- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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No. 24 Northwestern (5-0) at Penn State (3-2)
When, where:11 a.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.
TV:ESPN Radio: WGN-720 AM
What you need to know: Northwestern faces it greatest test of the season this week. Penn State isn’t the Penn State of old, but the Wildcats likely will have their hands full at Beaver Stadium. History isn’t on Northwestern’s side. The Wildcats are 1-6 at Penn State and haven’t gone 6-0 to start a season since 1962, which also happens to be the last time Northwestern was ranked No. 1 in the country. If Northwestern can get its offense rolling again this week, you have to like its odds against Penn State. The Nittany Lions haven’t allowed more than 24 points in a game this season and have allowed a total of 27 points in their last three games. Northwestern has scored 35-plus points in three of their five games. The Wildcats’ offense was especially dynamic last week in a 44-29 win over Indiana. Northwestern running back Venric Mark and quarterback/wide receiver Kain Colter have been two of the most exciting players to watch in the Big Ten this season.
Scott Powers' prediction: Northwestern 31, Penn State 28
Illinois (2-3) at Wisconsin (3-2)
When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Camp Randall in Madison, Wis.
TV: ABC/ESPN2 Radio: WIND-560 AM
What you need to know: Illinois’ season is already on the verge of coming off the tracks. The Illini followed a 52-24 home loss to Louisiana Tech with a 35-7 home loss to Penn State. The Illini’s offense and defense have equally struggled. The offense has committed nine turnovers in the past two weeks. The defense has allowed 42 first-half points during that span. It likely isn’t going to get any easier at Wisconsin. The Badgers will be a motivated bunch after relinquishing a 27-10 lead and falling to Nebraska 30-27 last week.
Powers' prediction: Wisconsin 38, Illinois 17
Northern Illinois (4-1) at Ball State (3-2)
When, where: 2 p.m. Saturday at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind.
TV: None Radio: WSCR-670 AM
What you need to know: Northern Illinois is on a four-game winning streak after falling to Iowa in the opening week. The Huskies’ offense has been on a roll in recent weeks. Northern Illinois put up 55 points against Central Michigan last week. Central Michigan was the only team to beat the Huskies in the MAC last season. The Huskies have won 16 of their last 17 conference games. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch leads the nation in quarterback rushing yards with 582 and is eighth among all rushers. Northern Illinois edged Ball State 41-38 with a last-second field goal last season. Ball State lost to Kent State last week.
Powers' prediction: Northern Illinois 45, Ball State 31