No. 4 Penn State steps up in competition with visit to Iowa

Purdue's Da'Wan Hunte, left, and Markus Bailey, right, celebrate with fans as they walk off the field after beating Missouri 35-3 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Some things to watch in the Big Ten this week:

GAME OF THE WEEK

Penn State at Iowa. We’ll start finding out just how good the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions are as they begin their Big Ten title defense Saturday. So far they’ve beaten up on teams with a combined 2-6 record and put up impressive numbers in the process. Heisman Trophy contender Saquon Barkley is one of two players in the nation averaging more than 200 all-purpose yards per game, and the Lions’ defense has posted two shutouts and has allowed a total of 14 points. Unbeaten Iowa’s Nate Stanley has thrown for 10 touchdowns, the most by a Hawkeyes QB over a three-game stretch in 30 years, and 1,000-yard rusher Akrum Wadley will play after hurting an ankle last week. The Hawkeyes have trailed in each game while starting 3-0. Last season, Penn State amassed 599 total yards and limited the Hawkeyes to 30 yards rushing in a 41-14 win.

BEST MATCHUP

Notre Dame running game vs. Michigan State defense. QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams each ran for 200 yards and the Irish totaled 515 on the ground against Boston College last week, their most since 1969. That performance came a week after Georgia held them to 55 yards rushing. Michigan State, which starts only one senior in its front seven, hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown through two games and is giving up 91.5 yards a game on the ground.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Indiana has won nine of its last 10 nonconference games heading into its meeting with Georgia Southern. … Maryland is averaging 57 points after opening the season with consecutive 50-point games for the first time. The Terrapins’ opponent, UCF, scored 61 points in its only game of the season. … Ohio State, which hosts UNLV, has allowed two rushing touchdowns through 12 quarters. … Nebraska is 1-2 for the second time in three years but only the third time since 1960. The Huskers haven’t opened 1-3 since 1957. … Iowa will be trying for its 400th win at home since the program started in 1889.

LONG SHOT

Purdue is a 10-point underdog at home against No. 8 Michigan. New coach Jeff Brohm took over a beaten-down Boilermakers program and has it believing it can play with anybody, setting the stage for one of the biggest home games in years at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Boilermakers are going for their first win over a top-10 team since 2009. David Blough is completing 76 percent of his passes, and the Boilers defense is much improved. Michigan is young on offense and still trying to find its way. The Wolverines have scored just one touchdown on 10 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, tied for second-to-last nationally, and Wilton Speight is completing fewer than 55 percent of his passes.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Rutgers QB Johnathan Lewis is still the backup to Kyle Bolin, but he’ll surely get some playing time against Nebraska after accounting for five touchdowns against FCS Morgan State last week. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound true freshman still has to prove himself as a passer. He can, however, cause problems as a physical runner. Last week Lewis entered on several possessions Bolin started when the Scarlet Knights neared the goal line. He could be used the same way against the Huskers.

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