Big Ten This Week: Ibrahim big challenge for Penn State defense


By ERIC OLSON - AP College Football Writer



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)

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)


Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is transported to the locker room after being injured in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Things to watch during Week 8 of play in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

Minnesota (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) at No. 16 Penn State (5-1, 2-1)

Minnesota has lost two straight to Big Ten West opponents and is desperate for a win in this crossover game. The Gophers are just as physical as Michigan, which hammered Penn State last week, and star RB Mohamed Ibrahim must be licking his chops knowing he’ll go against a defense that allowed 418 yards rushing to the Wolverines. There’s uncertainty at quarterback for both teams. Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan (head) and Penn State’s Sean Clifford (shoulder) were knocked out of games in the fourth quarter last week.

BEST MATCHUP

Purdue (5-2, 3-1) at Wisconsin (3-4, 1-3)

The Boilermakers need this one to take sole possession of first place in the West Division and are on a roll with four straight wins. The Badgers are coming off a two-overtime loss at Michigan State and will be all but out of the division race if they lose here. Aidan O’Connell is coming off one of his best performances in a win over Nebraska and will be going against an average pass defense that hasn’t fared well against above-average passers. Purdue is a slight underdog, perhaps because it’s lost 15 in a row to the Badgers.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Wisconsin is in a six-game stretch with four losses for the first time since the end of the 2012 season. … Iowa’s defense has allowed 10 or fewer points in five of the first six games for the first time since 1933. … Rutgers goes into its home game against Indiana as the eighth-most improved defensive team in the country. The Scarlet Knights are allowing 1.26 yards less per play than in 2021. … Cam Camper needs one more 10-catch game to join Whop Philyor (2019) and Damarlo Belcher (2010) as the only Indiana players with three in a season.

LONG SHOT?

Nothwestern is a 13 1/2-point underdog at Maryland, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and the Terrapins might be ripe for an upset with QB Taulia Tagovailoa a game-time decision because of a right knee injury. The Terps came from behind to win at Indiana last week with backup Billy Edwards Jr., but they ran on 18 of his season-high 21 snaps and he was off-target with his three passes.

IMPACT PLAYER

Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. has gone over 100 yards in receptions in three of six games. He has two games with three touchdowns and a total of nine TDs, and he’s been targeted 46 times with no drops. He and teammate Emeka Egbuka are going to be problems for an Iowa pass defense that ranks third nationally.

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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_129962848-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)

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is transported to the locker room after being injured in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129962848-5fc34f3cdfca4d8186dbf3d283854fab.jpgMinnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is transported to the locker room after being injured in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129962848-3cc872d341e949e9ae0f4a23ec0382cd.jpgPenn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By ERIC OLSON

AP College Football Writer