After long layoff, No. 13 Badgers visit reeling Wolverines


By ERIC OLSON - AP College Football Writer



Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, watches as quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, watches as quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)


Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


Things to watch during the third week of play in the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan

The Badgers will have had 21 days between games after the team went through a COVID-19 outbreak. The key question is whether QB Graham Mertz will be able to play. He and backup Chase Wolf were among the players who tested positive. If neither can play, Danny Vanden Boom would start. A loss would be devastating to Michigan, which has dropped two of its first three. The Wolverines are in danger of their first 1-3 Big Ten start since 2014, the year before Jim Harbaugh took over. They haven’t lost three of four overall to begin a season since 1967.

BEST MATCHUP

Purdue pass offense against Northwestern pass defense. Aidan O’Connell threw for 282 yards against Iowa and 371 against Illinois, and the Boilermakers have two of the top six receivers in the Big Ten in David Bell and Milton Wright. Northwestern has eight interceptions and allowed just one touchdown pass in three games.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Iowa would win its record sixth straight Floyd of Rosedale game if it beats Minnesota on Friday night. Minnesota has committed nine turnovers over the last four meetings, but they have rarely impacted the outcome. The Hawkeyes have converted the nine turnovers into a total of just three points. They did, however, secure last year’s 23-19 win when Riley Moss intercepted Cole Kramer in the final minute. The Gophers’ only annual opponent that has more takeaways against them since 2016 is Northwestern (11).

LONG SHOT

Michigan State is a 7 1/2-point underdog at home to No. 10 Indiana. No team has been more up and down than the Spartans. They lost at home to Rutgers in their opener, knocked off rival Michigan on the road, then followed that up by laying an egg at Iowa. The game sets up as a trap for the Hoosiers. They beat Michigan for the first time since 1987 last week, and next week they measure themselves with a road game against No. 3 Ohio State. Tom Allen needs to make sure his players’ minds are in the right place.

IMPACT PLAYER

Nebraska receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. He was one of the Cornhuskers’ biggest weapons as a freshman. This year he has just 10 catches, only one for more than 10 yards. Coach Scott Frost is making a point to get Robinson more involved against a Penn State defense that gave up pass plays of 29, 34, 42 and 62 yards against Maryland.

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, watches as quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_125770779-39e12bb268c040449871c5c05b6d6647.jpgMichigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, watches as quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_125770779-39c470e74e3e4a9f80dee5649b875cad.jpgWisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By ERIC OLSON

AP College Football Writer