Week 4 kicks off Big Ten conference play for a number of teams. Some of these matchups have a lot riding on them for such an early junction of the season. Whether that be high expectations of winning the conference or teams looking to get things figured out, there is no shortage of intrigue this week.
As always, there are some games that don’t move the needle much. The Illinois Fighting Illini hosting Chattanooga, Northwestern hosting Miami (Ohio), Penn State getting a tune up against the Central Michigan Chippewas, and Purdue hosting Florida Atlantic University all leave something to be desired.
The other matchups do get a lot of national coverage as well with the Big Ten getting airtime on FOX, FS1, ESPN, and ABC. Let’s get into five of the most intriguing matchups in the Big Ten this week with a prediction of what shakes out.
Indiana (3-0) at Cincinnati (2-1)
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The intrigue in this matchup lies within Indiana still being undefeated and already surpassing their win total of last year, when they went 2-10. A win against upstart Illinois and an overtime win over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers has the Hoosiers playing confidently.
Is that confidence enough to go on the road and upset the heavy favorites, the Group of Five darling Cincinnati Bearcats? No. It will not be enough.
Prediction: Cincinnati 30, Indiana 21. Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell knocks off another Power 5 team before he eventually makes the jump to a bigger program.
Iowa (2-1) at Rutgers (3-0)
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Can the Iowa Hawkeyes get more juice out of their offense? That is the biggest question mark in this game. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have a gigantic question mark at quarterback on an offense that doesn’t score much as is. Add to that having to face the Hawkeyes defense allowing 2.92 yards per play, 4.3 points per game, and allowing just one touchdown this season, they will be battling uphill.
The Hawkeyes offense won’t need a ton of output to score enough this game as the defense will continue to do their thing and stay stout.
Prediction: Iowa 24, Rutgers 7. The Hawkeyes add at least one defensive or special teams touchdown.
Minnesota (3-0) at Michigan State (2-1)
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How good are each of the teams in this matchup? That may be the biggest thing this matchup answers for us. Minnesota has not lost yet, but a slate of New Mexico State, Western Illinois, and Colorado hasn’t exactly tested the Golden Gophers.
Michigan State lost last to Washington last weekend in a hostile environment, but can likely rely on the experience of a big matchup. Michigan State at home in this one being Minnesota’s first test of the season may tell quite a lot.
Prediction: Michigan State 28, Minnesota 21. A game that sees the Spartans run the ball well and Minnesota get reminded they should play a real team before Big Ten play begins.
Marlyand (3-0) at No. 4 Michigan (3-0)
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
Michigan’s slate of Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn has done little to test the Wolverines as they enter Big Ten play. The Wolverines have not had to put forth much effort at all and there is the potential this leads to some sleepwalking early in this matchup.
Maryland comes off of a win against SMU. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has been playing well and may be the first threat to face Michigan’s defense.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Maryland 24. A game that feels much, much closer at half until the Wolverines pull away in the second half.
Wisconsin (2-1) at No. 3 Ohio State (3-0)
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Wisconsin had a much-needed get right game after their stumble against Washington State. They did exactly what they needed to do in a 66-7 thumping of New Mexico State. That said, the Buckeyes are an entirely different beast.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are seeming to get better as the season progresses. Their offense is finding its full potential behind Heisman candidate quarterback C.J. Stroud. With Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba as weapons at receiver, and TreVeyon Henderson at running back, the Buckeyes have a full stable to attack multiple ways.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Wisconsin 21. A game that serves as a benchmark for the rest of the Big Ten playing catch-up to the Buckeyes.
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