Around the Big Ten: Week 9
Northwestern (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten) at Indiana (1-7, 0-4 Big Ten)
Saturday’s battle at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington will feature two teams who had much higher expectations for this season. With five losses already on the season, Northwestern is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2007. Northwestern’s defense will need to do a better job of stopping the run after surrendering just under 200 yards on the ground in a 34-24 loss to Penn State last Saturday. Indiana is just 1-7 under new head coach Kevin Wilson and will look to see further improvement from freshman quarterback Tre Roberson. Roberson accumulated 281 total yards and a passing touchdown in last week’s 45-24 loss to Iowa. Northwestern won last year’s battle in Bloomington, 20-17.
Purdue (4-3, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 18 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
Michigan will be looking to rebound after its first loss of the season to Michigan State two weeks ago. The Wolverines will look for more efficiency from junior quarterback Denard Robinson, who completed only 37 percent of his passes in the loss. Michigan will have its hands full against Danny Hope’s Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue is looking to build momentum after upsetting then-23rd ranked Illinois last weekend, 21-14. Purdue will look for another strong performance from a defensive line that sacked Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase four times last Saturday. Michigan won last year’s matchup at Purdue, 27-16.
No. 11 Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) at No. 14 Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
Saturday’s matchup will go a long way in deciding the winner of the Legends Division. A Michigan State victory gives them a two game cushion over Nebraska, while a Nebraska victory results in a tie for first place. The Spartans expect to ride the momentum from last weekend’s miraculous last second victory against Wisconsin. They will look for another strong performance from senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns in last weekend’s victory. Nebraska will try to utilize its strong running game that accumulated 346 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 41-14 victory against Minnesota. This is the first matchup between the two schools since Nebraska’s 17-3 victory in the 2003 Alamo Bowl.
Iowa (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten)
After scoring a season low three points at Penn State on October 8, Iowa has scored over 40 points in back-to-back victories against Northwestern and Indiana. Iowa hopes for continued improvement from quarterback James Vandenberg, who threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns in last weekend’s victory. Senior wide receiver Marvin McNutt will look to exploit a weak Minnesota secondary after his best performance of the season last week against Indiana in which he had six catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The Golden Gophers will need a much better performance from its defense, which gave up 515 total yards at home last weekend to Nebraska. Minnesota won last year’s matchup, also in Minneapolis, by a score of 27-24.
No. 15 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at Ohio State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
After last weekend’s devastating loss to Michigan State derailed their national title hopes, Wisconsin will look to rebound against a struggling Ohio State squad. The Badgers will be looking for another strong balanced performance from their offense. Between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball, Wisconsin totaled over 200 yards last week, both on the ground and in the air. It will interesting to see what Luke Fickell has planned for the Buckeye offense after choosing to pass the ball only four times in their victory over then-16th ranked Illinois two weeks ago. The Buckeyes will also look for another strong performance from its defense that held Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to less than 200 yards passing and forced three turnovers in the victory. The Badgers won last year’s matchup in Madison by a 31-18 margin.
Justin Rocke is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.