Big Ten This Week Football

Forget the playoffs. If Michigan wants to remain a factor in the East division race, it’ll almost certainly have to upset the Nittany Lions on the road on Saturday night in Happy Valley.

Associated Press file

Some things to watch during Week 8 of Big Ten play, with 12 teams in action:

Game of the Week

No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 3-0). Forget the playoffs. If Michigan wants to remain a factor in the East division race, it’ll almost certainly have to upset the Nittany Lions on the road on Saturday night in Happy Valley. The Wolverines have slipped to fourth in the division, and No. 6 Ohio State remains on their schedule. Penn State features the league’s stingiest defense at just nine points allowed per game, while Michigan’s middling offense (27.2 points per game) is slotted between Northwestern and Purdue.

Best matchup

Michigan’s front vs. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. The Wolverines have made life miserable for opposing rushing attacks, allowing just 85.8 yards per game on just 2.6 yards a carry. Barkley is arguably the best back in America and a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, but if Michigan can keep him under wraps, it has a shot. The problem, of course, is that Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley leads the league in passing yards.

Inside the numbers

Penn State and fifth-ranked Wisconsin are two of just eight FBS teams still unbeaten. The Nittany Lions are 6-0 for the first time since 2008. ... Both Michigan and Ohio State won their 500th Big Ten games last week. The Wolverines improved to 500-203-18 in conference games, while the Buckeyes are 500-173-24. ...Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor ranks third in the country with 164.3 yards rushing per game.

Long shot

Maryland (3-3, 1-2) vs. Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0). The Terrapins are coming off a 16-point loss at home to Northwestern (3-3, 1-2). The unbeaten Badgers held off Purdue 17-9 last week, but just one of their six opponents has scored more than 17 points.

Player to watch

Maryland WR D.J. Moore. He had the best game of his season last week against Northwestern, hauling in 12 passes for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

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