Big Ten preview: No. 2 Ohio St at No. 6 Michigan tops slate

NCAA Football

Things to watch during Week 13 of play in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 6 Michigan

The stakes are as they should be for a late November showdown between top-10 teams: winner goes to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis next week and is the conference’s front-runner for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0, No. 2 CFP) are on a higher level offensively than the rest of the nation right now. The Wolverines (10-1, 7-1, No. 5 CFP) and Jim Harbaugh are desperate to beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011.

BEST MATCHUP

Michigan State offense vs. Penn State defense. The 12th-ranked Spartans (9-2, 6-2) are still smarting after their worst offensive performance of the year in a 56-7 loss to Ohio State. Kenneth Walker III has been bothered by a sore left ankle and is among several Spartans who are banged up. The Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-4) have given up more than 21 points just three times and are coming off a shutout of Rutgers.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Nebraska (3-8, 1-7) has lost its eight games by a total of 49 points and is 5-19 in one-score games under fourth-year coach Scott Frost. The Huskers host Iowa (9-2, 6-2) on Friday. The No. 17 Hawkeyes have won six straight in the series, with the previous three decided by a total of 12 points. … Northwestern (3-8, 1-7) has beaten Illinois (4-7, 3-5) six straight times entering the Land of Lincoln Trophy game in Champaign, the Wildcats’ longest win streak in the series. A win Saturday would tie Northwestern’s longest win streak against a Big Ten opponent. The Wildcats won seven straight against Indiana (1959-65). … Maryland (5-6, 2-6) has averaged 35 points per game in seven meetings with Rutgers (5-6, 2-6) since the teams joined the Big Ten in 2014.

LONG SHOT

Minnesota is a 6 1/2-point underdog at home against Wisconsin on Saturday, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

You never know which version of the Gophers (7-4, 5-3) will show up week to week, but the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe should provide plenty of motivation. The No. 18 Badgers (8-3, 6-2) go to the Big Ten championship game as West champion with a win. If they lose, they still go to the title game if Nebraska upsets Iowa on Friday.

IMPACT PLAYER

WR David Bell of Purdue (7-4, 5-3) heads into the Old Oaken Bucket Game against Indiana (2-9, 0-8) on the cusp of setting the Boilermakers record for receiving yards in a season. He needs 101 to break John Standeford’s mark of 1,150 yards in 2003. Bell has 17 games with 100 receiving yards in his career, including his nine catches for 136 yards in his only other game against the Hoosiers (2019).

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