No. 10 Penn St visits No. 5 Michigan in key B10 East matchup


By ERIC OLSON - AP College Football Writer



Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws a pass while being pressured by Northwestern defensive back Rod Heard II (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws a pass while being pressured by Northwestern defensive back Rod Heard II (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)


Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim stands the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Minneapolis. Purdue won 20-10. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)


Illinois running back Chase Brown carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Iowa Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Things to watch during Week 7 of play in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 10 Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 5 Michigan (6-0, 3-0)

This marks the first time since 1997 that Penn State and Michigan meet when both are in the top 10, and for the Nittany Lions it starts a three-game stretch that likely will determine their place in the East Division. They play Minnesota and Ohio State at home the next two weeks. Penn State and Michigan have split their last 14 meetings, with the Wolverines scoring a late touchdown to win 21-17 in Happy Valley last year. Penn State’s offensive line must protect Sean Clifford against a Michigan pass rush that’s tied for fourth in the nation with 3.67 sacks per game.

BEST MATCHUP

Minnesota (4-1, 1-1) at No. 24 Illinois (5-1, 2-1)

No one would have predicted before the season that this would be a matchup of the nation’s top two defensive teams and a game with huge implications in the Big Ten West. The Gophers are coming off an open date following a 20-10 home loss to Purdue and should have RB Mohamed Ibrahim back from injury. The Illini could be without injured QB Tommy DeVito as they try for their fifth straight win.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Maryland is the only Bowl Subdivision team to score on its first possession in every game. The Terrapins have opened with four touchdowns and two field goals. … Northwestern had a 29-yard run against Penn State last week. The Wildcats’ other 27 runs netted just 2 yards. … Purdue will be going for its first four-game win streak since 2018, and second in 15 years, when it hosts Nebraska. … Indiana is averaging 3.5 yards per play over the last three games. … Indiana is averaging 3.99 yards per play in conference games, lowest in the Big Ten and 124th nationally. … Nebraska hasn’t allowed any second-half points in two straight games.

LONG SHOT?

Nebraska is a 14-point underdog at Purdue, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, as it tries to win a third straight game for the first time since 2016. Interim coach Mickey Joseph has energized the Cornhuskers, but Purdue presents a far greater challenge than they faced in wins over Indiana and Rutgers. The last time the Huskers won on the road when this big an underdog was in 2005, when they beat 17 1/2-point favorite Colorado 30-3.

IMPACT PLAYER

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz bounced back from two straight poor performances to throw for 299 yards and five touchdowns against Northwestern. He shouldn’t have a problem staying in rhythm this week against a Michigan State defense that’s the Big Ten’s worst against the pass.

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This version corrects Michigan’s ranking to No. 5.

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Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws a pass while being pressured by Northwestern defensive back Rod Heard II (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129915524-e1975bd776da495fb2fa11d35b017c78.jpgPenn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws a pass while being pressured by Northwestern defensive back Rod Heard II (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim stands the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Minneapolis. Purdue won 20-10. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129915524-f693ab67094c41438338752978aef0a2.jpgMinnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim stands the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Minneapolis. Purdue won 20-10. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Illinois running back Chase Brown carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Iowa Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129915524-5c133cc59cf4470fa8962d46a18e9257.jpgIllinois running back Chase Brown carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Iowa Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

By ERIC OLSON

AP College Football Writer