5 players to watch in the Big Ten in Week 12
We’re heading down the home stretch in the Big Ten, with just two weeks left in the regular season. The weather is going to be nasty just about everywhere in the conference on Saturday, so it might be a pretty raw day.
There’s still a lot on the line in several games. Here are five players to watch in the Big Ten this weekend in Week 12:
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern quarterback
Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West title last week with a 14-10 win over Iowa and losses by Purdue and Wisconsin. But there’s still no time to coast. Northwestern needs to — and wants to — play well these last two weeks, and that starts Saturday at Minnesota, a team that’s actually favored by 2 points against the division champs. The assumption there is that Northwestern has been celebrating all week, so it’s up to the senior leader at quarterback to have his team ready to play. He’s still not playing the way he’d like, so this is a good place to start against the porous Minnesota defense.
David Blough, Purdue quarterback
Purdue has hit the skids after that shocking upset of No. 2 Ohio State a month ago. A narrow loss at Michigan State wasn’t bad, but getting blown out by 31 at Minnesota was downright uncalled for. Quarterback David Blough, who was so good for nearly two months, has struggled of late, as has the entire Purdue offense. Blough threw for only 142 yards at Minnesota, his lowest totals of the season as a starter by more than 130 yards. He needs to pick it back up Saturday against Wisconsin.
Mike Weber, Ohio State running back
Mike Weber rushed for 104 yards for Ohio State last Saturday, and it was his first 100-yard game since the season opener against Oregon State. Wanting to build some momentum heading into next week’s big showdown with Michigan, momentum into Michigan, it’s going to be interesting to see if Weber can keep it up against Maryland. His running mate, J.K Dobbins, had only 28 yards on 14 carries last week. This is a tag-team thing, so expect big things from both of them.
Karan Higdon, Michigan running back
For all the same reasons listed above, it’s also important for Michigan to be hitting on all cylinders next week, so a better performance from the running game would be good against an Indiana defense that can be run on. Karan Higdon only had 42 yards last week, ending his streak of seven straight 100-yard games. It’d be nice to hit that 100-yard mark again.
Connor Hayward, Michigan State running back
It’s going to be a slushy mess in Lincoln when Nebraska and Michigan State get together, so the Spartans’ anemic running game is going to need to step up. That means sophomore Connor Heyward — or true freshman La’Darius Jefferson — need to have a big day. Michigan State ranks 116th in the nation in rushing (out of 130 teams) at just 118.4 yards per game, an average we’ve never seen during coach Mark Dantonio’s 12 seasons in charge in East Lansing. The team’s 18 rushing attempts in last week’s loss to Ohio State were the fewest during Dantonio’s tenure. That has to change this week. Nebraska’s run defense hasn’t been good all year, so there is hope.