By Jeff O'Brien

Things to watch this week in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

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No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

It’s the first time since 1964 that these teams have met when both are in the top 10. Both are 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, and the winner remains at least tied for first in the East Division. The Spartans are going for their 10th win in 14 meetings with their so-called “big brother.” The key for both teams is keeping the ground games under control. Michigan State’s tough-running Kenneth Walker III leads the nation in rushing (142.4 ypg) and yards after contact (737), according to Pro Football Focus. Blake Corrum and Hassan Haskins combine for 190 yards per game for Michigan.

BEST MATCHUP

No. 9 Iowa vs. Wisconsin

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

This key West Division game matches two bad offenses against two great defenses. The over-under of 36.5 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, is lowest in the FBS this season. Iowa (6-1, 3-1) has been carried by a defense that’s generated a nation-best 21 takeaways. The Badgers (4-3, 2-2) have committed a Big Ten-worst 17 turnovers, and only Illinois and Indiana have fewer than Wisconsin’s 17 offensive touchdowns.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – OCTOBER 23: C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes directs his team during the second quarter in the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Indiana University on October 23, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

No. 5 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0) is an 18 1/2-point favorite at the Horseshoe against No. 20 Penn State (5-2, 2-2), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Nittany Lions have been awful since Iowa knocked QB Sean Clifford out of that Oct. 9 game in Iowa City. Clifford returned last week and was limited in the nine-overtime home loss to Illinois. No one is playing better than Ohio State right now, and the Buckeyes can put the kibosh on what had been a season of high expectations at Penn State.

LONG SHOT

IOWA CITY, IOWA- OCTOBER 16: Wide receiver Milton Wright #0 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates with linebacker Clyde Washington #42 and running back Dylan Downing #38 after a stop in the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Purdue is a 7 1/2-point underdog on the road against Nebraska, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Boilermakers were sloppy in their home loss to Wisconsin last week, but the week before their three-quarterback offense flummoxed an elite Iowa defense. If they take care of the ball and get star receiver David Bell going, the Boilermakers can beat the Huskers for the third time in five meetings.

IMPACT PLAYER

Maryland DB Jakorian Bennett has played only six games but is ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten with 1.3 pass breakups per game. He stands to be a big problem for Indiana, which is without QB Michael Penix Jr. (shoulder) and might not have backup Jack Tuttle (foot) available. If Tuttle is out, freshman Donaven McCulley or walk-on Grant Gremel would play against the Terrapins.

 

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