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Big Ten Week 8 Preview and Predictions

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Attention: Nebraska and Northwestern. We’re counting on you.

The most exciting week in Big Ten history this is not. Teams like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin are off. And the league’s top teams this season, Michigan State and Ohio State, are facing Indiana and Rutgers.

This week may be a bit of a snoozer, but Nebraska and Northwestern have provided some of the more memorable games in the league the last three seasons, starting with a Wildcats upset in Lincoln in 2011 and most recently a Hail Mary for a Huskers win in 2013.

Perhaps Nebraska and Northwestern don't want another dramatic game, but for the sake of the viewer, please try.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
ACC|Big 12|Pac-12|SEC

Big Ten Week 8 Game Power Rankings

All times Eastern. All games Saturday

1. Nebraska at Northwestern

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7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Northwestern might not be the team Nebraska wants to see to re-start its bid for the Big Ten West. The Cornhuskers have won the last two meetings by a combined margin of four points, the most recent victory on a Hail Mary. Before that, the Huskers lost their first meeting with Northwestern as a member of the Big Ten. The off week was fortunately timed, though, as Nebraska could get several key players back from injury — linebacker David Santos, cornerback Daniel Davie, wide receiver Kenny Bell. The Cornhuskers also will look to regroup on the offensive line after Ameer Abdullah rushed for a season-low 45 rushing yards against Michigan State two weeks ago. Northwestern is an improved team but some of their offensive issues resurfaced against Minnesota as the Wildcats managed only one play longer than 20 yards in 84 snaps against the Gophers.

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2. Iowa at Maryland

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Noon, ESPN2

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After an uneven start to the season, Iowa has won three games in a row to put the Big Ten West back on the radar. The Hawkeyes’ run game has stabilized in recent games, and the pass defense has been stifling. That perhaps makes for a bad matchup against Maryland. The Hawkeyes run game posted its top two rushing performances of the season in the last two games. Meanwhile, Iowa has held its last two opponents to 20-of-53 passing with a touchdown and five interceptions, granted that was against Purdue and an Indiana team down to a backup QB. Maryland is 13th in the Big Ten in rush defense, and quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe are coming off a four-interception performance against Ohio State.

3. Rutgers at Ohio State

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3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Ohio State’s improving offensive line will receive its toughest test since a disastrous game against Virginia Tech in Week 2. Rutgers has an active front four that has contributed to 24 sacks, tied for most in the Big Ten this season. Since giving up seven sacks in the loss to the Hokies, Ohio State has surrendered five sacks in the last three games. Meanwhile, Rutgers is getting more solid quarterback play from Gary Nova. The senior completed 22-of-39 passes for 404 yards with three touchdowns in a win over Michigan, but winning in Columbus without running back Paul James (ACL) and with an injured center will be difficult.

4. Michigan State at Indiana

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3:30 p.m., ESPN

Indiana might not be a major obstacle in Michigan State’s bid to win the Big Ten East, but the Spartans will be under pressure to put together a full four quarters. The Spartans gave up 19 unanswered points in the third quarter against Nebraska and two late touchdowns against Purdue. Indiana is just looking for any sign that the Hoosiers can salvage their season without starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers may be down to a third-string quarterback in Zander Diamont, who was expected to redshirt this season.

5. Purdue at Minnesota

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Noon, Big Ten Network

Minnesota is 2-0 in the Big Ten with a backloaded schedule against the top teams in the Big Ten West. The Gophers may still be a long shot to win the division and have little room for slip ups against teams like Purdue at home. The Boilermakers, though, have become an improved team with Austin Appleby at quarterback. Appleby is 39-of-57 for 413 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the last two games. 

Big Ten Week 8 Staff Picks

 

David Fox

Braden Gall

Steven Lassan

Mitch Light

Iowa at Maryland (-4 1/2)

Md 31-27

Iowa 34-30

Iowa 27-24

Md 27-22

Purdue at Minnesota (-12 1/2)

Minn 28-14

Minn 34-27

Minn 30-13

Minn 23-17

Michigan State (-14 1/2) at Indiana

MSU 38-10

MSU 40-20

MSU 41-10

MSU 48-27

Rutgers at Ohio State (-19 1/2)

OSU 42-10

OSU 38-24

OSU 40-17

OSU 41-20

Nebraska (-6 1/2) at Northwestern

Neb 35-28

Neb 34-30

Neb 30-24

Neb 30-23

Last Week

3-2

5-0

3-2

3-2

This Season

52-18

51-19

52-18

47-24