Saturday, October 26, 2013
Big Ten Week 9 primer
By Brian Bennett
The Big Ten menu is extremely light today (gee thanks, double bye). But there should be some tasty morsels, plus an appetizing main course at night in Columbus.
Nebraska (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) at Minnesota (5-2, 1-2), ESPN: The Huskers have won 16 straight against the Gophers, though the two have played infrequently in the past 40 years. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez could make his return from turf toe, while Minnesota will have to decide again between Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner at quarterback. Jerry Kill is expected to attend but not coach the game for the Gophers, who need one more win for bowl eligibility and are looking for a signature victory.
Northwestern (4-3, 0-3) at Iowa (4-3, 1-2), Big Ten Network: It's getting late early for both these teams in conference play and in the chase for a bowl bid. With tough schedules remaining for both, this could be a key swing game. Northwestern looks to snap a three-game losing streak and hopes getting quarterback Kain Colter back will help in that quest. Iowa has lost four of its last five to the Wildcats but has home-field advantage and possibly a new-look, tight-end heavy attack on offense.
3: 30 p.m. ET
Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) at Illinois (3-3, 0-2), ABC/ESPN2: The league's best defense goes to Champaign to face an Illinois offense that's averaging 35.3 ppg this season. Will the Spartans be looking ahead to Michigan next week, or will they focus on the task at hand this week? And were Michigan State's struggles on offense versus Purdue last week a blip or a troubling regression? Meanwhile, the Illini look to break a 16-game Big Ten losing streak.
8 p.m. ET
Penn State (4-2, 1-1) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0), ABC: The Buckeyes will put their 19-game winning streak on the line against a team with nothing to lose. Lots of interesting matchups in this one, including Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby vs. Penn State star receiver Allen Robinson, the Buckeyes' secondary in general vs. quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions' defensive front against the best offensive line in the league. This should be a fun way to end the Big Ten's Saturday.
Byes: Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin
Brrr. Bundle up out there, especially in Columbus, where the temperatures could dip into the 30s by the end of the game. It should be warmer elsewhere, but the forecast calls for winds up to 25 mph in Iowa City, Champaign and Minneapolis.