BIG TEN: Maryland enters Lions’ den; Iowa-Minnesota key game in West


By Eric Olson - AP College Football Writer



FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, file photo, Maryland quarterback Perry Hills (11) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Mike Minter, left, and Avery Edwards in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue in College Park, Md. Coming off a season in which he threw 13 interceptions, Hills has done a masterful job of running unbeaten Maryland's high-powered offense. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)


Some things to watch in the Big Ten on Saturday:

GAME OF THE WEEK

Maryland at Penn State. Maryland has built its 4-0 record against the 80th-toughest schedule, according to the NCAA, so a Big Ten road game on homecoming in Happy Valley should provide a better assessment of the Terrapins. The Nittany Lions have won nine of their last 10 at home and are coming off an overtime win against Minnesota. The Terps blew out Purdue and bring in one of the best rushing offenses in the country. Each of the last two meetings has been decided by one point.

BEST MATCHUP

Iowa at Minnesota. Floyd of Rosedale isn’t all that’s at stake. The loser will have virtually no room for error the rest of the way if it hopes to be a factor in the West. The defending division champion Hawkeyes, whose two losses came at home, would match the program record with an eighth straight road win. The Gophers are rushing for 228 yards a game, and Iowa has struggled to stop the run. Minnesota’s defense has been vulnerable to the big play , and the Hawkeyes are among the conference leaders with 13 plays of 30 yards or longer. The teams have split the last six meetings.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a career-high 22 tackles in last week’s overtime win over Minnesota, the most stops by a PSU player since Paul Posluszny in 2005 and the most by a Big Ten player since 2011. … Illinois has played the toughest schedule in the nation based on winning percentage against FBS teams. The Illini’s three FBS opponents are a combined 14-1. … Purdue’s offense is converting 50.7 percent of its third downs to rank 15th nationally. Purdue’s defense is giving up first downs on 54.4 percent of third downs to rank 127th. … Michigan has had 16 players carry the ball and 17 players catch passes. … Rutgers, which hosts No. 4 Michigan, hasn’t beaten a top-five opponent since then-No. 2 USF in 2007.

LONG SHOT

Indiana at No. 2 Ohio State. The Hoosiers go to the Horseshoe as 29-point underdogs , and they’re 0-28 all-time against teams ranked Nos. 1 or 2 and haven’t beaten a team in the top three since 1967. Indiana can draw confidence from last year’s meeting, when the Buckeyes won 34-27 after Eli Apple batted down a pass in the end zone as time expired. The Hoosiers are as confident as ever, having knocked off Michigan State in overtime last week. Indiana RB Devine Redding has three 100-yard games, but he’ll be going against the only FBS defense that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Michigan State QB Tyler O’Connor. The Spartans have lost back-to-back games , and the first-year starter is taking heat from the fans for the overtime loss to Indiana. O’Connor needs to bounce back at home against BYU. The Spartans haven’t lost three in a row since 2009.

___

Online:

AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org

FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, file photo, Maryland quarterback Perry Hills (11) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Mike Minter, left, and Avery Edwards in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue in College Park, Md. Coming off a season in which he threw 13 interceptions, Hills has done a masterful job of running unbeaten Maryland’s high-powered offense. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_112857318-dcc0cc77624242cc9640ae805b4b75e7.jpgFILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, file photo, Maryland quarterback Perry Hills (11) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Mike Minter, left, and Avery Edwards in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue in College Park, Md. Coming off a season in which he threw 13 interceptions, Hills has done a masterful job of running unbeaten Maryland’s high-powered offense. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

By Eric Olson

AP College Football Writer

comments powered by Disqus