During Week 9 action, 10 Big Ten teams are playing. Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin and Maryland are on a bye.
Of the five games, one will match two ranked teams against one another. No. 2 Ohio State will travel to Happy Valley to take on the No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State has one loss and is hoping to spoil the Buckeyes’ perfect season on Saturday at noon, EDT.
There are three afternoon games on Saturday. But the most intriguing may be Illinois traveling to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. This feels like a potential trap game for Illinois. The No. 1 scoring defense will have arguably its biggest challenge against a Nebraska offense that can move the ball.
The night game nationally televised on ABC will feature Michigan State vs. Michigan. Jim Harbaugh is 0-2 against Mel Tucker, but the Wolverines are rolling while the Spartans are 3-4.
Keep reading to see our predictions for all five Big Ten games.
Ohio State vs. Penn State
Oct. 30, 2021; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Cameron Brown (26) with the key interception during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
I guess you can say this will be Ohio State’s first real challenge. Penn State has the No. 4 scoring offense and the No. 6 scoring defense in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will be the most complete team to date for the Buckeyes.
But the Ohio State offense is absolutely cooking right now behind the Heisman leader, CJ Stroud. The Buckeyes are scoring closes to 50 points per game and it’s hard to imagine the Nittany Lions stopping them for four quarters.
I think that Penn State will make the game competitive for the first half, but unless Ohio State gives the ball away multiple times, the Buckeyes will roll.
Ohio State 41, Penn State 24
Rutgers vs. Minnesota
Rodney Smith #1 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers rushes for yards against Tyshon Fogg #8 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the third quarter at SHI Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Minnesota defeated Rutgers, 42-7. Corey Perrine/Getty Images
The Gophers are reeling right now, losing three straight games. Tanner Morgan may or may not be back for Saturday against Rutgers, which would leave Athan Kaliakmanis as the starter once again. He struggled against the Nittany Lions, but the Scarlet Knights will not be as big of a challenge.
Rutgers has a decent enough defense allowing 283.9 yards per game and just over 21 points. But with the game being in Minnesota and Mo Ibrahim running the ball, I like the Gophers here in a close one.
Minnesota 20, Rutgers 13
Illinois vs. Nebraska
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois is sitting in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West, but Nebraska is one game behind the Illini.
The Huskers’ defense allows a ton of points, but Nebraska can move the ball, which is going to test Illinois’ No. 1 scoring defense in the country. The Fighting Illini allow 8.9 points per game — pretty outstanding.
In the past three games, Casey Thompson has thrown for 285 yards on average and six touchdowns, but he has been turnover prone, throwing six interceptions.
I’m probably going to be wrong here, but I’m picking the upset. Give me the Cornhuskers at home.
Nebraska 27, Illinois 24
Northwestern vs. Iowa
Photo: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
If you like offense, you probably should watch another game. This game will feature the No. 118 (Northwestern) and No. 128 (Iowa) scoring offenses in the country.
The one thing going in this game is the Hawkeyes continue to have a really, really good defense. Iowa has the eighth-ranked scoring defense, allowing 16.1 points per game.
Since I think it’s going to be a rough go for the Wildcats’ offense, I’ll take Iowa.
Iowa 14, Northwestern 9
Michigan State vs. Michigan
The biggest stat to know going into this game is in the last 46 out of 52 games the team that had the most rushing yards has won the contest.
With that being said, Michigan has the No. 7 rushing attack averaging 241.7 yards per game, and the Spartans have the No. 116 rushing offense that gains 106.1 yards per game.
Michigan State hasn’t been good stopping the run this season either, it has the 80th run defense in the country.
Even though it’s a rivalry game, I think Michigan is a little too strong for MSU this season. I look for Jim Harbaugh to get his first victory over Mel Tucker.
Michigan 42, Michigan State 14