Big Two and the Little 12: Why Ohio State and Michigan Are Miles Ahead in the Big Ten

Big Ten

There’s Ohio State, Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten. That’s a familiar refrain when it comes to football, and it’s playing out against this season with the Buckeyes and Wolverines, ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and among the top 10 nationally in scoring offense and scoring defense, looking dominant in the conference once again.

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Michigan wiped Penn State off the contender for the Big Ten championship map last weekend with a 41-17 win over the Nittany Lions. Heisman Trophy hopeful Blake Corum ran for more than 100 yards for the fourth straight game and rushed for his national-best 13th touchdown to lead the Wolverines to the decisive victory.

We’re a month away from the Michigan at Ohio State showdown. The game will be played Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Saturday menu

In the meantime, let’s look at Saturday’s Big Ten games:

Big Ten Saturday: Iowa vs. Ohio State

Ohio State (6-0, 3-0) should have no problem with Iowa (3-3, 1-2) when the Hawkeyes pay a visit to Columbus. The Buckeyes will score more points on their first couple possessions than Iowa will score all afternoon. The Hawkeyes are scoring just 14.7 points per game, which ties them for 130th place in the nation. Ohio State is scoring a national-best 48.8 points per game. Iowa is giving up just 9.8 points per game, third-lowest in the nation, but the Hawkeyes’ defense hasn’t faced anyone with the weapons the Buckeyes have.

Purdue vs Wisconsin

If Purdue (5-2, 3-1) wants to win the crazy Big Ten West, it must beat Wisconsin (3-4, 1-3) at Camp Randall Stadium. This looks to be a high-scoring game. The Boilermakers are averaging 34.0 points per game and the Badgers are averaging 31.3 points per game and neither team has a stellar defense. Purdue, which received votes in the AP poll, will take a four-game winning streak into the game. It’s the first four-game winning streak for he Boilermakers since 2018. Purdue beat Nebraska 43-37 last week with quarterback Aidan O’Connell throwing for 300-plus yards for the 12th time in his career. He’s thrown for 200-plus yards in 20 of 21 career starts. Devin Mockobee ran for 178 yards against Nebraska, the most ever by a Purdue freshman.

Northwestern vs Maryland

Northwestern (1-5, 1-2 ) is the worst team in the Big Ten. Just like the good old days. The Wildcats, losers of five straight, will play at Maryland (5-2, 2-2), which is averaging 34.6 points per game. Maryland received votes in the AP poll.

Indiana vs Rutgers

Something has to give when Indiana (3-4, 1-3) plays at Rutgers (3-3, 0-3). Indiana has lost four straight. Rutgers has dropped three games in a row.

Minnesota vs Penn State

The lone night game on the Big Ten schedule is perhaps the most intriguing. Can No. 16 Penn State (5-1, 2-1) rebound from the spanking it took at Michigan? Minnesota (4-2, 1-2) has lost two straight after winning four in a row to start the season. The Gophers received votes in the AP poll.

No. 18 Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska each have a bye.

Could the Big Ten Championship Game be on the lookout for a new venue?

The Picks are In

Here are our picks:
— Indiana at Rutgers, noon EDT, Big Ten Network. Take Indiana +3.
— Iowa at Ohio State, noon EDT, FOX. Take Ohio State -29.5
— Purdue at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN. Take Purdue +2.5.
— Northwestern at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Big Ten Network. Take Maryland -13.5.
— Minnesota at Penn State, 7:30 p.m. EDT, ABC. Take Penn State -4.5.

Fans Flocking to Stadiums

Finally, let’s give a shout out to Big Ten football fans, who come out in impressive numbers to support their teams. Seven Big Ten programs rank among the nation’s top 25 in attendance per home game: No. 1 Michigan (110,053), No. 2 Penn State (106,485), No. 3 Ohio State (104,355), No. 10 Nebraska (86,854), No. 19 Wisconsin (73,578), No. 20 Michigan State (72,786) and No. 21 Iowa (69,250). Twelve of the top 15 single-game crowds this season were at Big Ten stadiums including the top six.


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