Week 10 preview: Spotlight shines on old rivals

Week 10 preview: Spotlight shines on old rivals

I continue my look at each week of the Big Ten 2013 schedule, and I move on and examine Week 10 today. My game of the week? It has to be Michigan at Michigan State. Michigan State needs no motivation vs. Michigan. Before losing, 12-10, last year in Ann Arbor, Michigan State had won four in a row in this oh-so-heated rivalry. So, the Spartans know they can beat the Wolverines. Reasserting its power in this series is critical for Michigan State in its quest for a successful season. But Michigan wants to begin a run of dominance of its own.

Before the Spartans ripped off four wins in succession from 2008-11, the Wolverines won six in a row from 2002-07.

[ MORE: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 ]

Week 10 Storylines: Every team is in action for the first time since Sept. 14. … The Northwestern at Nebraska game shapes up as a possible de facto Legends Division title contest. The Wildcats won the last time they visited Lincoln, taking a 28-25 triumph in 2011. And they had the Cornhuskers beat last season in Evanston before blowing a 28-16 fourth-quarter lead and falling, 29-28. … The Minnesota at Indiana game will feature two rising programs. Enhancing IU’s chances to beat the Gophers is the fact it will be coming off a bye. More reason for Hoosier optimism: The Gophers have won in Bloomington just one time (2005) since prevailing in 1985, going 1-8 at Indiana during the stretch. … The Boilermakers have had a weird whammy on the Buckeyes, winning the last two meetings in West Lafayette and three of the last four in Ross-Ade Stadium. The hex nearly continued last season, but Purdue blew a late eight-point lead in Columbus before falling in overtime, 29-22. … Illinois coaches rankled Penn State coaches last year when they allegedly went to State College, Pa., and tried to woo Nittany Lions players, who were allowed to transfer anywhere and have immediate eligibility. Penn State took it out on the Fighting Illini in a 35-7 whipping last year in Champaign.

Let’s rank Week 10 games:
1. Michigan at Michigan State
2. Northwestern at Nebraska
3. Wisconsin at Iowa
4. Ohio State at Purdue
5. Illinois at Penn State
6. Minnesota at Indiana

Quarterback matchup to watch: It will be fun to watch Northwestern’s Kain Colter take on Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. The last time the Wildcats played in Lincoln, Colter came off the bench to replace an injured Dan Persa and promptly led unranked NU to a shocking 28-25 triumph over No. 10 Nebraska. Colter has continued to improve as a passer. And he may be the athletic equal of Martinez, who is looking to cap a marvelous career with a run to a Big Ten title. The loser of this game may be out of the running in the Legends Division.

Coordinator matchup to watch: Keep an eye on the strategy between Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, two of the best in the business. Borges will have full use of his playbook with Devin Gardner under center and Michigan using a true pro-style. How will Narduzzi deal with the Wolverines’ new scheme? His cause will be helped by having arguably the top defense in the Big Ten—again.

Upset alert: When the Big Ten went to divisions in 2011, one casualty was the Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry, as each school was put in opposite divisions. Well, the rivals will meet for the first time since 2010. The Badgers have won three of the last five, but the Hawkeyes have taken six of the last nine. The Iowa-Wisconsin series is 42-42-2. The Badgers need to careful when they travel to Iowa City. The Hawkeyes may be battling for their bowl life at this point, as Wisconsin is trying to punch its ticket to a fourth Rose Bowl in a row.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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