Around the Big Ten: Week 13
Iowa (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) at No. 21 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten)
After being embarrassed by Michigan 45-17 at “The Big House” last weekend, Nebraska returns home during rivalry week to face the Hawkeyes. The teams last faced in 2000, but their meeting on Black Friday will be the inaugural “Heroes Game.” The Cornhuskers chances at a Big Ten Championship game berth disappeared last week, but bragging rights and conference positioning are on the line between these Big Ten foes. Marvin McNutt, Iowa’s top receiver, needs 12 receptions to set an all-time school record.
Ohio State (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 15 Michigan (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten)
First-year head coaches Brady Hoke and Luke Fickell have their teams moving in opposite directions as they clash in The Game at the Big House. Michigan looks to reach double-digit victories and snap a seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes. Ohio State looks to avoid a .500 season after a tough, emotional loss at home last Saturday on Senior Day to Penn State 20-14. Adding a victory over the favored Wolverines to his resume could help Fickell save his job in the eyes of the Buckeyes faithful. Hoke looks to build on an already stellar season in Ann Arbor with a rivalry victory on Senior Day to cap off the regular season.
No. 14 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) at Northwestern (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
It’s been a season of peaks and valleys for the Northwestern Wildcats. After a 2-0 start they dropped five straight and faced a crossroads in their campaign. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald and the return of starting quarterback Dan Persa have helped right the ship and the Wildcats are now riding a four-game winning streak. A fifth straight win would solidify a bowl game for Northwestern after they became bowl eligible last weekend with a win against Minnesota. The Spartans are already packed and ready for a trip to Indianapolis to represent the Legends division in the first annual Big Ten Championship game. A victory over the Wildcats would give Michigan State its first back-to-back ten win seasons ever.
Purdue (5-6, 3-4 Big Ten) at Indiana (1-10, 0-7 Big Ten)
After an overtime victory at home against Ohio State, the Purdue Boilermakers faltered in their first chance to become bowl eligible. Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. matchup at Indiana is the last opportunity for the Boilermakers to reach the all-important sixth victory in order to play in a bowl game this year. Third-year coach Danny Hope has yet to sniff the postseason as Purdue has been left home for the holidays three straight seasons. This will be Indiana’s final game of the season and their last opportunity to beat a FBS school. Hoosiers first-year coach Kevin Wilson hopes to earn his first Big Ten win and prevent Purdue from a bowl game.
Illinois (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten) at Minnesota (2-9, 1-6 Big Ten)
After starting the season 6-0, the Illinois Fighting Illini lost their fight. They have lost five straight starting with a 17-7 defeat to Ohio State followed by a tough loss at Purdue, and then three straight losses to ranked Big Ten opponents. The seat is getting hotter underneath seven-year head coach Ron Zook. However, a victory would solidify a bowl berth for the Illini for the second consecutive season. The last time Illinois played in back-to-back bowl games was 1991-1992. Despite a disappointing season, first-year coach Jerry Kill has seen improvement and hopes to end the season on a high note.
Jared Abbott is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and psychology. To contact him, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.