5 B1G Things To Watch For – Week 5
Each week Phil Harrison gives you five things to watch as we get ready for the slate of Big Ten games.
It’s finally time to go into full-out Big Ten play after four weeks of hit and miss. We’ve seen some things that give us a clue as to how this conference race will all shake out, but now we really start to see teams stack up against one another.
There’s only five conference games on the docket, but there’s still plenty to keep an eye on. Here’s what to look for heading into week five of Big Ten play:
5. Can Maryland find its way?
Apparently the football gods don’t subscribe to the whole “fear the turtle” thing, as injuries have wreaked havoc on a team that had looked light years ahead of schedule.
Now down to the third string quarterback, it would be foolish to expect the ‘Terps to be the same team that went to Austin and raised some eyebrows by pulling off the upset.
Now the question remains: Just how good can Maryland be with Max Bortenschlager now saddled with all the responsibility of running the offense. It’s on to Minneapolis to take on a Minnesota team that is flying a bit under the radar, but ready to put some more oars in the water.
4. What shade of purple shows up in Madison?
All bets are off — literally. At least if you want to stay safe with putting money down on the Northwestern Wildcats. It’s sooooo Northwestern to get blasted by Duke, only to turn around and blow the doors off at least an average Bowling Green MAC squad.
There’s enough talent on this Northwestern team to play with almost anyone, but it doesn’t go to script on the field. Now comes an extremely brutal test in Camp Randall to try and get the season right.
Will Clayton Thorson, Justin Jackson, and company play with, and hang around a talented Wisconsin team, or will it be the Wildcat team that makes fans gnash their teeth and scratch their heads.
Your guess is as good as mine.
3. Litmus test time for Indiana
The Hoosiers played with Ohio State for a half in week one, then the screws came loose when everyone jogged out of the locker room to start the third quarter.
Since then Hurricane Irma threw a wrench into things, but the Hooisers came out firing on the road at Virginia, and at home against an inferior Georgia Southern.
Now it’s time to see where things are once again as Indiana travels to Happy Valley to take on a Penn State team looking to keep dreams of grandeur alive and kicking.
How will the Indiana passing game match up against the Penn State defense? Can the Hoosier defense make enough stops to stay in the game against an explosive Nittany Lion offense.
We’re about to find out.
2. Who’s for real between the Spartans and Hawkeyes?
Iowa has to reeling, coming off the near upset of Penn State. The Spartans have to be chomping at the bit to get back on the field after making a slew of mistakes against Notre Dame.
It feels like both of these teams are right at a crossroad, trying to find out which path to take. Can the Spartans get the running game going against Josey Jewell and company, and can Iowa move the ball enough against a MSU defense that can be stout when the offense holds up its end of the bargain?
Something tells me this is a pivotal game for both schools, with the winner going on to better things, and the loser left to reset realistic goals for 2017.
1. Is Ohio State ready to explode?
We all remember the score from last year in Columbus when Rutgers came to town. Yep, 58-0. Welcome to the Big Ten Chris Ash.
So here we go in 2017. Can Ohio State continue to work on finding an identity against Rutgers? Better yet, can the Scarlet Knights score some points and keep this thing closer than what we saw last year?
As good as Ohio State has looked the last couple of weeks, you get the feeling it was more a product of the opponent than suddenly flipping the switch.
But here’s the deal. Parris Campbell is really good. J.K. Dobbins leads the Big Ten in rushing (yes, surprising as that may be). That defensive line is as talented as any in the country.
Yet … OSU has yet to put it all together. It has three more weeks to try and do so before Penn State comes to town for the exam it has been studying for. Consider this a pop quiz on the way to October 28.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB