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Big Ten Week 7 Preview: Ohio State to Visit Nebraska, Wisconsin Hosts Purdue
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12 Oct 2017 02:03 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor. (Image Source: Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

Here’s a preview of this week’s games from the Big Ten:

12:00 – Michigan @ Indiana (ABC): Making his second start of the season, Michigan senior passer John O’Korn is coming off a game in which he completed fewer than half his passes and threw three interceptions to no touchdowns in a loss to Michigan State. Indiana’s redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey is making his second-career start and looking to build on his 321-yard/two-touchdown effort (54 rushing yards). So, big edge, Hoosiers? Maybe. Let’s not forget that O’Korn had to perform in a severe thunderstorm, while Ramsey made his starting debut against Charleston Southern…let’s see how he fares against the Wolverines.

Keep an Eye On: The Michigan offensive line. The Wolverines struggled to run vs. MSU and O’Korn was sacked four times. Indiana allows just 3.6 YPC and is fourth in the Big Ten in sacks (2.8 per game).

12:00 – Rutgers @ Illinois (BTN): The battle of the Big Ten basement pits the worst team in the Big Ten East against the worst team in the Big Ten West. Rutgers has dropped 16-straight B1G games and this is their best chance to snap that streak. A loss to the Knights could mean a winless conference season for the Illini, which they last did in 2012. Quarterback Jeff George Jr. has called it a must win for Illinois. It applies to both programs.

Keep an Eye On: The youth movement. Rutgers is getting 13 true freshmen involved, with two getting starts, while the Illini have been all in starting ten true freshmen in 2017.

3:30 – Northwestern @ Maryland (ESPN2): The road to six wins…I’m not sure either team gets there but the loser will be in a very tough spot at the midway point if they want to make it back to a bowl so this another “must win-ish” for both teams type of game. The Terps in particular appear to be in trouble. Not only are they in the B1G East (tougher schedule), but they could be down to their fourth starting quarterback for Saturday’s contest. Northwestern is set at quarterback with Clayton Thorson, but their offensive line might be the worst in the conference and their receivers struggle to get separation. The ‘Cats defense was solid against Saquon Barkley but will be without linebacker Paddy Fisher and safety Godwin Igwebuike for the first half (targeting), arguably their top two defenders making them vulnerable to Maryland’s ground game early on.

Keep an Eye On: The LOS. Northwestern has allowed 12 sacks in the past two games, while Maryland has gone sack-less in the past three games.

3:30 – Purdue @ Wisconsin (BTN): Purdue has already surpassed their preseason over/under win total of 2.5 for the season (we gave you the over, you’re welcome). They are the most-improved team in the Big Ten in 2017 and are averaging an impressive 5.8 yards per play (only trails Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State in the B1G). The thing is, they’re going against one of the conference’s top defenses in Wisconsin. The Badgers will be able to move the ball, so the Boilermakers will have to match them if they’re going to keep up. Protecting the ball is another key. Purdue overcame a minus-two turnover margin last week to defeat Minnesota. They aren’t playing the Gophers this week.

Keep an Eye On: Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor. He rushed for 249 yards last week and is up to 767 yards (9 TDs) just five games into his career.

7:30 – Ohio State @ Nebraska (FS1): No team in the B1G is hotter than the Buckeyes. Since losing to Oklahoma, they’ve won the past four games by 31, 33, 56, and 48 points. The competition hasn’t been that stiff, but are the Huskers the team to test the Bucks? I think not. Nebraska just lost by 21 points at home to Wisconsin and their quarterback has thrown 10 interceptions. You want a comparative score? The Huskers struggled to beat Rutgers by 10 points at home, a team the Buckeyes shutout 56-0. There’s a reason Nebraska is a historic 24-point underdog at home on Saturday night.

Keep an Eye On: The Memorial Stadium faithful. It will be a full house, packed with rabid Cornhusker fans…at the start. What happens if they fall behind big early, as they did against the Buckeyes last season? Will the fans turn?

8:00 – Michigan State @ Minnesota (BTN): Sparty is back! Since losing to Notre Dame, the Spartans have won a pair of close games against two of the better teams in the Big Ten. Michigan State has played physical defense (20 points allowed against Iowa and Michigan combined), protected the football, and forced turnovers. Meanwhile, P.J. Fleck isn’t finding life in the B1G to be easy. The Gophers 3-0 start is in the distance and they’re now 0-2 in conference play against Maryland and Purdue, far from B1G juggernauts. The Gophers are struggling to find balance on offense.

Keep an Eye On: Minnesota’s fourth-quarter defense. In their conference losses, the Gophers have allowed 32 fourth-quarter points.  

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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