Each Friday during the season, we'll be taking a look at a Big Ten player to watch when the games kick off Saturday.
This week's selection: Northwestern RB/KR Venric Mark
Saturday assignment: Saturday at Minnesota, Noon, ESPN2
Mark has been dangerous in many ways so far this season. He's already had three 100-yard rushing days, giving defenses fits when he and Kain Colter are paired together in a speedy backfield. Mark has also brought two punts back for touchdowns this year, including a 75-yarder against Penn State last week, and he's a threat to return kickoffs to the house as well.
So Minnesota will have to locate and slow the 5-foot-8 Mark, who can get lost sometimes in a pile of bodies. Northwestern has been more effective running than passing the ball this season, so cutting off one of its top ground options will help the Gophers' chances. Conversely, Mark can benefit not only the Wildcats' rushing game but also their field position on special teams.
This is a key swing game for both teams at TCF Bank Stadium, as the loser can pretty much kiss all Legends Division title hopes goodbye. Minnesota needs another win to get closer to bowl eligibility, while the Wildcats don't want to follow a 5-0 September with an 0-2 October. Mark should have a loud say in how this one turns out.