ERIC OLSON, AP College Football Writer
Some things to watch in the Big Ten during Week 11 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Floyd of Rosedale isn’t the only thing at stake when Minnesota visits Iowa. The Hawkeyes suddenly are in serious playoff contention, moving up four spots to No. 5 in this week’s College Football Playoff top 25. This team is not the one that lost 51-14 last year in Minneapolis, but this is a tricky game. The Gophers, who removed the interim tag from coach Tracy Claeys’ title on Wednesday, are no pushovers even though they’ve lost four of their last five. They came up a yard short of beating Michigan two weeks ago and stayed with Ohio State to the end last week. Beating an unbeaten Iowa would make their season.
BEST MATCHUP: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld vs. Michigan’s secondary. Sudfeld is passing for a Big Ten-leading 279 yards a game and has thrown for 15 touchdowns, but he’s coming off one of his worst games of the season against Iowa. Michigan leads the nation in pass efficiency defense, has held four opponents under 100 yards passing and Jourdan Lewis is averaging a nation-leading 2.1 pass breakups.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Ohio State is riding a number of streaks. The Buckeyes have won 29 Big Ten regular-season games in a row, tying the conference-games record set by Florida State in the ACC from 1992-95. The Buckeyes also are on the longest active overall streak in the nation, and second-longest in program history, at 22 straight. And they’re 16-0 in true road games since Urban Meyer took over in 2012.
LONG SHOT: Rutgers is a 10-point underdog at home against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers haven’t won back-to-back games this season, and it will be worth watching how they respond to traveling halfway across the country after upsetting Michigan State last week. The Scarlet Knights, who have lost three straight, must get their passing game going. Star receiver Leonte Carroo has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. He was listed as questionable early in the week.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett is coming off a one-game suspension and is expected to start on the road against Illinois. The College Football Playoff committee has kept the Buckeyes No. 3 in their rankings because it believes the defending national champions, with their QB situation appearing settled, are on the verge of playing their best football. Barrett could use a solid prep against Illinois before defining regular-season games against Michigan State and Michigan.
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