Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 17, 2015

Just two weeks remain in the regular season, and both division titles remain up for grabs.

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Iowa can clinch the West with a win-or a Wisconsin loss vs. Northwestern. The Michigan State at Ohio State will go a long in shaping the East champ. But don't forget about Michigan or Penn State in the East race, teams that face off at Beaver Stadium.

Nebraska is off, the lone Big Ten team with an open week.

Get my Week 12 previews below:

Indiana (4-6, 0-6) at Maryland (2-8, 0-6) – noon ET, BTN (watch on BTN2Go)

A battle of winless Big Ten teams, as each comes in with 0-6 conference marks. In fact, the Terrapins are riding a seven-game losing skid as they wheeze toward the finish line. Remember when IU started 4-0 and Maryland began 2-1? Indiana needs to win its final two games to become bowl eligible. Maryland?s bowl hopes were buried a few weeks ago. Both of these teams have good rushing games (IU, 197.7 ypg; Maryland, 169.3). Indiana?s Jordan Howard is a shredder, ripping Michigan for 238 yards rushing last week, one week after putting up 174 yards and becoming the first player to rush for multiple scores vs. Iowa. What will he do to Maryland?s pudding defense that allows 160 rushing yards per game? Terps QB Perry Hills leads the worst offense in the league (336.0 ypg). Rampant turnovers have helped bankrupt this season, as the Terps have 35 giveaways this season with 28 of them being interceptions. No other team has thrown more than 20 interceptions nationally.


Purdue (2-8, 1-5) at Iowa (10-0, 6-0) – noon ET, ESPN2

The party rolls on in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes are 10-0 for the first time ever. Vanquish the Boilermakers, or have Wisconsin lose vs. Northwestern, and Iowa will clinch the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes are anchored by a strong rushing attack led by a deep collection of running backs. Iowa is the first FBS team since LSU in 1997 to have at least three players run for 195 yards in a game in the same season. That?s horrible news for a Purdue defense that has been trampled for 632 yards rushing the last two weeks. How spectacularly bad is this rushing defense? Purdue is last in the Big Ten, allowing 209.6 ypg, almost 40 yards more per game than the second-to-last team (Indiana, 170.7 ypg). QB C.J. Beathard has battled injury but looked healthy last week. The Boilermakers are playing out the string in another lost season. On offense, Purdue is rudderless and limp. The Boilers have been held to 21 points or fewer in five of their six conference games and have been limited to 14 points in each of their last two games.


Illinois (5-5, 2-4) at Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) – noon ET, ESPN News

Illinois is one win away from becoming bowl eligible. However, the Fighting Illini haven?t been good away from home, losing three of four games. Minnesota gets a slight break in the schedule. The Golden Gophers played three top 15 teams in a row and pushed all of them but couldn?t register a win. This is the first time the Gophers will not play a ranked team in over a month (Oct. 17 vs. Nebraska). QB Mitch Leidner is on top of his game. Over his last four games, he?s completing more than 61 percent of his passes for 1,158 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He?s also run for three touchdowns. Illinois needs to run the ball to help make its offense balanced. The Illini ran for 382 yards against Purdue but were held to just 20 rushing yards against Ohio State. They have been held to 55 rushing yards or fewer in four of their last five games. Minnesota?s attack can sympathize as its main issue is inconsistency in the running game. The Golden Gophers rushing yardage totals the last seven games: 204, 74, 326, 65, 144, 33, 133.


Michigan (8-2, 5-1) at Penn State (7-3, 4-2) – noon ET, ABC

Both teams are still in the hunt for the Big Ten East title. This game will feature a good battle of quarterbacks. Michigan QB Jake Rudock enters with a ton of confidence, throwing for a school-record six touchdown passes in last week's double-overtime win at Indiana. In his last two games, he?s thrown for 777 yards with eight touchdowns and an interception. In his six games leading into the loss at Northwestern, Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg was responsible for 15 touchdowns and didn?t throw an interception. But vs. the Wildcats, he was held without a touchdown pass and threw an interception. It was the first time those things have happened since September 19 against Rutgers. The Wolverines have been shaky away from Ann Arbor, while Penn State is 6-0 at home and will have a ?white out? on Senior Day. The Nittany Lions might be able to run against Michigan, which has allowed at least 128 rushing yards in each of their last three games, and Saquon Barkley has the talent to shred just about any defense.


Rutgers (3-7) at Army (2-8) – noon ET, CBS Sports

The last non-conference game on the Big Ten menu. The Scarlet Knights need a sip from the cup of victory, as they are mired in a four-game losing streak. Army may be just the elixir Rutgers needs. Army is 2-8 with wins over Eastern Michigan and FCS Bucknell. But know this: It has lost six games by seven points or fewer, including a 20-14 loss at Penn State back on October 3rd. Army is an option team, which could be an issue for Rutgers run defense. The Black Knights are ninth nationally in rushing, averaging more than 253 yards per game. They ran for 261 yards against Penn State. RU is allowing 195.4 rush yards in its last five games. A big reason for Rutgers? losing streak has been the defense. In their last four games, the Scarlet Knights have been outscored 177-47 and allowed more than 450 yards per game. Their smallest margin of defeat in that span was by 17 points this past weekend against Nebraska. Rutgers has played in a bowl game in nine of the last 10 seasons. However, the streak appears to be over. Rutgers finishes the season at home against Maryland next week. Still, if it finishes 5-7, there is an outside chance that the Scarlet Knights could make a bowl game if enough 6-6 teams aren?t available to fill all of the bowl slots.


Northwestern (8-2, 4-2) at Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) – 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN (watch on BTN2Go)

This will be a matchup of two of the best defenses in the nation, as both teams rank in the top 12 in scoring defense and the top 18 in total defense. So, points could be at a premium for two offenses that aren?t exactly explosive or dynamic. Wisconsin?s defense has been a steel curtain in Camp Randall Stadium this season, surrendering 10 points or fewer in all six home dates. The Badgers need to win to keep their faint West division hopes alive. However, they could also be eliminated if Iowa beats Purdue. Northwestern is still playing for a New Year?s Six bowl game. They are 8-2 with a win over Stanford. If they can add another ranked win to their resume and finish with a win over Illinois, a 10-2 Wildcats team could be ranked high enough to get an at-large bid into one of those sweet games (likely Peach or Fiesta). Wisconsin?s inconsistent attack could get a boost in the running game this week. Corey Clement returned against Rutgers and ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns. But he then missed the Maryland game with general soreness. The Badgers were off last week, so he?s had two weeks to get ready. NU relies on its own stud back in Justin Jackson, who has run for 1,000 yards for the second straight season.


Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) at Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

This is the matchup we have been waiting for since the summer, but it lost some luster when the Spartans lost at Nebraska two weeks ago. Still, each team controls its destiny in the rugged Big Ten East. J.T. Barrett will be making his first home start of the season. He had his coming out party last year against Michigan State in East Lansing, throwing for 300 yards, running for 86 more with five total TDs. Michigan State?s road games have been filled with drama this season. The Spartans needed a touchdown in the final minute to win at Rutgers. They won on the final play of the game at Michigan and they lost a 12-point lead in the final two minutes at Nebraska. Last week, Connor Cook left the game against Maryland with a shoulder injury and didn?t play in the second half. He is expected to play against the Buckeyes. Cook struggled before leaving the game last week, completing just 6-of-20 passes for 77 yards and an interception. Cook has thrown for 662 yards with five touchdowns and an interception in his two games against Ohio State. The teams have split the last four meetings. The last time the home team won in this series was in 2007, when Ohio State won, 24-17, in Mark Dantonio?s first season at Michigan State.


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