Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 11 Michigan at No. 13 Wisconsin
Both teams are coming off open dates heading into a matchup that should provide some clarity about how good each is. Michigan’s new spread offense has been unable to gain traction because of turnovers and penalties, and the Wolverines (2-0) haven’t won in Madison since 2001. Wisconsin (2-0) has outscored two overmatched opponents 111-0 to become the first Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1980 to score at least 100 points and allow no points in the first two games. This is an opportunity for the Badgers to show they’re the team to beat in the Big Ten West and that their 8-5 record in 2018 was a one-year blip.
Illinois RB Reggie Corbin vs. Nebraska defense
Nebraska (2-1) hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher and is giving up just 2.2 yards per carry. Corbin will give the Cornhuskers their best test so far. He’s averaging 7.5 yards per carry for the Illini (2-1) and, coming off a hip pointer that sidelined him for most of two games, ran for 144 yards on 18 carries against Eastern Michigan last week. Corbin’s 8.48-per-carry average in 2018 ranked third in the nation among players with at least 10 attempts a game.
FACTS AND FIGURES
It’ll be a Big East reunion when Boston College visits Rutgers (1-1). The teams are meeting for the first time since 2004, BC’s last season before moving to the ACC. The Eagles went 12-1-1 in the series when both teams were in the Big East, winning each of the last 10 meetings. … Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr., who missed last week’s loss to Ohio State with an undisclosed injury, could be a game-time decision when the Hoosiers (2-1) host UConn. … Ohio State’s home game against Miami (Ohio) was scheduled in April 2017 after the Buckeyes (3-0) and TCU modified their scheduled home-and-home series for 2018-19 and played a neutral-site game in 2018.
Northwestern, 9 ½-point underdog at home to Michigan State
The Wildcats (1-1) have won three straight and four of five against Michigan State (2-1), and they bounced back from a season-opening loss to Stanford with a solid win over UNLV. Michigan State figures to show up angry after its quirky home loss to Arizona State. Northwestern ran for 276 yards against a horrid UNLV defense. The Spartans have been stuffing ground games for years and are doing it as well as ever this season. That means Hunter Johnson is going to have to be much better than his two-game passing stats show: 43-percent completion rate, three interceptions, one touchdown.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Michigan QB Shea Patterson
Patterson lost three fumbles in the first two games and has had two weeks to stew over his flat performance against Army. He said this week he played with an oblique injury the first two games but now is 100-percent healthy. He needs to elevate his game against a Wisconsin defense that allowed a total of 215 yards while posting back-to-back shutouts.