Things to Watch During Game Week 13 of the Big Ten Conference:
MATCH OF THE WEEK I
No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) at No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0, No. 2 CFP)
The stakes are always high in The Game, never higher than on Saturday. The winner will represent the East in the Big Ten championship game and remain in prime position for a college football playoff bid. The loser still has a way into the playoffs and, worst-case scenario, a seat in a New Year’s Six Bowl. The Buckeyes have been stewing over their first loss to Michigan since 2011 for a year. The Wolverines are targeting Ohio State back-to-back for the first time since 1999-2000. This is the fourth time in 19 encounters that both teams have finished in the top five when they meet.
GAME OF THE WEEK II
Nebraska (3-8, 2-6) vs. Iowa (7-4, 5-3)
Of course, this Black Friday game isn’t nearly as impressive as Michigan-Ohio State, but it does highlight the remarkable turnaround from Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Iowa will secure the West title and return to the Big Ten championship game with a win over the passed out Cornhuskers. Iowa has had four straight wins since opening conference play 1-3. The Hawkeyes, who play in the worst division of the Power Five, made up for one of the nation’s worst offenses by having a defense that ranks among the best.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Wisconsin is entering the Paul Bunyan’s Ax game against Minnesota after winning 26 of their 31 traveling trophy games. … Penn State’s Nick Singleton (863) and Kaytron Allen (748) are the first pair of FBS freshman running backs on the same team, each rushing more than 700 yards ahead of Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson (1,013) and Kevin Marks (845). 2018. …Of the three Big Ten quarterbacks with five 400-yard passing plays since 2000, two are active — Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell. The third was the late Dwayne Haskins, who had all five for Ohio State in 2018. … As of 2018, Nebraska’s .279 win ratio in Big Ten games (12-31) is the second-worst behind Rutgers’ .136 (6-38). Ohio State ranks first with a .950 (38-2).
Indiana is a 10 1/2 point home underdog against Purdue according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The game for the Old Oaken Bucket is the Hoosiers’ bowl — unless they reach 5-7 and are needed to fill a bowl slot — and there’s nothing they love more than their rival’s hopes on participation in the conference championship game to nullify the event that Iowa loses to Nebraska on Friday. The Hoosiers have some mojo after a double overtime win at Michigan State ended a seven-game losing streak.
Illinois RB Chase Brown is poised to significantly increase his nation-leading total of 1,582 rushing yards against a Northwest defense, allowing for a Big Ten-worst 4.64 yards per carry. The Doak Walker semifinalist is averaging a bowl subdivision high of 28.1 carries per game and has had at least 29 in five of their last six games. The Illini have lost three straight games and need to make their way into the Big Ten’s title game to sneak in, win the Land of Lincoln Trophy and make Iowa and Purdue lose.
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