Around The Big Ten: Week 5
Week five in the 2015 Big Ten football season brings most teams the start of regular conference play. There are great matchups scheduled all around college football this weekend, and the Big Ten is no different. While there are no ranked matchups in the conference this week, a few of the remaining undefeated teams will be tested by their toughest opponents yet in Week five.
Purdue @ Michigan State 12 p.m., ESPN2
Second-ranked Michigan State will look to continue their dominant play this weekend in their Big Ten opener against a 1-3 Purdue team that has suffered losses to two non power-five conference opponents already this year. Michigan State is favored by three touchdowns, and should have no problem putting away the Boilermakers.
Minnesota @ Northwestern 12 p.m., BTN
Northwestern opens up their conference schedule undefeated and ranked 16th in the nation after a 4-0 start. Minnesota, on the other hand, has just one loss, which they suffered Week One against a strong TCU team. The past two weeks have been less than impressive for both teams, as Minnesota beat Kent State and Ohio by just three points each while Northwestern edged out Duke and Ball State. The difference in this game will be Northwestern’s stout defense, which is allowing just 8.8 points per game so far this year.
Iowa @ Wisconsin 12 p.m., ESPN
In what is arguably the best early game on this week’s Big Ten slate, Iowa will travel to Madison to take on the 19th ranked Badgers. Iowa is undefeated through four games for the first time since 2009, but haven’t had a real test yet. Wisconsin’s only loss thus far came at the hands of Alabama in the season kickoff game at AT&T Stadium. This game will come down to if Iowa can handle the pressure of playing a ranked Wisconsin team in the hostile environment of Camp Randall Stadium. The nation will find out on Saturday just what Iowa is made of this year.
Nebraska @ Illinois 3:30 p.m., BTN
Despite the dismissal of their head coach just a week before the season, Illinois has been able to achieve a 3-1 record through the season’s first four weeks. The Illini are another team that hasn’t truly been tested yet, with their three wins coming against lower conference teams.
Nebraska is having an uncharacteristically slow start to the 2015 season, their first under new head coach Mike Riley. While their two losses have been to respectable opponents, Miami and BYU, the Cornhuskers had a tough time beating Southern Missouri last week.
This game will be one of the best Big Ten matchups of the day, as there is no real clear-cut favorite, but the high-powered Nebraska offense led by Tommy Armstrong, Jr. may just be the difference on Saturday.
Ohio State @ Indiana 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
While this game is a matchup of undefeated teams, this one won’t be a classic. The reigning national champions of Ohio State came out strong this year, handily beating each team they’ve faced, except for a grind-it-out game against Northern Illinois.
Indiana is undefeated through four games for the first time in 25 years, but they’re another team whose wins have come against much weaker teams. Just last week, Indiana struggled to sneak by C-USA opponent Western Kentucky, 38-35.
Ohio State is simply too good of a team to lose to Indiana. The Hoosier’s biggest offensive threat, running back Jordan Howard, will be stifled by the strong Ohio State defensive line led by Joey Bosa, Jr., and the potent Buckeye offense will have a field day picking apart the Indiana defense.
Michigan @ Maryland 8 p.m., BTN
The Big Ten’s only primetime matchup this week will see a resurgent Michigan team travel to College Park to take on the struggling Maryland Terrapins.
These two teams could not be in more different situations going into week five.
Michigan is ranked for the first time this year (22nd) after a dominant, shutout victory over BYU, while Maryland barely showed up against West Virginia last week, losing 45-6.
Michigan is the better team in every aspect of the game, and should have no problem downing Maryland to give Jim Harbaugh his fourth win as the Wolverines’ coach.
John McHugh is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.