We’ve reached the point of the Big Ten schedule where no one wants to be caught outside after dark. And thanks to Daylight Savings Time ending, the darkness comes a lot earlier in November.

If you’re the type of fan who enjoys getting games out of the way early so your Saturday nights are free, that makes this the best time of year. (And if you’re the type of fan who wants to get Saturday errands out of the way before a night game, it’s the worst.)

Every single game on this week’s schedule has a morning or afternoon kick, with Maryland at Michigan State’s 4 p.m. start time being the “late game.”

So spike your cup of joe this Saturday and check out what we’ll be looking for from every B1G team.

Open week: Illinois, Nebraska

Rutgers — Can the Knights rebound?

A 52-3 home loss is the definition of humiliation. Especially against a Wisconsin offense that previously scored its season-high of 34 points against Eastern Michigan.

But there’s nothing a trip to Indiana can’t cure, and Rutgers is still 2 wins from bowl eligibility.

Indiana — Is a Big Ten win attainable?

Bowling is out of the question for the 2-7 Hoosiers. Welcome back to IU football as we knew it.

So Tom Allen’s team needs to simplify. As in avoiding a winless Big Ten season. That hasn’t happened since 2011, which was Year 1 under Kevin Wilson.

Northwestern — Will the Wisconsin magic continue?

Pat Fitzgerald has won 4 of his last 7 head-to-head matchups with Wisconsin. Which is pretty much the only reason to believe Northwestern has a chance in this game.

Wisconsin — Will the offensive outbursts continue?

The previously dormant Badgers offense is averaging 36.3 points in its past 3 games as Wisconsin has wrangled control of the Big Ten West.

Now they must avoid doing what prior West leaders Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota all did — hand it all back with a loss to an unranked opponent.

Michigan — Can the Wolverines win in Happy Valley?

It hasn’t happened since 2015 — Jim Harbaugh’s first season at Michigan. With the Wolverines still in Playoff contention, it’s time for a reprise.

Penn State — Can the Nittany Lions simulate a running game?

Penn State cannot run the ball. The Nittany Lions are 12th in the league with 3.2 yards per carry. And as Kenneth Walker III showed us, the one area where Michigan is vulnerable is against an extraordinary running back.

For Penn State, setting up a screen game that turns passes into de facto runs might be key. Michigan is the second-best pass defense in the Big Ten.

Purdue — Can Purdue beat a Top 5 team AGAIN?

The Boilers have Ohio State right where they want them. Or do they?

The Buckeyes are ranked 6th in this week’s AP poll, which puts them on the safe side of Purdue’s giant-killing habit. After last week’s 40-29 win over Michigan State, the Boilermakers have 17 all-time wins against Top-5 teams, including 2 this year. The Bucks might lobby the CFP committee to move them down to No. 6 this week just to be safe.

Ohio State — Will the Buckeyes finally clean it up?

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll potentially notice this was the exact question we posed of the Buckeyes last week. They did not pass the test, though fortunately it didn’t result in a loss at Nebraska.

Ohio State committed 8 penalties for 65 yards to go with CJ Stroud’s 2 interceptions. That’s on the heels of committing 10 penalties with a fumble against Penn State.

This offense is explosive enough to overcome these errors, but if they keep occurring, someone will make the Buckeyes play. And we’ve seen Purdue is plenty capable of being that team.

Minnesota — Now what?

The prospect of doing anything successful on offense against Iowa’s defense a week after scoring 6 points against Illinois feels … grim.

But Minnesota bounced back from its previous embarrassing loss to Bowling Green by winning at Purdue. So maybe that pattern will hold.

Iowa — Is Alex Padilla the guy now?

To be clear, Spencer Petras was only replaced as Iowa’s starter because he wasn’t healed enough from the previous week’s injury. And it’s not too difficult to provide a spark against the 2021 Northwestern defense.

Alex Padilla was a modest 18-of-28 for 172 yards, but at least Iowa had some respectable drives with him at the helm. And that hasn’t been the case in weeks.

It will be interesting to see if Kirk Ferentz is tempted to make a change, though history tells us this is unlikely.

Maryland — Can the Terps avoid being on Kenneth Walker’s Heisman reel?

I really, really don’t like the chances for the team ranked 13th in the Big Ten in total defense.

Michigan State — Can Sparty stop Tagovailoa?

Michigan State is allowing the most passing yards in the B1G by an average of 71 yards per game.

Not 7.1.


MSU allows 326 yards per game through the air. Maryland, the next-worst pass defense, allows 255.

Taulia Tagovailoa is averaging 306 passing yards per game for Maryland.

What we’re saying is, take the over.