Everything you need to know about this weekend’s B1G slate.

Game of the Week: No. 19 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State (-20.5)

The stakes

Ohio State can still win the Big Ten with a loss this week, but the Buckeyes are obviously hunting for national titles. And they cannot win a national title with a loss this week. So everything is on the line for Ohio State from here on out. But that’s nothing new for the Buckeyes (8-1, 6-0), who have been in must-win situations since losing to Oregon in Week 2. This is the first of 3 straight games against ranked opponents for Ohio State, and possibly 5, if it can make the Big Ten Championship Game (and then play a ranked team in a bowl game).

The Boilermakers (6-3, 4-2) are in a 4-way tie atop the West Division and searching for their first division title and a berth in the conference title game. This has already been one heck of a season with 2 wins against top-3 opponents, No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State. Everything moving forward from here on out is gravy, really, even if there is still a West title to be won.

The stat: 8

That’s how many field goals Ohio State has kicked the last 2 weeks. It’s more than it had in its first 7 games combined and more than Northwestern has made all season. The Buckeyes are moving the ball well, but they aren’t turning many drives into touchdowns. Maybe that is enough against some Big Ten teams, but it won’t get it done against the best teams in the country. And as I already mentioned, Ohio State could have 5 ranked teams in a row coming up. Having the No. 2 offense in the country is great, but it doesn’t mean much when it doesn’t result in touchdowns.

The key matchup: Purdue’s front 7 vs. TreVeyon Henderson

The Buckeyes surprisingly struggled to run the ball against Nebraska. It’s not that the Huskers don’t have a good run defense, they do. But Ohio State has one of the best offensive lines in the country and one of the best running backs in the country. So how did Ohio State average just 3 yards per carry for the first time since 2018? TreVeyon Henderson had his lowest yards-per-carry average in his career.

Purdue has a top-25 defense, but it has struggled to stop the run in recent weeks. The Boilermakers got steamrolled in the run game by Wisconsin, and Kenneth Walker III did run for 146 yards last week against Purdue.

The Boilermakers’ best chance is to force CJ Stroud to beat them. As he showed against Nebraska, he is very good, but he is prone to mistakes.

The big question: Can Aidan O’Connell do it again?

O’Connell has been incredible in Purdue’s 2 big wins, with a combined 911 passing yards and 5 TDs with no interceptions. In the other 4 games against Power 5 opponents he has appeared in, he has 5 TD passes and 8 INTs. Which version of O’Connell will show up?

There weren’t enough superlatives to describe O’Connell’s performance against Michigan State, which isn’t a great defense by any means. But O’Connell was simply incredible. He made every kind of throw imaginable, he ducked pass rushers and he spread the ball around. Sure, David Bell had 217 receiving yards, but O’Connell threw for 536.

Ohio State has had its share of struggles defensively over the last 2 seasons, but it has really tightened the screws since the Oregon game. Sean Clifford did throw for 361 yards a few weeks ago, though it only resulted in 24 points. Come to think of it, Ohio State hasn’t allowed more than 24 points since the Oregon game.

The verdict

The Buckeyes may stumble over these final 3 weeks, but I don’t think it’s going to be at home to Purdue.

– – –

Ohio State 34, Purdue 23

No. 6 Michigan (-1) at Penn State

Whether or not you think Michigan actually deserves to be ranked No. 6 isn’t important. The CFP race will play itself out, starting this week with a major challenge for the Wolverines on the road against a team that should be ranked. Seriously, how is Penn State (6-3, 3-3) not ranked? It has the same record as No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 17 Auburn — and beat both of those teams.

Anyways, here’s my concern with Penn State beating Michigan. The Nittany Lions are one-dimensional; they have 2 games this year with more than 107 rushing yards, and they came against Ball State and Indiana. Michigan’s defense has been much better this season, allowing over 200 passing yards just twice. Jahan Dotson is awesome, but as long as Michigan doesn’t allow him to go off for 3 TDs, the Wolverines should be able to avoid a fourth loss in 5 years to Penn State.

– – –

Michigan 27, Penn State 20

Northwestern at No. 18 Wisconsin (-24.5)

Since running on Wisconsin is out of the question, Northwestern must win on the arm of Andrew Marty … and that seems unlikely. Wisconsin is the hottest team in the Big Ten right now, with 5 straight wins, including 4 by 17 points or more.

– – –

Wisconsin 30, Northwestern 10

Rutgers at Indiana (-6.5)

The thinking was that coming into this season, both of these programs were on the rise. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Rutgers (4-5, 1-5) bottomed  out with a 52-3 loss to Wisconsin, so the only way to go is up. What will Indiana (2-7, 0-6) do at QB this week? Current starter Donaven McCulley is at 4 games, so if he plays, he burns his redshirt. Will Jack Tuttle and/or Michael Penix Jr. be able to return this week? They’re back at practice, so we’ll see. Even so, I’ll take the more motivated team, Rutgers, which still has a good chance at reaching a bowl game.

– – –

Rutgers 20, Indiana 17

Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa (-6)

This game has major ramifications in the West, as these are 2 of the 4 teams tied atop the division. For Iowa, the question is will Alex Padilla provide the necessary jolt to Iowa’s stagnant offense? Perhaps. The thing is, Iowa may not need a ton of offense to beat a Minnesota team that was held scoreless by Illinois for about 55 minutes last week. For Minnesota, can it find a way to run the ball again? It went over 300 yards twice in a row, then couldn’t even reach 100 last week against Illinois.

– – –

Iowa 24, Minnesota 7

Maryland at No. 7 Michigan State (-13)

This could wind up being a fascinating game. On the one hand, Michigan State is coming off a relatively lopsided loss at Purdue. On the other hand, the Spartans (8-1, 5-1) have to be fired up after getting ranked a spot below Michigan despite winning the head-to-head battle. Maryland (5-4, 2-4), meanwhile, is striving to get bowl eligible and has a very capable passing attack against a very vulnerable Michigan State defense that just allowed 536 passing yards to Purdue.

– – –

Michigan State 31, Maryland 28


Week 10: 5-2 straight-up / 4-3 vs. spread
Season: 67-18 straight-up / 48-36-1 vs. spread