Things to watch during Week 9 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 3 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Ohio State coach Ryan Day expects a juiced-up crowd at Camp Randall Stadium when the Buckeyes visit on the weekend before Halloween. Even though the Badgers have lost nine in a row in the series, Ohio State seems to get pushed to the limit every time it plays in Madison. The previous two games there went to overtime.
The Buckeyes must guard against a letdown after their big win over Penn State. They appear to be getting healthier. RB TreVeyon Henderson, WR Emeka Egbuka and CB Denzel Burke are expected to play.
Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell is a former Ohio State player, position coach, defensive coordinator and interim head coach. There's no doubt a win over his old team would be sweet for the West-leading Badgers, who finish the regular season with a very manageable schedule (Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska and Minnesota).
Purdue (2-5, 1-3) at Nebraska (4-3, 2-2), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
Nebraska has won four of its last five games under first-year coach Matt Rhule, has matched its 2022 win total and is in the thick of the West race. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Cornhuskers as a 2 1/2-point favorite against a team that has beaten them in back-to-back years.
The Huskers are without three starting offensive linemen and their top receiver because of injuries and will need the defense to continue being stout.
Purdue, the defending West champion, has lost four of its last five games under first-year coach Ryan Walters and must go 4-1 down the stretch to make a third straight bowl.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Penn State, which hosts Indiana, is 12-0 at home against the Hoosiers. Indiana has lost 10 of its last 11 Big Ten road games. ... Maryland's nine interceptions are tied second-most over the first seven games in 20 years. The 2018 team had 13 picks at this point. ... Minnesota's 12-10 win over Iowa last week was its first since 1981 when it didn't score a touchdown. The Gophers beat Iowa 12-10 in that game, too.
Northwestern (3-4, 1-3) is a 13 1/2-point home underdog against Maryland (5-2, 2-2), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Wildcats have no chance if their offense performs like it did at Nebraska last week. QB Brendan Sullivan has started the last two games in place of the injured Ben Bryant, whose status for this week has not been announced.
The Wildcats' defense has given game efforts, but it could be a long day if it can't get off the field against a Taulia Tagovailoa-led offense that's second in the Big Ten at 422 yards per game.
Michigan State QB Katin Houser will be in bounce-back mode when he makes his third career start, and second on the road, against Minnesota. He was just 12 for 22 for 101 yards and an interception in a 49-0 home loss to No. 2 Michigan last week. The redshirt freshman was solid in a loss to Rutgers that should have been a win, and it looks like the job is his to lose after replacing an ineffective Noah Kim.
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