Big Ten: Illini last hurdle for Michigan before “The Game”
Things to watch for in Week 12 of play in the Big Ten conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Illinois (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) at No. 3 Michigan (10-0, 7-0, No. 3 CFP)
Michigan faces a desperate Illinois team that squandered its Western Division lead with back-to-back losses. The Wolverines, trying to make a second straight college football playoff, can’t afford to look forward to next week’s showdown at No. 2 Ohio State. Key matchups involve elite running backs. The Wolverines are the best in the nation against the run and will face Chase Brown, who leads the nation in rushing yards. He left last week’s game against Purdue with a lower leg injury but is expected to play. Illinois is sixth on rush defense and will face Blake Corum, who has rushed for 100+ yards in seven straight games.
Iowa (6-4, 4-3) at Minnesota (7-3, 4-3)
The annual Floyd of Rosedale game has more at stake than the bronze pig. This is a Western Division knockout game between two of the four teams tied for first place. Gophers QB Athan Kaliakmanis is in line to start again in place of the injured Tanner Morgan, but, as usual, the focal point of the attack will be running back Mohamed Ibrahim. The Iowa defense has faced Ibrahim three times and done well against him as well, giving up 4.38 yards per carry. Iowa has won seven straight in the series.
IN THE NUMBERS
Ohio State has at least 10 wins for a 10th straight year, excluding the shortened 2020 pandemic season. … The Buckeyes’ game at Maryland will be their first visit to College Park since 2018. The 2020 game has been canceled. … Michigan State LB Cal Haladay enters the game against Indiana with a career-high 19 tackles against Rutgers, most by a Big Ten player this season. … Indiana is No. 1 nationally in opponents’ winning percentage, at .683. The Hoosiers’ 10 opponents have a combined record of 69-32. … Penn State has 14 players with at least one sack, tied for most among Power Five teams. … If Purdue beats Northwestern at home, the Boilermakers will have back-to-back Big Ten records for the first time since 1997-98.
Rutgers is a 19 1/2 point home underdog against Penn State, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Scarlet Knights have suffered seven straight double-digit losses to Penn State since losing 13-10 in 2014 and haven’t beaten the Nittany Lions since 1988. Penn State is playing its best late-season football and fighting for a Six New Year’s Bowl. . Rutgers must pull the upset to keep their hop bowl alive.
Wisconsin LB Nick Herbig is on a tear before the Badgers game at Nebraska. He has five sacks in the past two weeks since missing the Purdue game through injury. His 11 sacks are second nationally and his average of 1.2 per game is first. He could have easy access to anyone who plays quarterback for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska has two of the lowest-rated offensive tackles in the Big Ten, according to Pro Football Focus, and will surely need help from tight ends to keep Herbig at bay.
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