Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 8, 2015
Week 5 features just one non-conference game, with Penn State hosting Army, and the Big Ten's first bye of the season (Rutgers).
Penn State hasn?t played Army since 1979, winning the last nine meetings. Army last beat the Nittany Lions in 1966, Joe Paterno?s first year as head coach.
The Spartans may not have to break much of a sweat when Purdue visits. This is a Boilermakers squad that has one Big Ten victory the last two years. The Spartans have won six in a row vs. Purdue.
If you can believe it, Indiana went 2-1-1 vs. Ohio State from 1987-90-including a victory in Columbus in 1987. Since then, the Hoosiers have lost 20 in a row to the Buckeyes. When will this skid end?
Minnesota?s recent rise has coincided with Northwestern?s slide, as the Golden Gophers have won the last two meetings vs. the Wildcats. Before that, NU had won three in a row and five of six vs. Minnesota.
Game of the week: Iowa at Wisconsin. An important Big Ten West tilt right out of the gate. The Hawkeyes have lost the last three games-and five of the last seven–vs. the Badgers, who are led by new coach Paul Chryst. Interestingly, this will be Iowa?s first trip to Madison since 2009, when it took a 20-10 decision as the last three meetings have been in Iowa City because of scheduling quirks.
Best quarterback matchup: Look to Bloomington, Indiana, where the Buckeye starter (J.T. Barrett? Cardale Jones? Braxton Miller?) will face off vs. the Hoosiers? Nate Sudfeld, who hit 101-of-167 passes (60.5 percent) for 1,151 yards with six touchdowns, three interceptions and a 126.6 pass-efficiency rating in six starts before a shoulder injury at Iowa ended his 2014 season.
Best head coach matchup: The battle between Minnesota?s Jerry Kill and Northwestern?s Pat Fitzgerald will fly below the national radar. But, that?s OK. Kill has his Gophers rolling, going 8-5 in each of the last two seasons and finishing second in the West last season. Minnesota keeps getting better and could be the best team in the division, going to its first New Year?s Day bowl in 2014 since the 1961 season. Fitzgerald may be facing a crossroads season coming off consecutive 5-7 marks. That 10-win 2012 season seems long ago. Still, don?t bet against Fitz getting things turned around.
Best coordinator matchup: Nebraska?s visit to Illinois will be a nice test for the Illinois defensive coordinator tandem of Tim Banks and Mike Phair, who was hired in the offseason from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is an Illini rush defense that ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten in 2014 better? Nebraska will provide a test with sage offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, the QB coach for Eli Manning and the New York Giants before Mike Riley hired him. Look for Langsdorf quickly to emerge as one of the league?s bright coordinators.
Upset alert: It may not be much of an upset, but the Terps could knock off visiting Michigan. Maryland won in Ann Arbor last season, 23-16. The composition of the Jim Harbaugh?s first Wolverine team is a bit of an unknown-especially on offense. Randy Edsall always has his club prepared, though he is breaking in a new defensive coordinator and 4-3 scheme.
Ranking Week 5 games
1. Iowa at Wisconsin
2. Michigan at Maryland
3. Minnesota at Northwestern
4. Nebraska at Illinois
5. Purdue at Michigan State
6. Ohio State at Indiana
7. Army at Penn State
|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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