It’s one of them weekends where the focus is on the Big Ten because one of the biggest games of the season will determine (most likely) who has a GREAT chance of winning the conference AND getting a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Penn State at Ohio State - 2:30 pm
This proves to be the mother of all Big Ten football games this season.
Who is the better quarterback? J.T. Barrett or Trace McSorley?
Who is the better running back? Saquon Barkley or J.K. Dobbins?
Who has the better receivers? Offensive line? Defensive line?
A slight edge goes to Ohio State because of their defensive front seven. Who can you name from either of these teams defensive lines? Nick Bosa, that's who. Then again... Penn State is #1 nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 9.6 points per game, third in yards per play, and fifth in opponent red zone touchdowns. Ohio State has the top scoring offense in the nation (47.3 points per game) and they’re third in total offense (577.3 yards per game).
Who’s going to win? I’ll probably pick Ohio State because it’s in Columbus, and it’s their turn.
Minnesota at Iowa - 5:30 pm
This game stands to be the most horrifying of the week. Nate Stanley is not a very dynamic quarterback for Iowa. Minnesota's combination of Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda has been awful at times, so awful that both of them have the potential for hurting their team more than helping.
This game will come down to who makes the least mistakes, as in turnovers. It'll probably end up 13 – 10 in three overtimes.
Rutgers at Michigan - 11:00 am
You know it would be hilarious to the extreme if Rutgers could somehow upset Michigan. The Scarlet Knights have shown a great deal of improvement while Michigan is coming off a butt kicking from Penn State. Perhaps the Wolverines are full of doubt. Their offense isn’t in very good condition, may be Rutgers could get them while they're down. A turnover here, a lucky bounce there, and suddenly Michigan would be in real trouble.
Highly doubtful, but it'd be fun.
Indiana at Maryland - 2:30 pm
This game is for the battle of the basement in the Big Ten East. Indiana has yet to win a game, while Maryland is 1 – 3. The Terrapins lone win came against Minnesota. Indiana's losses have come against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Can you imagine if Nebraska were in the Big Ten East right now? We would be completely losing our minds more than we are right now.
Indiana needs to win this game if for no other reason than to show some progress for all the hard work that they've put in the season. They lost to Michigan in overtime. They played Ohio State pretty well for three quarters. They led Michigan State for nearly the entire game. The Hoosiers need something good to happen to them.
Michigan State at Northwestern - 2:30 pm
Northwestern has been an incredible disappointment the season, while Sparty has been just the opposite. In case you haven't been paying attention, Michigan State's currently undefeated in the Big Ten East and tied with both Penn State and Ohio State for the lead.
Sparty is doing what they've typically done, which is play damned good defense. They are currently fourth in conference in scoring defense, and first in total defense. Northwestern is 13th in turnover margin (just below Nebraska). That should tell you what you need to know about how the Wildcats season has gone so far.
Thing about this game is - it's on at the same time as Penn State versus Ohio State so virtually no one will watch it. Even if Northwestern plays poorly and can do anything you know that Michigan State's offense will only have scored nine points late into the fourth quarter. You can flip over periodically and really not miss anything.
Wisconsin at Illinois - 11:00 am
Easily the worst game of the week. What that means is that Wisconsin will play terribly but still win by 38 points. Jonathan Taylor will have 300 yards.
Nebraska at Purdue - 6:30 pm
I really believe this game comes down to whether or not our beloved Huskers have a lot of fight left in them. Earlier this week Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said that Tanner Lee is the best quarterback that the Boilermakers will face outside of Louisville's Lamar Jackson. He's not wrong. When you look at Purdue's schedule, you will discover a dearth of decent quarterbacks. The entire Big Ten West is lacking in quarterback play and Lee has played much better than when he started the season.
Purdue has started two quarterbacks the season – Elijah Sindelar and David Blough - and neither has really claimed the starting job.
It's not 100% that Mike Riley will be fired this season. I'd put it at around 80% right now. A win against Purdue won't decrease that percentage, but a loss will certainly increase it. I hope for our team's sake that we can pull this together and win. It will be tough watching a team go through the motions and lose the rest of their games… Just think of how much time we spend in the off-season just hoping for another Nebraska football season.
I don't expect this to be a close game. Either we blow them out or they blow us out. I could stand to see Lee light up an opposing defense. It’d at least give us a week of goodness... okay, maybe a few days... a day. I’ll take that right now.