By Jeff O'Brien

GAME OF THE WEEK

No 9 Michigan at No. 23 Penn State

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(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

With Penn State (6-3, 3-3) out of the East Division race, the pressure is on Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines (8-1, 5-1, No. 6 CFP). Michigan needs to win in Happy Valley and next week at Maryland to set up a home showdown with Ohio State that likely will decide who goes to the conference championship game — though Michigan State could have something to say about that, too. Harbaugh has lost two straight against Penn State and is 3-3 in the series.

BEST MATCHUP

Minnesota at No. 19 Iowa

IOWA CITY, IOWA- NOVEMBER 16: Running back Tyler Goodson #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes rushes up field during the second half in front of linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin #55 of the Minnesota Gophers on November 16, 2019 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

This could be a slog in Iowa City, but it will begin the process of separating the top of the Big Ten West. The Gophers (6-3, 4-2) and Hawkeyes (7-2, 4-2, No. 20 CFP) are among four teams tied for first place. The Gophers are coming off a home loss to Illinois, they’re short of running backs and QB Tanner Morgan has been up and down all season. The Hawkeyes are expected to have a new starting QB in Alex Padilla and need this one badly because fellow West co-leaders Purdue and Wisconsin own the first tiebreaker (head-to-head wins) over them.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2, No. 18 CFP) and Northwestern (3-6, 1-5) have split their last 16 meetings, but the Badgers have won six of the last seven in Madison. The Badgers lead the nation in total defense; Northwestern is 106th in total offense. … Rutgers (4-5, 1-5) turned over the ball a season-high four times against Wisconsin last week, the most since 2018. The Scarlet Knights, who visit Indiana (2-7, 0-6), are 4-0 when committing no turnovers. The Scarlet Knights last had four games in a season with no turnovers in 2009.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Jordan Turner #54 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates his interception with Nick Herbig #19 against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the fourth quarter of a game at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

LONG SHOT

Purdue (6-3, 4-2, No. 19 CFP) is a 20 1/2-point underdog at No. 6 Ohio State (8-1, 6-0, No. 4 CFP), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Boilermakers already have knocked off two top-five opponents and, according to Sportradar, will be trying to become the first unranked team since Illinois in 1959 to beat three top-10 opponents in the same season. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is 1-0 against Ohio State with a 49-20 win in the last meeting in 2018. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 that day.

IMPACT PLAYER

Michigan State DE Jacub Panasiuk will play a key role in the Spartans’ attempt to pressure Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa. Panasiuk is the top sack man on a defense that’s second in the Big Ten with just over three a game, but he hasn’t gotten to the quarterback in two games. The Spartans (8-1, 5-1, No. 7 CFP) gave up more than 500 yards in each of those games, and Tagovailoa is capable of putting up big numbers for the Terrapins (5-4, 2-4) if given time.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – OCTOBER 09 : Drew Jordan #2 and Jacub Panasiuk #96 of the Michigan State Spartans sack quarterback Noah Vedral #0 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second half of a game at SHI Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Michigan State defeated Rutgers 31-13. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

 

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