Things to watch during Week 5 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (3-1, 1-0)
This is a rematch of the 2021 Big Ten championship game that Michigan won 42-3. J.J. McCarthy will make his first career Big Ten road start in the Kinnick Stadium cauldron and go against a defense giving up less than six points per game and allowing just 3.45 yards per play. The Wolverines would love to lean on Blake Corum again after he rushed for a career-high 243 yards against Maryland. Iowa’s worst-in-the-nation offense showed improvement in its win at Rutgers. That must continue if the Hawkeyes are going to win the West Division again.
Illinois (3-1, 0-1) at Wisconsin (2-2, 0-1)
This would be an interesting matchup even if Bret Bielema weren’t returning to coach his first game at Camp Randall Stadium in 10 years. Bielema has one of the Big Ten’s best defenses so far in his second year with the Illini and Wisconsin’s offense is struggling. The Badgers still know how to play defense, and they’ll get tested by national rushing leader Chase Brown and QB Tommy DeVito. The Illini lost 24-0 to the Badgers in Champaign last year. Bielema has downplayed his going back to the place where he spent seven years and won 68 games and went to two Rose Bowls. He couldn’t deny the satisfaction that would come from a win here.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Minnesota’s average time of possession of 40 minutes, 35 seconds is nearly four minutes longer than any other FBS team. The Gophers, Georgia and Washington are the only teams that have yet to trail in a game. … Ohio State has scored at least 50 points in 17 of the 43 games under Ryan Day. … With Kaytron Allen’s 111-yard game against Central Michigan, Penn State has had two true freshmen post 100-yard games in a season for the first time since 2019. … If Maryland scores 27 points or more against Michigan State, it will mark the first time since 1984 the Terps have scored that many in seven straight games. … Rutgers heads to Ohio State 8-4 on the road since 2020, its best 12-game road stretch since 2005-07.
Indiana is a 5 1/2-point road underdog against Nebraska, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Hoosiers were a slight underdog when they beat the Huskers 38-31 in Lincoln in 2019, their most recent visit, and they played a strong second half at Cincinnati last week after a terrible start. Nebraska has lost nine of 10, with the only win against a Championship Subdivision opponent, and is in disarray with an interim head coach and interim defensive coordinator.
Purdue QBs Aidan O’Connell and Austin Burton
Coach Jeff Brohm said O’Connell’s availability for the game at Minnesota would be determined late in the week. The Boilermakers desperately need him back against the nation’s No. 2 pass defense. Purdue was expected to challenge for the title in a wide-open West, but a loss here puts a huge dent into those hopes. O’Connell has eight TD passes against one interception and averaged 333 yards in his three games.
Burton was solid in O’Connell’s place in the 28-26 win over Florida Atlantic, throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns, but it’s a big ask to expect him to win on the road against a defense of Minnesota’s caliber.
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