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Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Mark Weisman

Mark Weisman

“Two weeks until Ohio State-Michigan State” may as well be the theme for this Saturday in the Big Ten.

A nice way to put this week would be to call it a table-setting Saturday. Northwestern and Iowa meet in an important game to set the table for a Wildcats’ bowl bid or the Hawkeyes’ hopes for a division title.

Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah have a chance to rack up huge numbers to further their Heisman campaigns. And the Buckeyes are looking to pick up one more win before a critical matchup against the Spartans.

Again, that’s a nice way to put this week in the Big Ten. 

Week 10 Previews and Predictions:
ACC|Big 12|Pac-12|SEC

Big Ten Week 10 Game Power Rankings

All games Saturday. All times Eastern.

1. Northwestern at Iowa

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Noon, Big Ten Network

This isn’t the most sexy game in the Big Ten this season, but this is a key momentum game for both teams. Iowa hardly looked the part of Big Ten West contender by losing 38-31 at Maryland two weeks ago. Now, Iowa can’t afford to limp into its backloaded schedule against Minnesota on the road and Wisconsin and Nebraska at home. Northwestern, meanwhile, needs to win three of its final five games for bowl eligibility. Both teams are emerging from off weeks, but while Northwestern is getting healthier, Iowa has a host of problems. Among them is a two-game suspension for starting linebacker Reggie Spearman, who was charged with a DUI on Saturday. Iowa has allowed 528 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in the last two games. Meanwhile, Northwestern has found a workhorse in the running attack in Justin Jackson, who has topped 100 yards in three consecutive games.

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2. Illinois at Ohio State

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8 p.m., ABC

Hey, Illinois, congratulations on an upset of Minnesota, now you get to face Ohio State in Columbus. The Illini will face a Buckeyes team looking to make a statement on multiple fronts. Ohio State was ranked No. 16 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, giving the one-loss Buckeyes quite a climb if they want to get into the playoff mix. The Buckeyes needed overtime to beat Penn State 31-24 in a game defined by shoddy officiating. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett saw his progress stall thanks to shaky offensive line play, two interceptions and a knee sprain. Illinois is coming of arguably its best defensive performance of the season after holding Minnesota to 5.8 yards per play. For a team allowing more than 300 rushing yards per game in conference play, that qualifies as a solid effort.

3. Maryland at Penn State

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Noon, ESPN2

Some rivalry: Penn State and Maryland haven’t played since 1993, and the Terrapins haven’t won since 1961. Still, the two coaches during the summer talked like this was some kind of rivalry. Penn State likes to recruit in Maryland’s backyard, and as Terps coach Randy Edsall admitted, the Nittany Lions have rarely missed on prospects there. This has all the makings of a low-scoring, ugly game. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown will face a solid Penn State defense after averaging only 4.6 yards per attempt with one touchdown and three interceptions in his last three games. In theory, Penn State’s lackluster offensive line and Big Ten-worst run game could pick up confidence against a Maryland defense that ranks 13th in the league against the run. But the Nittany Lions’ meager running attack is now down a tailback following a season-ending injury to Zack Zwinak.

4. Wisconsin at Rutgers

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Noon, ESPN

Get ready to watch Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon go wild again. Rutgers allowed a total of 616 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and 7.6 yards per carry in its last two games against Ohio State and Nebraska. Containing Gordon isn't the only problem for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, already down starting running back Paul James, likely will be down to backup quarterback Chris Laviano. Starting QB Gary Nova left last week’s game against Nebraska with a knee injury.

5. Indiana at Michigan

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3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

The rematch will be hard-pressed to live up to the 63-47 shootout Michigan won a year ago. The Wolverines have topped 20 points just once since Sept. 13, and the Hoosiers are down to a freshman third-string quarterback, who completed 5-of-15 passes for 11 yards in his only start this season. Look for a steady diet of IU running back Tevin Coleman against Michigan’s defense, which is actually an interesting matchup. Coleman has rushed for at least 120 yards in each game this season while Michigan is third in the Big Ten in rush defense.

6. Purdue at Nebraska

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3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

The Ameer Abdullah watch continues as the Nebraska tailback faces a Purdue defense that allowed 294 rushing yards to Michigan State and 285 yards to Minnesota in the last two games.

Big Ten Week 10 Staff Picks

 

David Fox

Braden Gall

Steven Lassan

Mitch Light

Northwestern at Iowa (-4)

NW 28-21

Iowa 31-30

Iowa 24-20

Iowa 24-19

Maryland at Penn State (-3 1/2)

Md 17-13

PSU 30-27

PSU 27-24

Md 20-10

Wisconsin (-11) at Rutgers

Wisc 42-14

Wisc 40-24

Wisc 38-17

Wisc 31-13

Purdue at Nebraska (-23 1/2)

Neb 38-17

Neb 45-21

Neb 45-20

Neb 41-24

Indiana at Michigan (-7)

IU 35-28

Mich 19-17

Mich 31-20

IU 34-30

Illinois at Ohio State (-28)

OSU 41-10

OSU 48-21

OSU 45-17

OSU 41-10

Last Week

4-1

4-1

4-1

3-2

This Season

61-19

59-21

60-20

55-26