Ohio State puts its nation-best 17-game winning streak on the line in a key contest at unbeaten Northwestern in this week's best Big Ten game.
ESPN's "GameDay" crew will be in Evanston for what some are calling the biggest Northwestern home game in its history. Hyperbole? No question. But this is a veteran Wildcats team that looks to have the necessary offensive components to make Ohio State sweat. Whether the Wildcats' defense is up to the task is the question.
There are no questions about the defenses in the Iowa-Michigan State game, which should be a low-scoring affair thanks to numerous NFL prospects on both defenses. If you're looking for high-caliber offensive talent, though, this won't be the game for you.
Here is a look at all the contests involving league teams this week:
5. Minnesota at Michigan, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional/ESPN2
Rating: 2 stars
The skinny: This is for the "Little Brown Jug," and Michigan likely will keep it: The Wolverines have won 38 of the past 41 vs. the Gophers. Keep an eye on Minnesota senior DT Ra'Shede Hageman (6-foot-6, 311 pounds). He is a potential first-rounder and will be going against a Michigan interior line that hasn't played well. He could dominate up front. Also keep an eye on Michigan QB Devin Gardner, who has been a turnover machine this season. If he plays mistake-free football, Michigan will roll.
4. Penn State at Indiana, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Rating: 2.5 stars
The skinny: Indiana's prolific passing attack has to make Penn State coach Bill O'Brien a little uneasy. Indiana junior WR Cody Latimer (6-3, 215) will put a lot of pressure on Penn State sophomore CBs Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams, and they may not be up to the task. Big things were expected from Penn State sophomore DE Deion Barnes (6-4, 245) this season, but he has struggled. Can he get to IU quarterbacks? Indiana's offensive line has done a good job in pass production, allowing just four sacks. Penn State senior DT DaQuan Jones (6-3, 318) should have his way inside. Penn State's biggest advantage, though, should be with junior WR Allen Robinson (6-3, 210) going against Indiana's corners. Look for Robinson to again show why scouts think highly of him.
3. Illinois at Nebraska, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Rating: 3.5 stars
The skinny: The health of Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, who may not play because of turf toe, makes this interesting. Illini senior LB Jonathan Brown (6-1, 230) was mediocre last season but is playing much better this fall and looks like a sure third-day draft pick. He should be busy trying to corral Nebraska TB Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska's defense has been awful, but sophomore DE Randy Gregory (6-6, 255) slowly is becoming a force.
2. Michigan State at Iowa, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Rating: 3.5 stars
The skinny: Don't expect a lot of points. Both defenses are stout -- Michigan State leads the nation in total defense, Iowa is seventh -- and neither offense is that proficient. There are a lot of linebackers to watch in this one. There are five senior starters between the two teams, and each has the potential and production to be drafted: Iowa's Anthony Hitchens (6-1, 233), Christian Kirksey (6-2, 235) and James Morris (6-2, 240) and Michigan State's Denicos Allen (5-11, 218) and Max Bullough (6-3, 245). Iowa junior DT Carl Davis (6-5, 315), Michigan State senior CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197) and Michigan State senior SS Isaiah Lewis (5-10, 208) are others to watch. Iowa junior OT Brandon Scherff (6-5, 315) vs. Michigan State sophomore DE Shilique Calhoun (6-4, 250) should be a good individual matchup. Looking for explosive offensive players? This game has none.
1. Ohio State at Northwestern, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Rating: 4 stars
The skinny: Ohio State is coming off a physical victory over Wisconsin, whereas Northwestern was off last week and gets explosive starting TB Venric Mark (5-8, 175) back from injury. Northwestern senior DE Tyler Scott (6-4, 265) is one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten; he plays left end, meaning Ohio State RT Taylor Decker (6-7, 315) -- the only new starter on the line -- will be in the spotlight. Northwestern junior S Ibraheim Campbell (5-11, 215) has all-league talent (he has three interceptions this season) and will be tasked with making sure Ohio State receivers such as junior Devin Smith (6-1, 198) and senior Corey "Philly" Brown (6-0, 190) don't make big plays. Ohio State junior Ryan Shazier (6-2, 230) might be the best linebacker in the nation, so look for Northwestern to try to take advantage of sophomore Joshua Perry (6-4, 246), the Buckeyes' other starting outside 'backer. Northwestern's best wide receiver is junior Tony Jones (6-0, 200), and Ohio State junior CB Bradley Roby (5-11, 192) will be trying to make amends for last week's performance, when he was burned repeatedly by Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis. Jones isn't as savvy as Abbrederis, but he is faster.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.