Some things to watch in the Big Ten on Saturday:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 2 Ohio State at Penn State. The Buckeyes go to Happy Valley having won a program-record 20 consecutive true road games, the longest streak in the nation and the most since the Miami Hurricanes won 20 in a row between 1984-88. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett is coming off a splendid second half and overtime at Wisconsin last week and can strengthen his Heisman Trophy candidacy in front of another prime-time TV audience. Penn State is a three-touchdown underdog, but the Nittany Lions have won 10 of their last 11 at home, and there’ll be a festive atmosphere as the unbeaten 1986 national championship team is honored.
No. 10 Wisconsin at Iowa. It might be possible to win the West Division with two conference losses. Three? Not likely. Wisconsin, which has lost to heavyweights Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive games, has no more room for error as it heads to Iowa City. The teams have split 10 meetings since they started playing for the Heartland Trophy in 2004, but the Badgers have won three straight at Kinnick Stadium. Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook is getting better by the week. Iowa, winner of two straight since losing at home to Northwestern, is a conference-best 23 for 24 in the red zone.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Seven of the last nine Indiana-Northwestern meetings have been decided by seven points or less. Those seven games were decided by a total of 26 points, and two went to overtime. … Ohio State is third in the Bowl Subdivision in scoring defense, allowing 12.8 points per game. … Minnesota has allowed only 34 points in the first half and has not allowed a first-half touchdown in any of its three Big Ten games. … No. 3 Michigan goes into its home game against Illinois having committed only four turnovers, best in the Big Ten and second nationally. … Illinois is 3-30-2 against Michigan when the Wolverines are ranked. … No. 8 Nebraska is among 10 FBS teams that are 9-1 or better over their last 10 games, with Alabama the only team that’s 10-0.
Maryland is a 2 +-point underdog at home against a Michigan State team that has lost four straight. The Spartans remain unsettled at quarterback, and their defense last week gave up 54 points to Northwestern, the most in coach Mark Dantonio’s 10 seasons. Maryland is smarting from a second straight loss following a 4-0 start, and the Terps have QB issues of their own.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Penn State RB Saquon Barkley ran for 194 yards in a loss to Ohio State last year and gives the Nittany Lions the best chance to keep it close. The elusive Barkley, averaging 97 yards per game, ran for 202 against Maryland in his last game. He’ll be going against a rushing defense that’s allowing just 3.18 yards per carry and didn’t give up a touchdown on the ground until last week.
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