Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 12, 2015

The battle for Floyd of Rosedale is the highlight of this week, as Minnesota takes on Iowa for the iconic bronze pig bauble. The Golden Gophers are fighting for their bowl life, while the Hawkeyes are battling to stay perfect.

Ohio State and Illinois will play for prized turtle Illibuck. The Buckeyes have won the last seven meetings. In fact, Ohio State hasn?t lost in Champaign since 1991. More OSU dominance: Since losing five in a row to the Fighting Illini from 1988-92, OSU is 16-4 vs. Illinois. And all four defeats have been in Columbus.

Nebraska whipped Rutgers, 42-24, last year in Lincoln. Now, the Cornhuskers will make their first trip to Piscataway, N.J. Nebraska did play on the road against Rutgers in 1920, but it was in New York City, as the Huskers prevailed, 28-0.

Also, again, it was 1920.

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Michigan State is 5-1 vs. Maryland, winning 37-15 in College Park last year in their first Big Ten meeting. This will be the Terrapins? first trip to East Lansing since 1950, when Maryland won, 34-7.

Northwestern is 3-1 in its last four games vs. Purdue. But the last time the Boilermakers visited Evanston in 2010, they won.

Since 1968, Indiana has one win vs. Michigan-coming in 1987 in Bloomington. The Wolverines lead the all-time series, 54-9.

Wisconsin and Penn State are off.

BEST GAME: Floyd of Rosedale will be on the line as Iowa faces Minnesota for the 109th time. This will be Iowa?s first home game against the Gophers since 2012 when Iowa won 31-13. Iowa has won six straight in this series in Iowa City, last losing in 1999 when BTN?s Glen Mason coached the Gophers. Minnesota in 4-5, losers of three in a row and four of five as they begin a new era with Tracy Claeys, who got the full-time gig this week. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are aiming for the first 10-0 start in school annals as they push toward the West title.

PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner. If the Gophers want any chance to win in Kinnick Stadium, Leidner must excel. The good news: Leidner is having the best stretch of his career. He has thrown for 899 yards in his last three games against Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio State. However, Minnesota has lost all three of those games to fall to 3-5. Still, if Leidner is passing well, it should open the ground game and give this often-plodding offense balance vs. a rugged Iowa defense.

BEST MATCHUP: Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Illinois front seven led by Jihad Ward, Dawuane Smoot, Rob Bain and Chunky Clements. Elliott has rushed for over 100 yards in 14 consecutive games and paces the Big Ten with 1,244 yards rushing and 14 rushing TDs. The Fighting Illini have an underrate defensive -line that helps limit foes to 139.4 ypg (3.8 ypc). Ward and Smoot are NFL players. Can they slow down Elliott and help Illinois shock the world like it did in 2007 when the Illini beat the No. 1 Buckeyes?

BEST QUARTERBACK MATCHUP: I like Indiana?s Nate Sudfeld vs. Michigan?s Jake Rudock. But let?s go with Illinois? Wes Lunt vs. Ohio State?s J.T. Barrett. Lunt guided the Illini to a massive blowout at Purdue last week, hitting 19-of-33 passes for 169 yards with three touchdowns. Lunt has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 2,000 yards with 12 touchdowns and four picks this season. Barrett is coming off a one-game suspension following his arrest for OWI. This will be just his second start of 2015. Last season, Barrett completed 15 of 24 passes for 167 yards with two touchdowns against the Illini, while also running for 38 yards. Last week, the Buckeyes offense missed Barrett. They had just two offensive touchdowns in the first 58 minutes of the game. They also had only seven plays of 10-or-more yards in that stretch before Cardale Jones? 38-yard TD run put the game away late. The 376 total yards were Ohio State?s fewest in a game since having 298 on September 19th against Northern Illinois.

BEST COACHING MATCHUP: Yes, Bill Cubit remains the ?interim? head coach at Illinois, but he?s a sage mind with 14 years of head coaching experience and has a 90-69-1 career mark. He won?t be intimidated by Urban Meyer, who has won 47 of his first 50 games in Columbus. Ohio State has won 22 games in a row and has won 29 straight Big Ten regular-season games, which is tied for the longest conference win streak in FBS history (Florida State won 29 straight vs. ACC teams from 1992-95).

BEST COORDINATOR MATCHUP: Michigan defensive coordinator Tim Drevno vs. Indiana offensive coordinator Kevin Johns. The Hoosiers have the No. 1 offense in the Big Ten (467.6 ypg), and IU is fourth in scoring (33.1 ppg). Michigan has the No. 1 defense in the league (240.0 ypg) and is No. 2 in scoring (11.9 ppg). It is the Hoosier running game that often is most effective, ranking fifth in the league (180.6 ypg). RB Jordan Howard will be tested vs. the No. 1 Big Ten rush defense (80.6 ypg).

UPSET ALERT: Iowa is authoring a storybook season, unbeaten and No. 5 in the College Football Poll. A win Saturday would give the program its first 10-0 start in school annals. But the Hawkeyes need to be wary of visiting Minnesota, a big rival that wants to keep Floyd of Rosedale after drubbing Iowa, 51-14, last season. The Gophers? bowl hopes are waning, as they have lost three in a row and four of five to fall to 4-5. The Golden Gophers may get a boost from this being the first time Tracy Claeys will take the field as the full-time coach after having the ?interim? tag removed on Wednesday.


1. Minnesota at Iowa
2. Ohio State at Illinois
3. Michigan at Indiana
4. Nebraska at Rutgers
5. Maryland at Michigan State
6. Purdue at Northwestern