Some things to watch in the Big Ten in Week 5 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan. It’s the first time in 65 all-time meetings that these teams have played when both were in the top 10, and each will play with an eye on strengthening its resume for the College Football Playoff. Even after a convincing win at Michigan State last week, the Badgers believe they’re due more national respect. That won’t be an issue if they get a second straight strong road performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Michigan has scored 45 or more points in four straight games for the first time since 1947. The Badgers have allowed just three offensive touchdowns through four games.
Northwestern at Iowa. This game could determine each team’s direction for the balance of the season. Northwestern, winner of 10 games in 2015, is 1-3 and coming off a home loss to Nebraska. The defending West Division champion Hawkeyes followed a loss to FCS North Dakota State with an uninspired performance in a win at Rutgers, and now they are reeling from the loss of top receiver Matt VandeBerg to a broken foot.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Ohio State defense’s nine interceptions are the Buckeyes’ most through three games since 1942. Ohio State, which hosts Rutgers, is the only FBS team to not allow a rushing TD this season. … Rutgers leads the nation in red zone defense, having allowed points on three of its opponents’ eight trips inside the 20-yard line. … Nebraska, which hosts Illinois, is a model of balance. The Cornhuskers average 242 yards rushing and 243 yards passing. … Illinois’ Hardy Nickerson is averaging 9.7 tackles to lead the Big Ten. … Maryland’s 123 points are second-most in program history through three games behind the 130 by the 1951 team. … David Blough enters Purdue’s game at Maryland looking to tie a program record with three consecutive 300-yard passing games. … Saquon Barkley’s 77 receiving yards against Michigan last week were the most by a Penn State running back since 2008. … Minnesota, which visits Penn State, has 119 points through three games, its most since 2005.
Indiana is a seven-point underdog at home against Michigan State and has lost seven straight to the Spartans since last winning the Old Brass Spittoon in 2006. The Hoosiers probably would be unbeaten entering their Big Ten opener if Richard Lagow hadn’t been intercepted five times in a home loss to Wake Forest last week. Michigan State is looking to bounce back from a 24-point loss to Wisconsin that was its worse at home since 2009.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Wisconsin LB T.J. Watt, younger brother of three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and ex-Badger J.J. Watt, broke out with 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a total of six stops last week against Michigan State. Another performance similar to that will make for a long afternoon for Michigan QB Wilton Speight.