1 B1G thing for every team in Week 7
The Big Ten and the AP poll have coexisted since 1936 — so long ago that the University of Chicago was one of the 10.
In that very first poll, released Oct. 19 of that year, 3 Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 5. But never have as many as 5 Big Ten teams filled out the Top 10. Until this week.
No. 2 Iowa, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State, No. 8 Michigan and No. 10 Michigan State are all making history. Now comes the hard part — staying there. That will prove to be a near-impossible task as the schools dive deeper into conference play.
But probably not this week.
Here’s one thing we are looking to see from each B1G team in Week 7.
Open week: Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Penn State
Michigan State — Can Kenneth Walker keep his Heisman campaign moving?
Kenneth Walker III is threatening to run away with the national rushing title, averaging 20 yards per game more than his nearest competitors.
Following his 233-yard performance at Rutgers, we’re now seeing Walker’s name pop up in what’s proving to be a wide-open race for the Heisman Trophy.
It seems unlikely Indiana will be the team to slow down the hype, as the Hoosiers rank 75th nationally against the run.
Indiana — Will Jack Tuttle get the offense moving?
All indications are that Jack Tuttle should start at quarterback this week for the injured Michael Penix Jr.
With an extra week to prepare for Michigan State, the hope for the Hoosiers is that Tuttle can jumpstart a passing offense that ranks 10th in the Big Ten. Given that the Spartans have the worst-rated pass defense in the league, it’s possible.
Nebraska — Can the Huskers win a road game?
Nebraska is a hard-luck 0-3 on the road this year, though no one much cares about the luck as much as they care about the 0-3.
Certainly, the Huskers are capable of winning on the same field where Bowling Green did when they visit Minnesota.
Minnesota — Can the offense get out of its rut?
The Golden Gophers looked like they might have an offense worth watching in their first 3 games, cracking 30 points each time.
Last week proved to be a very welcome week off after the Gophers limped to 10 points against Bowling Green and 20 at Purdue.
Minnesota desperately needs better play from Tanner Morgan on first downs. He’s only completed 44% of his first-down throws, which consistently puts his team behind the chains.
Rutgers — Can the Knights take advantage of Northwestern’s defense?
Only Wisconsin has had fewer explosive plays than Rutgers this season, with the Scarlet Knights breaking just 18 plays for more than 20 yards.
With Northwestern’s defense allowing a league-worst 6.3 yards per play, we will see if Rutgers is capable of improving that.
Northwestern — What are the Wildcats made of?
Northwestern is rebounding from the second 49-point loss of Pat Fitzgerald’s 16-year tenure. Perhaps no team was in greater need of an open week, especially with Northwestern’s unsettled triumvirate of quarterbacks still in need of sorting.
Effort may be more important than result for the Wildcats.
Purdue — Can the Boilers do the unthinkable?
Iowa is flying high after reaching its highest ranking since 1985, which puts them right where the pesky Boilermakers want them. Just ask 2018 Ohio State.
Of course, this isn’t a team going to Ross-Ade for a night game. Purdue brings an offense that’s 11th in the B1G in scoring to Kinnick Stadium, where it will try to outscore the nation’s No. 4 scoring defense.
Iowa — Don’t get caught napping
The formula is easy enough for Iowa. Just keep winning and a spot in the College Football Playoff is secure. And nothing would be more embarrassing than stumbling a week after clearing your biggest hurdle until the season finale.
There is one legit area of concern. Purdue is solid on defense, ranking 24th nationally in yards per play allowed. Given Iowa’s offensive style, the Boilers might stick around uncomfortably long.
Wisconsin — Will the game be over in 2 hours?
The Badgers host Army, which is a fitting opponent given Camp Randall’s original use.
It’s also a fitting opponent from a stylistic perspective, as it is unlikely we will see more than 20 combined passes in this game. Even though it’s a night kickoff, Badgers fans should be on State Street well before last call.