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What to watch in the Big Ten: Week 5

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Can you believe it's October already? Here are 10 things you don't want to miss this weekend.

Finally hitting the road -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State hit the road for the first time this season after enjoying varied degrees of success on their home fields. Fearless freshman quarterback Tate Forcier leads undefeated Michigan into East Lansing, where Michigan State desperately needs a win. Wisconsin has retained Paul Bunyan's Axe since 2004 but puts its perfect record on the line at the new TCF Bank Stadium. Quarterback Daryll Clark and Penn State try to rebound from a tough loss against floundering Illinois in Champaign.

Spartans, Illini seek season-saving upsets -- Pegged as upper-tier Big Ten teams before the season, Michigan State and Illinois have combined for zero victories against FBS opponents. If things turn around, it needs to happen Saturday as both the Spartans and the Illini host ranked opponents. Michigan State has to fix its problems in the secondary against Forcier and the league's top scoring offense (37.5 ppg). The challenge for Illinois seems much greater, but if Juice Williams and his wide receivers finally get in sync, they can make plays against an untested Penn State secondary.

Stanzi hunts for Wolves -- Iowa will eventually need Ricky Stanzi to win a tough game or two, and this must be the week that the junior quarterback and his wide receivers get on track. Stanzi's first-half struggles are well documented, but he should be able to get comfortable against an Arkansas State defense that ranks 102nd nationally against the pass (256.7 ypg). Wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos seemed to move well at Penn State and could have a big day against the Red Wolves. Left tackle Bryan Bulaga has been medically cleared and could provide a big boost up front.

Buckeyes try to continue shutout streak -- Ohio State hasn't allowed a point since the final stages of its loss to USC, and the self-proclaimed no-name defense aims for another big performance at Indiana. The Buckeyes haven't shut out three consecutive opponents since 1973, when they blanked Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan State by a combined score of 125-0. Ohio State also can extend its Big Ten road win streak to 16 games.

On suspension alert -- Anyone want to start a pool on who the Big Ten will suspend next? The league has suspended three players in the last three weeks for various on-field actions that violated Big Ten or NCAA policies. Ohio State will be without star safety Kurt Coleman against Indiana after the senior received a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit. It will be interesting to see if there are fewer conduct issues this weekend. Big Ten coaches know the league will be watching closely.

Indiana sensing opportunity -- The Hoosiers prepare for their most anticipated home game in recent memory as No. 9 Ohio State visits Memorial Stadium. There are no moral victories in the Big Ten, but Indiana can take several positives from the way it performed last week in Ann Arbor. Quarterback Ben Chappell and running back Darius Willis need to be at their best against a ferocious Buckeyes defense, while defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton have to generate consistent pressure on Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.

Royston aims for revenge -- Minnesota safety Kim Royston has waited a long time to see his former Wisconsin teammates and coaches. He finally gets his chance Saturday as the Gophers defense tries to slow down hot quarterback Scott Tolzien, the Big Ten's most efficient passer. Royston is seeking revenge against the Badgers after being bumped down the depth chart, and former Badgers teammate Jay Valai thinks Saturday will be "judgment day" for the Minnesota junior.

Northwestern's tackling turmoil -- Head coach Pat Fitzgerald can't believe how poorly his team has tackled this season, particularly last week against Minnesota, and things need to turn around Saturday at Purdue. The Wildcats' veteran-laden defense was supposed to be the team's strength, but they have repeatedly blown leads and been pushed around by Syracuse and Minnesota. Northwestern has to be fundamentally sound against speedy Boilers running back Ralph Bolden, who still leads the league with 122 rush yards per game.

Lions line in limbo -- Penn State's new-look offensive line got exposed in its first major test of the season, as Iowa racked up two sacks, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a safety last Saturday. A lot of questions remain for the Lions as they head to Champaign. Head coach Joe Paterno noted this week how it's tough for his running backs to stay patient and wait for holes to open up. If Penn State can get Evan Royster and Stephfon Green going Saturday, it should be in decent shape for the meat of the Big Ten slate.

Michigan on the defensive -- Despite Michigan's 4-0 start, many questions linger about Greg Robinson's defense, which struggled against both Notre Dame and Indiana. Michigan State might be 1-3, but the Spartans are extremely deep at both wide receiver and tight end. They'll provide a good test for the Michigan secondary, which might start redshirt freshman J.T. Floyd opposite Donovan Warren at cornerback.