Some things to watch in the Big Ten in Week 12 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Indiana at No. 4 Michigan. The Wolverines have won 20 straight against Indiana, but this is no gimme. They could be smarting from the loss at Iowa last week, and they could be starting John O’Korn in place of injured quarterback Wilton Speight. This will be the Hoosiers’ fourth top-10 opponent, and they’ve won four of their last six on the road. They can draw confidence from limiting Big Ten rushing leader Saquon Barkley of Penn State to a season-low 58 yards on a career-high 33 carries last week. Up-and-down Indiana QB Richard Lagow will need to be at his best against Michigan’s top-ranked pass defense.
Northwestern at Minnesota. Northwestern bounced back from losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin with a road win against Purdue, and now the Wildcats’ focus is on getting a sixth win to become bowl eligible. Minnesota already has locked up a fifth straight bowl trip, and another win could enhance the Gophers’ postseason destination. Northwestern won last year’s meeting 27-0, but these two teams typically play close games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
No. 2 Ohio State visits Michigan State after having outscored Nebraska and Maryland by a combined 124-6. The Buckeyes’ 46.5 points a game ranks second in the FBS. … If Nebraska beats Maryland, the Cornhuskers would have their first perfect home record since 2012 and second since 2001. … The Terrapins are playing three straight top-20 opponents for the first time since 2004. … Wisconsin goes to Purdue on a 10-game win streak over the Boilermakers, the longest by either team in a series that dates to 1892. … Purdue has had at least one touchdown pass of at least 45 yards in six straight games. … Penn State, which visits Rutgers, has won six consecutive Big Ten games in the same season for the first time since 1994.
Illinois is a 9-point underdog at home against Iowa. The Hawkeyes must guard against a letdown after their big win over Michigan. They’ve won seven of eight in the series and beat the Illini 29-20 in Iowa City last year, but not before holding off a fourth-quarter comeback. The Illini got quarterback Wes Lunt and receiver Malik Turner back from injuries last week, and the offensive line has not given up a sack the past two games. Lunt & Co. will be going against an Iowa defense coming off a stellar performance in which it held Michigan to 201 yards.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Michigan QB John O’Korn. Coach Jim Harbaugh is averse to saying much about injured players, and he challenged reports early in the week that Wilton Speight was done for the season because of a broken collarbone. Still, O’Korn is expected to make his first start since transferring from Houston. O’Korn lost a close competition to Speight in the preseason and has been mostly sharp in his eight appearances.
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