Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Having Bye-week blues? Don’t worry the Hoosiers will be back in action next week as they take on the Golden Gophers for Homecoming. To pass that time here are three Big Ten games that you should keep an eye on this weekend.
1. No. 24. Nebraska (5-1, 2-0) at Minnesota (5-2, 1-2) Noon, ESPN- Minnesota returns home after an upset win in Evanston last weekend and Nebraska is just half a game back of Michigan State for the Legends Division lead. As a Hoosier fan, you will probably be locked into how Minnesota is playing and whether or not Philip Nelson will get the nod over backup Mitch Leidner at the helm for the 122nd ranked passing attack in the nation. Minnesota is not inept on offense however, they do rank 28th nationally running the ball. Nebraska will look to take over TCF Bank Stadium and continue their winning ways against a team that has lost its head coach and may have to start Philip Nelson at quarterback.
2. Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) at Illinois (3-3, 0-2) 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2- The Illini have not won a Big Ten game since beating the Hoosiers on October 8th, 2011. Yes, 2011. That streak does not look like it will come to an end this week as a very good Michigan State team rolls into Champaign. This game will give the Illini and Indiana a common opponent to compare to when Illinois invades Bloomington in two weeks. With that being said let’s not fall into that, “well we only lost by this much and they lost by more” trap. Illinois is a much-improved team from last year and quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse has put up some impressive numbers so far. This game could get real interesting if the Michigan State offense has a similar performance to last week’s against Purdue and the Illini defense puts forth their best effort of the year. Illinois’ offense is good enough to score, ranked 35th nationally with 35.3 per game.
3. Penn State (4-2, 1-1) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) 8pm, ABC- This is the headliner for the conference and is a good enough game to get the prime time ABC spot this Saturday. While on paper this game may not appear to jump out at you, this rivalry has had some great games in the past. The home team has not one this match-up since 2010 when the Buckeyes blew out Penn State 38-14 at the Shoe. The Big Ten badly needs Ohio State to hang on to its Top-5 ranking and come out victorious, but this Penn State team won’t make it easy. Bill O’Brien’s team is coming off a bye week after a 4-OT win against Michigan and they should be ready to play. The Buckeyes escaped a tough match-up against Iowa last week, edging the Hawkeyes 34-24 to keep their record clean under Urban Myer. This game is what the Big Ten is all about, two teams that are going to knock the snot out of each other and try to break the goal line.
So Hoosier fans while there is no IU football Saturday, you can still relax in front of your television and watch some Big Ten games. So sit back, take notes if you want, and enjoy the final Saturday of October.