Around the Big Ten: Week 10
Illinois (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) at Penn State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) 12:00 ET
Coming off one of the worst losses in school history, Penn State looks to bounce back against a struggling Illinois team. Coach Bill O’Brien confirmed that freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, whose shoulder was injured at Ohio State, has been practicing without issue and will play on Saturday.
Hackenberg will continue to rely mostly on junior wide receiver Allen Robinson, however look for some passes to senior wideout Brandon Felder as well. Also, with Bill Belton now listed as the starting running back, expect lots of runs from him.
Illinois looks to get its first Big Ten win of the season as they travel to Happy Valley. Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has continued to put up impressive numbers, averaging 235.6 yards a game with 12 passing touchdowns.
He looks to take advantage of a Penn State secondary that has struggled at times this season. The Illini defense has had problems stopping the rush, and that may cause problems this week against a rising Bill Belton.
No. 24 Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (5-3, 1-2 Big Ten) 12:00 ET
Wisconsin is coming off their second bye week of the season, after a dominant win over Illinois in Week 8. The Badgers are coming up on the toughest part of their schedule, with no game a guarantee.
Senior inside linebacker Chris Borland is expected to play after missing the final three quarters against Illinois with a right hamstring injury. This is good news, as Borland leads the Badgers with 57 tackles. Watch for sophomore running back Melvin Gordon to try and penetrate Iowa’s stout defense.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are looking to keep the momentum rolling in their favor after coming off an overtime win against Northwestern last week, which snapped a two game losing streak.
Don’t expect Iowa to run the ball too often against the Wisconsin defense, which is ranked fourth nationally allowing only 87.6 yards per game. It could be tough for Iowa to find the end zone this week, especially given that they have the second worst scoring offense in the Big Ten (27.1 points per game). However the Hawkeye defense is averaging only 18.1 points allowed per game.
No. 4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at Purdue (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) 12:00 ET
Ohio State looks to extend its win streak to 21 straight wins as it travels to Purdue this week. Braxton Miller has continued to improve and it seems that he will only get better. In the last two games, he has completed 78.4% of his passes, with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Watch for him to quickly penetrate Purdue’s weak defense and likely lead multiple scoring drives. Expect senior running back Carlos Hyde to make his presence known as well. It shouldn’t be too hard for the Buckeyes’ defense to contain Purdue, as the Boilermakers are ranked 122nd nationally in points for.
Purdue is still looking for it’s first win in Big Ten play this weekend. However, the Boilermakers are looking to make a statement at home against Ohio State.
Purdue has won the last two games and four of the last six at home against Ohio State. They also almost beat the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium last year before losing in overtime.
However, this year they may have some difficulties on defense against a dominant Ohio State offense. Purdue is going to have to figure out how to stop Ohio State’s run game, which is averaging 295.6 yards per game. Look for freshman Danny Etling to continue taking snaps.
Minnesota (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) at Indiana (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) 3:30 ET
Minnesota is looking for its third straight win after coming off an exciting win versus Nebraska last week. Look for lots of rushes from junior running back David Cobb against a weak Indiana rush defense.
Also expect sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson to run the ball a bit as well. After having 4 sacks last week, watch for senior defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hagemen to wreak havoc against Indiana. Expect big things to come from this team, which is now bowl eligible for the first time in many years, in the remainder of the season.
After starting Big Ten play off with a win against Penn State, the Hoosiers dropped their next two games against Michigan State and Michigan before a bye week last week. Despite being under .500, Indiana has still
managed to average over 500 yards of total offense this season. Their 514.0 yard average is second only to Ohio State (517.3).
Don’t expect much of an issue to arise from three of their five starting offensive linemen being out for the season with injuries. However the O- line will need to watch out for Hagemen, as well as sophomore defensive lineman Theiren Cockran, who both tallied multiple sacks against Nebraska.
Northwestern (4-4, 0-4 Big Ten) at Nebraska (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) 3:30 ET
After starting the season 4-0, Northwestern has fallen to a disappointing 4-4 through the end of October. This comes as little surprise as the team is 12-21 in the month of October under current head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
But the Wildcats hope to pick up their first Big Ten win this weekend against Nebraska. It isn’t going to be easy, with senior Kain Colter, 1⁄2 of Northwestern’s quarterback duo, most likely sitting out with an ankle injury sustained in last week’s game.
The Wildcats are also once again without senior running back Venric Mark, who has been out most of the season due to several leg injuries. Despite these offensive woes, the defense has picked off opposing quarterbacks 14 times this season.
Nebraska is coming off a loss to Minnesota, which was the first of its kind since 1960. Expect the Cornhuskers to rely on their running game, as the Northwestern defense has had trouble stopping the rush attack. Also expect quarterback Taylor Martinez to sit out again, this time with a hip pointer. Freshman Tommy Armstrong will most likely play the entire game.
No. 21 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 22 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) 3:30 ET
After having a bye week last week, Michigan has spent plenty of time prepping for what is always a physical game. Watch for senior tackle Taylor Lewan and freshman guard Kyle Bosch to be put up some good blocks on offense.
Expect lots of carries by senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and a relatively quiet week for wide receivers Jeremey Gallon and Devin
Funchess, since Michigan State has the third best pass defense in the nation, allowing only 160.6 yards per game.
A key for Michigan is to watch its turnovers. The Wolverines have allowed 17 in seven games, so in order to win they are going to need to avoid those. Also, with their defense giving up many big plays, they are going to have to step it up a notch, against a very good Michigan State offense.
Coming off a dominant win versus Illinois last week, the Spartans are looking to continue to find the end zone against Michigan this week. Expect lots of passing from sophomore quarterback Connor Cook to avoid Michigan’s stellar rush defense (99.9 yards per game).
Watch for Michigan State’s pass defense to slow Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner down in the air, but they will need to watch for his running game. Expect this game to be Michigan State’s first real test since losing to Notre Dame in week four.