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Monday, October 17, 2011
Big Ten Week 8 preview

By Brian Bennett

Week 8 is drawing nigh, and hopefully by then my digestive system will have recovered from the C.T. Dub I had at Menna's in East Lansing. For now, chew on this preview of Saturday's action, which features one colossal confrontation and some other undercards:

No. 6 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 16 Michigan State (5-1, 2-0), 8 p.m. ET (ESPN): A preview of the inaugural Big Ten title game, perhaps? Each team looks like the best in its divisions, though the Spartans have a tougher obstacle course the rest of the way. Wisconsin and East Lansing have not gotten along in recent history, including last year. The Badgers' steamroller offense meets Michigan State's fearsome defense. The "GameDay" crew will be there to add to the excitement, not that this game needs much more.

No. 23 Illinois (6-1, 2-1) at Purdue (3-3, 1-1), Noon (ESPN2): The Boilermakers had a near miss at Penn State on Saturday, while the Illini stubbed their toe for the first time at home against Ohio State. So both teams need this one, and especially Purdue if Danny Hope's team hopes to make a bowl game.

No. 21 Penn State (6-1, 3-0) at Northwestern (2-4, 0-3), 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network): A team that's almost all defense (the Nittany Lions) versus one which appears to play almost no defense (the Wildcats). Penn State rallied from 21 points down to win last year's game. If Northwestern is ever going to get off the mat, this week would be a good time at home against a team that doesn't score much.

No. 13 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) at Minnesota (1-5, 0-2), 3:30 p.m. (ABC): These two programs haven't played since 1990, and the Cornhuskers have won the previous 14 meetings. A struggling Gophers team that surrendered 103 points in its first two Big Ten contests will somehow have to deal with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.

Indiana (1-6, 0-3) at Iowa (4-2, 1-1), Noon (BTN): The Hoosiers nearly upset the Hawkeyes last year in Bloomington, but Damarlo Belcher dropped the potential game-winning touchdown pass with 28 seconds left. Indiana hasn't been that close to a victory in a while this year. With Minnesota up next week, Iowa has a chance to build some momentum if it can take care of business.

Byes: Michigan, Ohio State