Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Pittsburgh at No. 13 Penn State
This is the 100th edition of the Keystone State Clash since 1893 and final one under the current scheduling agreement. Penn State (2-0) won last year’s game at Heinz Field 51-6 in the rain and has outscored the Panthers 84-20 the last two years. Sean Clifford leads a Penn State offense averaging 515 yards per game. Pitt’s defense should provide Clifford his toughest test before Big Ten play begins. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett was ineffective in last year’s game, but he’s coming off a career game against Ohio. The Panthers (1-1) are looking for their first win in Happy Valley since 1988.
No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State
Iowa (2-0) has won four straight in the Cy-Hawk Series and outscored its first two opponents by a combined 68-14. Hawkeyes QB Nate Stanley has been sharp so far, having thrown six touchdown passes and no interceptions. In his only previous game in Ames, he threw for a career-high 333 yards and five TDs. The Cyclones (1-0) are coming off an open date following their triple-overtime win over FCS Northern Iowa. The atmosphere will be charged with ESPN’s “College GameDay” making its first visit to Ames.
FACTS AND FIGURES
No. 21 Maryland (at Temple) has scored 142 points, tied with 1996 Ohio State for most by a Big Ten team through two games and tied for third-most by an FBS team since 1936, trailing only Mississippi’s 149 in 2015 and Florida’s 143 in 1994. … Minnesota (vs. Georgia Southern) is 10-0 against teams from the Sun Belt Conference. … Northwestern QB Hunter Johnson, who struggled against Stanford, has a chance to build some confidence against a UNLV pass defense ranked 109th nationally. … Mark Dantonio (109-51) will overtake Duffy Daughtery (109-65-5 from 1954-72) as No. 18 Michigan State’s all-time wins leader if the Spartans beat Arizona State at home. … Illinois (vs. Eastern Michigan) allowed just 10 rushing yards at UConn, the fourth-fewest against the Illini since 2000. … Indiana (vs. No. 6 Ohio State) is coming off a 52-0 win over Eastern Illinois, the Hoosiers’ largest margin of victory at home since 1944. … Ohio State has won 23 in a row against Indiana since a 27-27 tie in 1990 and hasn’t lost to the Hoosiers since 1988.
Northern Illinois, 14-point underdog at Nebraska
The Huskies went into Lincoln and beat the Mike Riley-coached Cornhuskers two years ago, and second-year coach Scott Frost’s team looks vulnerable after winning a closer-than-expected opener against South Alabama and losing in overtime at Colorado after blowing a 17-point lead. Northern Illinois has beaten eight opponents from a Power Five conference or major independent since 2009. The Huskies played No. 11 Utah tough into the second half last week.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Whoever plays quarterback for Purdue
National passing leader Elijah Sindelar started the week in the concussion protocol but hasn’t been ruled out of Purdue’s much anticipated home game against TCU. If Sindelar can’t play, redshirt freshman Jack Plummer would make his first start. TCU’s secondary, which led the Big 12 the last two years, lost starting CB Julius Lewis to a knee injury a few days before the Horned Frogs’ opener. Sindelar has thrown for 932 yards and nine touchdowns in two games. Plummer has never taken a snap as a collegian.
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