Big Ten: Mich-Ohio St to settle East; Iowa win away in West

Things to watch during Week 13 of play in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK I

No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) at No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0, No. 2 CFP)

The stakes are always high in “The Game,” never more than on Saturday. The winner represents the East in the Big Ten championship game and remains in prime position for a College Football Playoff bid. The loser still has a path to the playoff and, worst case, a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. The Buckeyes have been stewing for a year over their first loss to Michigan since 2011. The Wolverines are going for back-to-back wins over Ohio State for the first time since 1999-2000. This will be the fourth time in 19 meetings that both teams are ranked in the top five when they meet.

GAME OF THE WEEK II

Nebraska (3-8, 2-6) at Iowa (7-4, 5-3)

This Black Friday game is nowhere near as impactful as Michigan-Ohio State, of course, but it spotlights what’s been a remarkable turnaround by Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Iowa will secure the West title and head back to the Big Ten championship game with a win over the swooning Cornhuskers. Iowa has reeled off four wins in a row since opening conference play 1-3. Playing in the worst division in the Power Five, the Hawkeyes have been able to compensate for one of the nation’s worst offenses by having a defense that is among the best.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Wisconsin enters the Paul Bunyan’s Axe game against Minnesota having won 26 of its 31 games played with a traveling trophy at stake. … Penn State’s Nick Singleton (863) and Kaytron Allen (748) are the first pair of FBS freshman running backs on the same team to have more than 700 yards rushing apiece Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson (1,013) and Kevin Marks (845) in 2018. … Of the three Big Ten quarterbacks with five 400-yard passing games since 2000, two are active — Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell. The third was the late Dwayne Haskins, who had all five of his in 2018 for Ohio State. … Since 2018, Nebraska’s .279 winning percentage in Big Ten games (12-31) is second-worst behind Rutgers’ .136 (6-38). Ohio State is first at .950 (38-2).

LONG SHOT?

Indiana is a 10 1/2-point home underdog against Purdue, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The game for the Old Oaken Bucket is the Hoosiers’ bowl — unless they get to 5-7 and are needed to fill a bowl slot — and there’s nothing they would love more than to squash their rival’s hopes of going to the conference championship game in the event Iowa loses to Nebraska on Friday. The Hoosiers have some mojo after a double-overtime win at Michigan State ended a seven-game losing streak.

IMPACT PLAYER

Illinois RB Chase Brown is poised to add significantly to his nation-leading total of 1,582 rushing yards against a Northwestern defense allowing a Big Ten-worst 4.64 yards per carry. The Doak Walker semifinalist is averaging a Bowl Subdivision-high 28.1 carries per game and has had at least 29 in five of the last six games. The Illini have lost three straight and, to sneak into the Big Ten title game, need to win the Land of Lincoln Trophy and have Iowa and Purdue lose.

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