Around the Big Ten: Week 11
Rice (3-6, 2-4 Conference USA) at Northwestern (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten)
After going into Lincoln and shocking then 10th-ranked Nebraska 28-25 last Saturday, Northwestern looks to build on this momentum by taking down Conference USA foe Rice. A win in Evanston on Saturday will move the Wildcats one step closer to bowl eligibility. Taking a step out of conference play could not have come at a better time for Northwestern as quarterback Dan Persa continues to battle injury problems. All signs point to backup quarterback Kain Colter and a heavy dose of the 34th ranked Wildcat rushing attack against the Owls as Rice has given up an average of 194 yards on the ground per game this season.
No. 17 Michigan State (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
After falling apart in Iowa City last year, Michigan State is looking to avoid an eighth consecutive road loss at Iowa this Saturday as a birth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game is looking like more of a reality for the Spartans. The game on Saturday has huge Legends Division implications as both the Hawkeyes and the Spartans control their own destiny in the division with a win. The Spartans will look to get their offense in gear on the road as quarterback Kirk Cousins and company have scored only 26 points combined in their three road games. Iowa won last year’s matchup 37-6 in Iowa City.
Ohio State (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at Purdue (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten)
It was all Buckeyes a year ago. Ohio State put a 49-0 beat-down on the Boilermakers in Columbus last season, but Purdue is looking to turn the tides in the series this Saturday on their home turf. If Purdue has a chance to win this weekend, they must shrug off last Saturday’s 62-17 embarrassment at the hands of Wisconsin. Ohio State and their emerging quarterback Braxton Miller are coming off a 34-20 win over Indiana and are very much in the hunt for the Leaders Division title. Purdue’s quarterback, Caleb TerBush, looks to lead his Boilermakers to their first win since October 22nd.
No. 18 Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2) at Minnesota (2-7, 1-4 Big Ten)
Wisconsin heads to Minneapolis on Saturday to continue their road back to national prominence. After two dramatic losses in a row, the Badgers returned to form by pummeling Purdue 62-17 last Saturday. Minnesota looks to bounce back against the Badgers after losing their matchup last weekend 31-24 to Michigan State. This week features the longest rivalry in the FBS as the two schools will battle it out for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. It’s been complete dominance by Wisconsin in this series as the Badgers haven’t lost the Axe since 2003. With two touchdowns on Saturday, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball will tie the Big Ten single-season record. Minnesota will look to slow down a Wisconsin offense that is averaging 47 points per game. Wisconsin won last year’s matchup 41-23.
No. 24 Michigan (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) at Illinois (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten)
Both teams are in desperate need for a win as two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Denard Robinson (264.2 yards per game) and Nathan Scheelhaase (265.5 yards per game) battle it out in Champaign. If last year’s 67-65 three-overtime thriller in favor of Michigan gives any indication of how this game is going to play out, buckle your seatbelts. Michigan lost a heartbreaker on the goal line last week to Iowa, while Illinois is coming off three straight losses after starting the season 6-0. Both teams will provide plenty of offense, but it is the defenses that will determine the outcome. Both defenses boast top 15 numbers, so all things point to a game that will go down to the wire.
Alex Gilliland is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.