- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The next slate of Big Ten games will kick off in November, which is winning time in college football. The Week 10 schedule doesn't offer as many juicy matchups as last week, but in this league you never know what to expect. We know you can look forward to these storylines in our early Week 10 preview:
Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) at Michigan State (5-4, 2-3), 3:30 p.m. ABC: OK, Nebraska. You've got control of the Legends Division now. So what are you going to do with it? The Cornhuskers face what looks like their toughest remaining road test at East Lansing against a Michigan State team that has to be feeling good about itself after winning at Wisconsin. This shapes up as a classic offense vs. defense showdown, as Nebraska leads the Big Ten in scoring and total offense, while the Spartans are tops in points and yards allowed.
Michigan (5-3, 3-1) at Minnesota (5-3, 1-3), noon, Big Ten Network: The Gophers haven't won the Little Brown Jug since 2005, but do they have a chance this week? If Denard Robinson is not healed and ready for Michigan this week, then perhaps. It should at least be closer than last year's game in Ann Arbor, when the Wolverines won 58-0. True freshman Philip Nelson showed off his skills against Purdue, but Michigan's defense is a whole new ballgame for the Minnesota quarterback. The Wolverines can't afford another loss after falling at Nebraska, while the Gophers are just one win away from bowl eligibility.
Penn State (5-3, 3-1) at Purdue (3-5, 0-4), 3:30 p.m. ESPNU: I shudder to think what the Ross-Ade Stadium crowd will look like on Saturday. Boilers fans are despondent about the direction of their program under Danny Hope and are understandably frustrated after a four-game losing streak, including last week's blowout at Minnesota. Purdue does, however, still have a chance to reach a bowl game if it can get off the mat (and calls will be loud for Robert Marve to start over Caleb TerBush this week at quarterback). Speaking of getting back up, Penn State must brush itself off after a disappointing home loss to Ohio State in a much-anticipated game. The Lions need to take care of business here with a trip to Nebraska looming in Week 11.
Iowa (4-4, 2-2) at Indiana (3-5, 1-3), 3:30 p.m., BTN: How many Iowa fans right now would trade their offense for Indiana's? The Hoosiers lead the league in passing yards per game at 286.6 and have more than five times as many touchdown passes as the Hawkeyes (16 to 3). Last week's win at Illinois should provide a much-needed confidence builder for IU, while Iowa is stumbling into Bloomington on a two-game losing streak. Dare we say the Hoosiers ought to be the favorites in this one?
Illinois (2-6, 0-4) at Ohio State (9-0, 5-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPN: Officially, Ohio State's first bye week of the season is not until next week. But playing Illinois is as close as it gets to an unofficial bye week in Big Ten play. These two programs are about as far apart as you can be right now, and the Buckeyes should have no problems at home. Illini coach Tim Beckman was an assistant under Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, so there won't be a lot of secrets on the sidelines.
Byes: Northwestern, Wisconsin
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