|ESPN.com: Big Ten||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Rivalry week is here, and the Big Ten regular season wraps up Saturday. It's the end of the line for three teams and the league's second-longest tenured coach in Purdue's Joe Tiller. The Big Ten title and BCS bowl berths also are at stake.
Here's a quick overview of what's on tap.
Michigan (3-8, 2-5 Big Ten) at No. 10 Ohio State (9-2, 6-1), ABC, noon ET
The league's premier matchup has lost a bit of luster with Michigan's historically poor season. But underdogs and first-year coaches have previously had success in this rivalry, and the Wolverines and head coach Rich Rodriguez hope it's their turn. Ohio State is favored by nearly three touchdowns and can win its fifth consecutive game against its archrival. If the Buckeyes prevail in The Game, they clinch at least a share of the league title for the fourth straight year and could wind up with a BCS berth.
Indiana (3-8, 1-6) at Purdue (3-8, 1-6), ESPN2, noon ET
This wasn't the sendoff Purdue wanted for its all-time winningest coach, but the Boilers still can get Tiller one final victory at Ross-Ade Stadium. It has been a difficult year for both teams after last year's emotion-charged game in Bloomington, which gave Indiana its first bowl berth since 1993. Senior quarterback Curtis Painter likely will get the start in his final game at Purdue, and Indiana counters with sack master Jammie Kirlew. Tiller enters the game with a 9-2 mark against Indiana.
Illinois (5-6, 3-4) at Northwestern (8-3, 4-3), Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk is on the line, and for Illinois, so is a potential bowl berth. While Northwestern tries to add to an already successful season on senior day, the Illini hope to avoid the dreaded Rose Bowl-to-no-bowl plunge. Illinois quarterback Juice Williams and the league's top pass offense goes against a much-improved Northwestern defense led by end Corey Wootton. Northwestern won four straight in the series before Illinois countered last year in Champaign.
No. 15 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) at No. 8 Penn State (10-1, 6-1), ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
This game in Happy Valley has Big Ten championship implications as the league's featured game kicks off. Penn State can clinch a Rose Bowl berth with a victory, while Michigan State would head to Pasadena with a win and an Ohio State loss to Michigan. The game features standout running backs in Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Penn State's Evan Royster, the league's top defense (Penn State) and its top red zone defense (Michigan State). Penn State aims for its 800th victory and its 383rd under head coach Joe Paterno, who could have hip replacement surgery the day after the game.
Cal-Poly (8-1) at Wisconsin (6-5), Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Badgers are playing good ball as of late, but they shouldn't look past Cal-Poly, which ranks No. 3 nationally in both major FCS polls. The Mustangs knocked off San Diego State in September and enter Camp Randall Stadium on a seven-game win streak. They average 46.4 points a game, so a Badgers defense led by Mike Newkirk and DeAndre Levy will be tested. Wisconsin has won 19 consecutive regular season games against nonconference foes, a streak that stretches back to 2003.
Iowa (7-4, 4-3) at Minnesota (7-4, 3-4), Big Ten Network, 7 p.m. ET
Bowl placement and the Floyd of Rosedale trophy are at stake for both teams as Minnesota thankfully plays its final game at the Metrodome. The Gophers have lost three straight and could use a quality win to improve their postseason résumé. Minnesota star wide receiver Eric Decker is expected to return after missing last week's game with a high ankle sprain. Iowa running back Shonn Greene tries to become the first running back to eclipse 100 rushing yards in all eight Big Ten games since Penn State's Curtis Enis in 1997.