Wisconsin going for another 300-yard passing game vs. Illini
Some things to watch in the Big Ten Conference during Week 8 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) at Illinois (4-2, 1-1). Both teams have lost to Big Ten West-leading Iowa, so the winner takes sole possession of second place in the division. The Illini are 4-0 at home this season but have lost nine of 10 to Wisconsin and 12 of 14 following open dates. With their running game struggling, the Badgers have relied on Joel Stave’s arm. He could become the first Wisconsin QB since 1983 to throw for 300 yards in three straight games.
BEST MATCHUP: Indiana offense vs. Michigan State defense. The Nate Sudfeld-led Hoosiers (4-3, 0-3) lead the Big Ten in passing and will go against an opponent that’s 10th in the league in pass defense. Indiana heads to East Lansing as a desperate team, having lost three in a row since a 4-0 start. The Spartans (7-0, 3-0) have not been as imposing since defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi left. They’re middle of the pack in the conference in scoring defense, and four of their seven wins have been by seven points or less.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Penn State freshman Saquon Barkley has quickly established himself as one of the most electrifying running backs in the nation. He ran for 194 yards against Ohio State last week for his third 100-yard game. He’s averaging 8.3 yards a carry, and 17 of his 68 attempts have gone for double-digit gains. Barkley is within striking distance of D.J. Dozier’s true freshman-record five 100-yard games in 1983.
LONG SHOT: Rutgers (3-3, 1-2) is a three-touchdown underdog at home against Ohio State (7-0, 3-0), the first top-ranked opponent to visit Piscataway since 2002. The Scarlet Knights played Michigan State tough two weeks ago, and last week they made the largest comeback in the country this season when they erased a 25-point deficit in the second half to beat Indiana. Rutgers could be without star Leonte Carroo and fellow receiver Janarion Grant. Both are questionable with lower-body injuries. QB J.T. Barrett gave the Buckeyes a spark against Penn State last week and will get the start.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Northwestern RB Justin Jackson must get going against Nebraska (3-4, 1-2) or it will be another long day for the Wildcats (5-2, 1-2). Jackson has been limited to 55 yards the last two weeks against Michigan and Iowa, and the Cornhuskers are allowing only 91 yards a game on the ground.