The Big Ten currently boasts three teams in the Top 25 — Ohio State, Indiana and Northwestern — which is definitely the trio we all saw coming. This week, Iowa and Minnesota kick things off in a pivotal West division matchup on Friday evening. Penn State and Nebraska meet with a combined 0-5 record as precious momentum hangs in the balance.
The 10th-ranked Hoosiers look to continue their winning ways against the somewhat stumbling Michigan State Spartans. The Buckeyes are no doubt preparing to hang half a hundred on Maryland if at all possible. Finally, it appears COVID-19 can only keep Wisconsin down so long as the Badgers return to the field to clash with a Michigan team all too close to the East cellar.
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Saturday, Nov. 14 unless otherwise noted. Ohio State at Maryland was canceled on Wednesday afternoon due to COVID-19 concerns with the Terrapins and was removed from this list.
Iowa (-3.5) at Minnesota, 6 p.m. (Fri.)
The Hawkeyes appeared to have turned a corner last week with a 49-7 pasting of Michigan State. While the Golden Gophers boast a bevy of offensive talent, their defense has been anything but impressive. Iowa is in a position to make up for its two frustrating losses out of the gate and can capitalize on almost inevitable turnovers by P.J. Fleck's crew. Iowa 31, Minnesota 21
Penn State (-3) at Nebraska, 12 p.m.
Those who watched these two teams play last week may flip a coin to determine their pick. It's hard to say anyone expected them to meet winless. While the Huskers' defense has stepped up on several occasions, the offense has been stagnant and sloppy.
Sean Clifford has been everything we've expected but the Nittany Lions' defense looks like Micah Parsons took its energy with him after opting out. Which team wins appears to ultimately fall on Scott Frost and how long Adrian Martinez and/or Luke McCaffrey is in the game. Here's guessing the former gets another start while the latter comes in late, but it's not enough. Penn State 30, Nebraska 24
Indiana (-7) at Michigan State, 12 p.m.
The Spartans had a rivalry factor to motivate them against Michigan. They didn't have that against Rutgers or Iowa nor will they have it against a dynamic, top-10-ranked Hoosiers team. While Michigan State should be able to generate points against Indiana, Michael Penix Jr.'s secret is out. Even though he's on everyone's radar, stopping him is a completely different matter and his fireworks will continue in East Lansing. Indiana 35, Michigan State 21
Illinois (+7) at Rutgers, 12 p.m.
Coran Taylor is no Brandon Peters and the Illini need the latter to generate an optimal amount of offense, moderate though that may be. While Lovie Smith has a team in disarray, Greg Schiano's is exceeding expectations. Noah Vedral won't be confused with an all-conference quarterback. But he leads the Scarlet Knights' offense well enough to notch another win against a defense that gives up an average of 39 points per game. Rutgers 24, Illinois 20
Northwestern (-2.5) at Purdue, 7:30 p.m.
In a statement that will be a surprise to absolutely no one, the Wildcats' defense dictates how this game fleshes out. They've yet to surrender a second-half point while Purdue tightens up too late. Even if wide receiver Riley Lees can't go, Northwestern gets running back Isaiah Bowser back. Combine his production with Drake Anderson's and Purdue offers a chance for Pat Fitzgerald's bunch to claim inside track for the Big Ten West crown. Northwestern 27, Purdue 23
Wisconsin (-4.5) at Michigan, 7:30 p.m.
Not only will this be Wisconsin's second game of the season, but the Badgers are in the same position they would've been versus Nebraska or Purdue. Wisconsin quarterback Danny Vanden Boom looks to follow in the footsteps of the still sidelined Graham Mertz and light up the night sky against the Wolverines. While not necessarily expecting him to go as long between incomplete passes, Vanden Boom has the talent available to repeatedly puncture this Wolverines defense. And it doesn't matter that this one is Ann Arbor when it's a choice between Paul Chryst and Jim Harbaugh, I'll go with the Badger head man every time. Wisconsin 34, Michigan 28
Last Week: 3-3