We take a look around the Big Ten for the biggest news and storylines.
Between games every week, we’ll get you caught up on what’s happening in the Big Ten. Here are five storylines from across the conference to keep an eye on heading into Saturday’s contests.
Michigan State (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten):
After rushing for over 690 yards each of his first three seasons as a Spartan, L.J. Scott is averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per carry this year. He returned last week from an ankle injury to a team that’s been ineffective running the ball all season. With five games left in his college career, Scott has an opportunity to give Michigan State’s offense an added dimension before he graduates. Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal wrote a column about Scott’s role the rest of the season.
Minnesota (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten):
On the heels of last week’s 53-28 loss to Nebraska, the Cornhuskers’ first win of the season, criticism of head coach P.J. Fleck has intensified dramatically. Purdue’s demolition of Ohio State, also under a second-year head coach, only make things worse. Blake Ruane of thedailygopher.com argued in a piece this week that there is no reason to believe Fleck is capable of leading the Gophers to success.
Purdue (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten):
Fresh off arguably the biggest upset of the college football season to date and on a four-game winning streak, Travis Miller of SB Nation asked the question on everyone’s mind: what’s next for the Boilermakers? A birth in the Big Ten championship game is a realistic goal. However, three of Purdue’s final five games are on the road. The two at home are against teams currently ranked in the top 25, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Nebraska (1-6, 1-4 Big Ten):
Now that Scott Frost finally has a win under his belt at Nebraska, the conversation surrounding his team can head in a different direction. Half of the Cornhuskers’ six losses were by five points or less, suggesting this team might not be as bad as its record indicates. SB Nation’s Bill Connelly made the case through win expectancy data that according to the numbers, Frost’s rebuild is actually right on track.
Maryland (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten)/Illinois (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten):
As the Terrapins and Illini get set for their first-ever meeting on Saturday, much of the discussion surrounding this game has focused on Maryland’s passing game. Quarterback Kasim Hill went 6-of-15 for 47 yards in the Terrapins’ 23-0 loss to Iowa last week. Head coach Matt Canada acknowledges his team’s quarterback play needs to improve but doesn’t think it’s the only reason for the offense’s struggles. Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun got the thoughts of both head coaches regarding Maryland’s heavy reliance on its running game.