Around the Big Ten: Week 8
Brian McLaughlin, Zach Seyko, Matt Freiler and Jeremy Ganes break down this week's action in the Big Ten.
The Big Ten has an interesting slate of games for Week 8, beginning with three noon games and capping things off with the annual White Out game between Penn State and Michigan.
Ohio State and Nebraska are on their byes after playing each other last week.
Let’s begin with the most interesting matchup of Saturday: Michigan at Penn State.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh is entering Beaver Stadium for the second time of his career, as well as a second White Out game.
Harbaugh defeated the Nittany Lions in his last White Out, 28-16, but this is not the Penn State of old.
With James Franklin’s system entirely entrenched in University Park, the Nittany Lions find themselves at No. 2 in the current polls.
No. 19 Michigan has taken a step back in 2017, especially after an injury to starting quarterback Wilton Speight.
Transfer quarterback John O’Korn has struggled as the replacement, but Michigan is still the defensive powerhouse that Harbaugh emphasizes.
Penn State-Michigan projects to be a low scoring game, with Michigan’s No. 1 total defense squaring off against Penn State’s top score defense (9.0 PPG allowed).
The Nittany Lions are ranked in the highest position since 2008, when they reached No. 3 before a loss to Iowa.
White Out games are magical and spoil college football fans with the crazy environment that comes with it.
The Wolverines will already have a tough time dealing with the Penn State talent on the field, but add the electricity of the crowd and it is a higher level of resistance.
Other than the Penn State-Michigan battle, not many games will have an effect on the polls or even a major impact on the Big Ten standings, especially in the West.
Expect Wisconsin to handle the injury-plagued Maryland Terrapins with ease and move on to 7-0, having complete control in the Big Ten west division.
Most of the other games will be focused on bragging rights. Iowa at Northwestern and Purdue at Rutgers are the other two noon games.
All four schools are 1-2 overall in the Big Ten standings, which makes these games the primary goal of coming away with a win to get closer to a bowl berth.
Northwestern, one of the more underrated teams in the NCAA, has a chance to prove its doubters wrong against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes struggle away from home and could give up ground to Wildcat quarterback Clayton Thorson.
Thorson is beginning to garner NFL scouts’ attention, as the junior stands at 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds, while showing solid, but raw QB intangibles.
Purdue is looking for its fourth overall win on the road at Rutgers. The Boilermakers are looking to reach a bowl game under former Western Kentucky and first-year head coach Jeff Brohm.
Lovie Smith and Illinois (2-4, 0-3) battle the Golden Gophers (3-3, 0-3) in Minnesota, as both teams, again, are looking for that win to get them closer to a bowl berth.
Finally, No. 18 Michigan State (5-1, 3-0) takes on Indiana (3-3, 0-3) in East Lansing, Mi.
Mark Dantonio and his squad are in the midst of a bounce back year after amassing just three wins in the 2016 season.
While the Spartans are clear favorites in this one, some are underestimating their ability to be a threat in the Big Ten East.
Indiana’s sound offense, for some people, seems to be enough to knock off the reinvented Spartans.
It also does not help that star running back LJ Scott was arrested Thursday for driving with a suspended license.
If Scott is out for the Indiana game, the Spartans might have to rely on the arm of Brian Lewerke, who has been solid under center in 2017 with 60.1 completion percentage and a 9-3 TD to INT ratio.
Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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