Things to watch during Week 8 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 7 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at No. 3 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0), Saturday, 11 a.m. CDT (Fox)
The Nittany Lions are riding the momentum of an 11-game win streak into the Horseshoe, where they haven’t won since 2011. Ohio State has outscored its last two opponents 78-24 despite being short-handed at running back. The Buckeyes are 4 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Penn State comes in No. 1 in the country in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense and Ohio State isn’t far behind in either category. The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are 1-2 in the Big Ten in offense.
Lions coach James Franklin is 1-8 against Ohio State and 0-9 on the road against top-10 opponents.
Minnesota (3-3, 1-2) at No. 24 Iowa (6-1, 3-1), Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CDT (NBC)
The Floyd of Rosedale trophy game is one of the beloved rivalries in college football, and the Gophers need a win in Iowa City for the first time since 1999 to stay in the Big Ten West Division race.
The Hawkeyes have controlled the series recently, winning eight in a row. Six of those games were decided by seven points or less.
This one may not be pleasing to the eye. Iowa’s offense is ranked 133rd, and last, in the FBS. Minnesota’s is 121st. FanDuel Sportsbook had the over-under set at 31.5 total points on Wednesday, matching last year’s over-under for this game and the lowest in the FBS since at least 1995.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Rutgers at Indiana matches teams with the worst records against Big Ten East opponents since the divisional split in 2014. Rutgers is 10-46 and Indiana is 15-42. The Hoosiers lead the series 5-4. … If Rutgers wins, the Scarlet Knights would be 3-2 in Big Ten play for the first time. … No. 2 Michigan and Michigan State meet in East Lansing with the Wolverines leading the series 12-11 since 2000. Four of the Wolverines’ losses have come when they were ranked and the Spartans were not. … Penn State’s 11 straight wins by 14 or more points are a school record and most in the Big Ten since Michigan had a streak of 13 such wins that ended in 1904.
Northwestern is an 11 1/2-point underdog at Nebraska and probably has overachieved under interim coach David Braun. The Cornhuskers have shown progress under Matt Rhule but it’s not certain they’ve shaken their tendency to lose games they should win. Eight of the 12 meetings since 2011 have been decided by three points or less or in overtime. Northwestern holds a 5-3 edge in those games.
Wisconsin QB Braedyn Locke will make his first career start on the road against Illinois with the injured Tanner Mordecai out for the season. Locke had taken a total of six snaps as a collegian in a mop-up role before the Badgers called on him late in the first half of a 15-6 loss against Iowa. He led third-quarter drives leading to field goals but in the fourth quarter took a safety, fumbled and threw an interception. The Badgers need him to be sharper against a defense not nearly as good as Iowa’s.