Big Ten Week Eight Preview
If Michigan State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) beats rival No. 23 Michigan (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) Saturday, it will be the Spartans’ fifth-straight win in the series, a school record. The Wolverines have won their last two games, however, and are beginning to hit their stride offensively, scoring more than 40 points a game in victories over Purdue and Illinois.
Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) QB Braxton Miller needs just 88 yards rushing to become the first quarterback in Buckeyes history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Heisman Trophy candidate ranks seventh in the nation in rushing (130 ypg) but must contend with Purdue (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) DT Kawann Short, who ranks third nationally amongst active players in career tackles for loss (42.5).
Nebraska (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) faces Legends Division opponents in five of its final six games, beginning this week with Northwestern (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten). The Cornhuskers haven’t traveled to Northwestern in 82 years. All eyes have been on Wildcats QB/WR Kain Colter, who went 10-of-10 passing and rushed for a touchdown in last week’s win over Minnesota. But RB Venric Mark leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards with 185 per game, ranking fourth nationally. The Huskers boast some explosive weapons of their own, including WR Kenny Bell, who leads the nation with 23 yards per reception.
Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) meets Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) in a matchup that dates back to 1890. The Golden Gophers and Badgers have met 122 times, making the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe the most-played rivalry in the nation. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball leads the Big Ten with 11 rushing touchdowns and now owns the Big Ten career record with 72 TDs.
Both Iowa (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) and Penn State (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) enter the weekend unbeaten in conference play. The Hawkeyes secured head coach Kirk Ferentz’s 100th career victory in a double-overtime win at Michigan State last week. The Nittany Lions have won four straight after dropping the first two games of the year.
In non-conference action, Indiana (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) travels to Annapolis to take on Navy.