1 storyline for each B1G team in Week 12, including Taulia Tagovailoa's last shot at glory
The Any Given Saturday motif doesn’t work very well in the Big Ten these days.
But with only 2 weekends left of regular-season play, ya gotta believe. Or at least tune in out of morbid curiosity or to look for signs of hope for 2024. Turning your attention to basketball before Thanksgiving isn’t going to fill the void in your soul. Ya gotta watch your team, and ya gotta care. About something. … Anything.
Saturday Tradition is here to help, offering 1 storyline for each team as some B1G seniors, such as Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, get ready for their final home game.
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No. 3 Michigan (10-0) at Maryland (6-4), noon ET (Fox)
Michigan — The circus travels to College Park
There’s actually a lot to fret over for fans despite the Wolverines being 19.5-point favorites. Will ringleader Jim Harbaugh be in SECU Stadium, at a local hotel or at home in Ann Arbor tending to his chickens? Are JJ McCarthy’s arm and psyche okay? He has no TD passes the past 2 weeks, and threw only 8 times last weekend against Penn State. A more well-rounded team performance against the Terps would calm fans’ nerves heading into The Game.
Maryland — It’s now or never for Taulia Tagovailoa
Tua’s little brother has thrown for a school record 10,648 yards and gotten the Terps to bowl eligibility 3 straight seasons while going 22-17 as their starting quarterback. But a true signature win has eluded him. The highlights are a triumph over unranked Penn State in 2020 and a 16-12 Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over No. 25 NC State last year. It’s not likely Maryland will take down mighty Michigan, but the outgoing QB is the only reason to think it’s even remotely possible. He did keep the Terps within a touchdown last year in a 34-27 loss at Michigan.
Rutgers (6-4) at No. 12 Penn State (8-2), noon ET (FS1)
Rutgers — Upset victory? How about just scoring.
Penn State has a history of hangover losses. But coming off its 22-0 loss to Iowa, Rutgers might need to set a more modest goal. Like scoring. Is Greg Schiano going to ride limited QB Gavin Wimsatt into 2024? Is there any upside remaining? The Scarlet Knights sometimes rise up when it’s least expected. This would be one of those times.
Penn State — What now for the offense?
The fans who show up at Beaver Stadium — and it’ll be tens of thousands less than last week — will want to see what if anything can be different in the post-Mike Yurcich period. Can interim OCs Ja’Juan Seider and Ty Howle cook up something less bland with the same ingredients?
Michigan State (3-7) at Indiana (3-7), noon ET (BTN)
Michigan State — Quitters?
The Spartans have lost 7 of 8 and are coming off a thumping at the hands of Ohio State. We’ll see who still wants to play hard for interim coach Harlon Barnett.
Indiana — Will Brendan Sorsby keep proving himself?
Sorsby, a 6-3, 230-pound redshirt freshman out of Texas, seems to have claimed the QB1 spot with 3 straight strong outings, even though only 1 ended in victory. He’s averaging 248 yards per game on 65.1% passing with 7 TDs and 2 picks over that span. A couple wins to close the season might secure jobs for Sorsby and coach Tom Allen.
Purdue (3-7) at Northwestern (5-5), noon ET (BTN)
Purdue — Feel-good finish possible if Boilers play their Card right
Coming off a 49-30 pasting of Minnesota, the Boilers and redshirt junior QB Hudson Card can set a positive vibe heading into the offseason. First-year coach Ryan Walters has a chance to finish strong with this game and a visit from Indiana on tap.
Northwestern — Feeling Braun-y about the future?
The hazing scandal is fading in the rearview as former FCS assistant David Braun, just 38 years old, sits on the verge of a bowl berth as Pat Fitzgerald’s full-time successor, which became official this week. Reports of the Wildcats’ demise may have been exaggerated.
Illinois (5-5) at No. 16 Iowa (8-2), 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
Illinois — Will stud QB Paddock stay in the paddock?
Backup and final-year senior John Paddock threw for 507 yards last week, but he’s not Bret Bielema’s man as the Illini try to keep themselves and 4 other teams alive in the B1G West race. Luke Altmyer is healthy and will return to his starting job, Bielema has announced. Paddock will be the ace in the hole after late-game heroics the past 2 games.
Iowa — Win and the Hawkeyes go to Indy
The team that is 123rd in the FBS in scoring and dead last in total offense will clinch a spot in the B1G title game with a win. DC Phil Parker is earning his salary ($1.4 million plus bonuses).
Minnesota (5-5) at No. 2 Ohio State (10-0), 4 p.m. ET (BTN)
Minnesota — Don’t get hurt!
Those who are healthy need to stay healthy for Week 13’s matchup with Wisconsin, where a bowl berth can be won. PJ Fleck doesn’t have this level of motivational speech, does he?
Ohio State — Can the Buckeyes cover the over by themselves?
The over/under is set at 49.5 points, and Minnesota’s injury-depleted defense gave up 49 to Purdue last Saturday. Of course, Ryan Day might be shutting down Kyle McCord, TreVeyon Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. shortly after halftime.
Nebraska (5-5) at Wisconsin (5-5), 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Nebraska — Will bowl eligibility slip from the Huskers’ grasp?
If the Huskers can stop turning the ball over (FBS-worst 27 turnovers), maybe they can reach a bowl game for the first time since 2016. Dinged up Heinrich Haarberg, Jeff Sims and Chubba Purdy all threw picks in last week’s 13-10 loss to Maryland. Matt Rhule will have to start one of them and hope for the best.
Wisconsin — Show us something, Phil Longo!
The Badgers haven’t scored more than 14 points in their 3 consecutive losses. Air Raid, Dairy Raid, whatever, the offense isn’t working under the new regime of 1st-year coach Luke Fickell and 1st-year OC Phil Longo. Prized transfer QB Tanner Mordecai returned from injured last week and posted solid numbers (31-45, 255 yards), except for points, in a 24-10 loss to Northwestern.