder. We’re getting you ready for the start of the season by tossing some stats and numbers from last season your way. We’ll keep this up all summer long until the start of the season. Then we can focus on what went down the previous week. For now, here’s some more numbers to ponder.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times over the last few months how P.J. Fleck inherited a sound rushing attack to build his offense around. He also inherited some elite pass rushers. No two returning teammates in the Big Ten combined for more sacks last season than defensive tackle Steven Richardson and linebacker Blake Cashman. The duo racked up 15 total sacks for a combined loss of 82 yards. If they can repeat or improve upon that performance, it will help take pressure off of what is expected to be a fairly green secondary.
On the flip side, no Big Ten team lost more production on paper in that category than Michigan. Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley combined to sack opposing quarterbacks 16 times for a combined loss of 87 yards.
The Big Ten lost a lot of quality defensive back from last season to graduation and the NFL Draft. As we know, Iowa was hit hard with the loss of Desmond King. No team, however, was hit harder from a stats perspective than Ohio State. Buckeye defensive backs Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore all moved on to the the NFL. That trio combined to intercept 15 passes in 2016.
Wisconsin was also hit hard in the category, losing safety Leo Musso and cornerback Sojourn Shelton. The dynamic Badger duo combined for nine interceptions. On the flips side, they do return Derrick Tyndal, who picked off three passes. He figures to be a guy that opposing quarterbacks try to avoid when throwing downfield.
The top two returning interception leaders from a season ago are Nebraska’s Kieron Williams and Northwestern’s Montre Hartage. Both had five interceptions in 2016.
Let’s Go Streaking!
The two longest losing streaks in the Big Ten heading into 2017, not surprisingly, belong to Rutgers and Purdue. Rutgers has dropped nine straight, while Purdue gets the silver medal of suck with a seven game losing streak. Taking a quick gander at each of their schedules this coming season, Rutgers will get to at least ten-straight losses, as they open against the Washington Huskies. I predict that the streak will end right there, as they follow that game up by hosting Eastern Michigan. If they drop that one, they should be able to beat Morgan State the following week. If they can’t do that, we need to considering voting them off the island.
Purdue, on the other hand, could possibly extent their steak to 13! Their first six games are against Louisville, The Ohio Fighting Soliches, Mizzou, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. If they do indeed drop all of those games, they might have a shot of ending the streak in their seventh game of the season — against Rutgers.