Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 14 Michigan at Maryland
It’s probably a stretch to call this a trap game for the Wolverines (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten), but it does come on the heels of an impressive win over Notre Dame and before an open date and Nov. 9 meeting with in-state rival Michigan State. Maryland has lost five of six — the win was over Rutgers — and on top of injuries to their top two quarterbacks the Terrapins (3-5, 1-4) have the look of a team that’s cashed it in for the season. Michigan has won seven of eight all-time meetings and four of five since the Terps joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Indiana passing offense vs. Northwestern passing defense
With Michael Penix Jr. and Peyton Ramsey splitting time as starters, the Hoosiers have averaged 312.8 yards per game through the air to rank 11th in the country. The Wildcats are allowing 180 passing yards per game to rank 14th. Northwestern hasn’t allowed more than 233 passing yards in a game; Indiana has gone over 300 yards passing in four games.
FACTS AND FIGURES
This is the Big Ten’s lightest weekend of the season, with six teams having open dates. … Nebraska (at Purdue) is 1-7 on the road under second-year coach Scott Frost. … Illinois (vs. Rutgers) is looking for its first three-game winning streak since starting the 2011 season 6-0. The Illini’s last three-game conference win streak was in 2014. … Since Wisconsin rushed for 359 yards against Michigan, the Wolverines have allowed a combined 259 yards on the ground in five games and 1.6 yards per carry. … Purdue WR David Bell has earned back-to-back Big Ten freshman of the week honors. He has a combined 22 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns against Maryland and Iowa. His 197 yards against Iowa were a school freshman record. … Rutgers, which beat Liberty last week, is going for consecutive wins for the first time in two years.
Northwestern, 11 ½-point underdog at Indiana
The Wildcats are the lowest-scoring team in the nation (10.7 ppg) and have lost five in a row. They rarely are out of a game, though, because they have a solid defense that doesn’t give up many big plays. Northwestern has won five straight and nine of the last 10 in the series and can pull the upset if the Hoosiers are still busy celebrating becoming bowl eligible.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Illinois RB Dre Brown
Brown ran for 131 yards on 18 carries last week against Purdue, both career highs, and he’ll be going against a Rutgers defense that’s last in the conference against the run. Brown is averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and he leads the league with his 27.6-yard average on kick returns.
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