What to watch in the Big Ten this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 9 Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 8 CFP) at No. 2 Ohio State (10-0, 7-0, No. 2 CFP)
The East Division race probably comes down to this. Ohio State clinches a spot in the conference championship game Dec. 7 with a win. If Penn State wins, it would only need to beat last-place Rutgers at home next week to reach the title game for the first time since 2016. Ohio State has beaten each of its first 10 opponents by no fewer than 24 points but is playing a top-10 opponent for the first time. The Buckeyes have won two straight one-point games against Penn State, and the last three meetings have been decided by a total of five points.
Indiana pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense
The Hoosiers (7-3, 4-3) are the only Big Ten team averaging more than 300 yards passing, and Peyton Ramsey is coming off a career-high 371-yard passing day in a seven-point loss at Penn State. Indiana could be without Whop Philyor, who is second in the Big Ten with 61 catches. He was in the concussion protocol after taking two helmet-to-helmet hits on the same play last week. Cornerbacks Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas have combined for six interceptions and 10 pass breakups for No. 12 Michigan (8-2, 5-2, No. 13 CFP).
FACTS AND FIGURES
Penn State is playing a Top 25 opponent for the fifth time in six games, making this its most difficult stretch of games since the Associated Press poll began in 1936. Ohio State is facing its third Top 25 opponent. … Iowa’s Keith Duncan leads the country with an single-season school record 23 field goals. His 86.5% success rate is best among Iowa kickers with at least 30 attempts. … No. 11 Minnesota (6-1 Big Ten, No. 10) would be 10-1 for the first time since 1905 if it wins at Northwestern (2-8, 0-7). … DE Joe Gaziano needs half a sack to tie the Northwestern career record of 28. … Rutgers (2-8, 0-7) enters its home game against Michigan State (4-6, 2-5) having allowed a conference-high average of 36.8 points per game against Big Ten opponents since joining the league in 2014. … No. 14 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2, No. 12) has won 13 straight meetings with Purdue (4-6, 3-4) – the longest streak by either team in a series that dates to 1892. … Freshmen have scored 19 straight touchdowns for Purdue.
Maryland, 4-point underdog at home to Nebraska.
This matches teams that haven’t won since Oct. 5. Maryland (3-7, 1-6) is averaging 246.3 rushing yards against FBS opponents with losing records, and Javon Leake is the kind of player that could torment Nebraska (4-6, 2-5). He’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry, and he’s among four players in the nation who have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Illinois WR Josh Imatorbhebhe
The Illini (6-4, 4-3) have won four straight, and the transfer from Southern California goes into the game at No. 19 Iowa (7-3, 4-3, No. 17) with nine catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns during the streak. He was a key in the 25-point comeback against Michigan State two weeks ago. He caught touchdown passes of 46 and 83 yards, and he caught a 37-yard pass to convert a fourth-and-17 on the game-winning drive.
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