Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 21, 2014

Two interesting clashes make this Saturday appealing, as Michigan plays at Michigan State and Ohio State goes to Penn State in a light week of action.

Despite the presence of just five games, the intrigue of those aforementioned East Division contests makes this a good week.

But the most interesting/competitive clash may be an inter-division meeting between Maryland and Wisconsin. The Terps and Badgers play at noon ET, and you can catch the game on BTN (Watch on BTN2Go).

The week's top game? That has to be the in-state rivalry of Michigan-Michigan State. For the record, the Spartans have won five of the last six meetings, with the lone defeat coming in 2012 on a last-second field goal in a 12-10 loss at Michigan Stadium.

[ MORE: Check out all of our Week 9 Big Ten coverage ]

Get my Week 9 previews and game rankings below.

Michigan (3-4, 1-2) at Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. This will be juicy. It always is when these fierce rivals meet. But it also could be a blowout. No doubt, the Wolverines will be looking for payback after getting throttled by Michigan State in East Lansing last year, 29-6. That was difficult to watch-for Wolverines fans. Michigan was off last week, giving it ample time to prepare for a Spartan squad whose offense is rolling. But the defense has shown some holes. Do the Wolverines have the weapons to take advantage? So much has changed since Mark Dantonio said ?The pride comes before the fall? after losing to the Wolverines in 2007.


Ohio State (5-1, 2-0) at Penn State (4-2, 1-2) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC. This will be the first of hopefully many battles between Ohio State?s Urban Meyer and Penn State?s James Franklin. The former SEC coaches bring some swagger and cachet to the Big Ten. This could be a fun, emerging rivalry. Let?s hope it lasts for years. However, this meeting could get ugly, as these programs are on opposite trajectories. The Nittany Lions have lost two in a row after a 4-0 start, scoring over 26 points just once this season. The Buckeyes have won four in a row since losing at home to Virginia Tech, scoring over 50 points in each game. The PSU defense may have some success vs. the hot OSU offense. But can the Nittany Lions score on this strong Buckeye defense? The Buckeyes have the No. 2 scoring offense in the conference (46.5 ppg); the Nittany Lions are No. 13 in scoring (21.2 ppg).


Maryland (5-2, 2-1) at Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1) – noon ET, BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). This could be very interesting. You may not realize it, but the Terrapins are 5-2. And the lone losses were to ranked teams in West Virginia and Ohio State. The Terrapins have a dynamic offense with speed to burn and playmaker at quarterback in C.J. Brown. The defense? It?s a work in progress. The Badgers were off last week. They have the defense to mute Maryland?s offense. UW is No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring defense (17.7 ppg); The Terps are No. 4 in scoring (35.1 ppg). But how will the two-headed quarterback spot perform? Wisconsin may be able to just run Melvin Gordon 35 times and win this game.


Rutgers (5-2, 1-2) at Nebraska (6-1, 2-1) – noon ET, ESPN2. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 56-17 beat down at Ohio State. Will RU be shell-shocked when it arrives in Lincoln? The Cornhuskers are fresh off an impressive win at Northwestern that kept them in the thick of the West race. Can the Scarlet Knights score enough to keep up with Nebraska offense that?s clicking along at a good pace with an average of 41.0 points? Nebraska and Rutgers have played once, with the Cornhuskers taking a 28-0 decision in 1920 in New York. Wisconsin and Maryland never have played.


5. Minnesota (6-1, 3-0) at Illinois (3-4, 0-3) – noon ET, ESPNU
. Another classic tale of two programs going in opposite directions. The Golden Gophers have won four games in a row and are 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1990. Want more? Minnesota is 7-2 in its last nine conference tilts. QB Mitch Leidner continues to make enough plays in the passing game to keep defenses honest. The Fighting Illini, who were off last week, have lost three in a row. Issues abound, especially on a defense that bleeds yards and points. The Illini are last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (35.9 ppg) and last in total defense (484.6 ypg). Compounding matters is the fact the Illini are playing without injured QB Wes Lunt, and that limits the attack. Minnesota has won its last four trips to Champaign. The last Golden Gophers? loss in Memorial Stadium was a 25-14 decision in 2001, when Illinois went to the Rose Bowl under Ron Turner. BTN?s Glen Mason was leading Minnesota back then. Ah, memories.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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