Penn State will look to keep itself perfect when it travels to West Lafayette to face Purdue in a Noon EST game that will be televised by ESPN. This will be a good test for the Nittany Lion defense to show it can up to snuff. Whatever Purdue's flaws, moving the ball isn't one of them. While PSU's defense is certainly not a bad unit, it hasn't been championship level. As far as this game goes, Penn State isn't in serious danger of losing, as their offense is now good enough to win a track meet. But whether the Lion D can keep things under control will be a good barometer of how far they might go. One part of that defense, middle linebacker Josh Hull speaks to The Centre Daily Times about his performance so far.
Michigan hosts Illinois in the 3:30 EST ABC time slot. I'm not ready to buy the notion that UM's comeback against Wisconsin marked a huge turning point, not when the Badgers made nearly as many mistakes as the Wolverines. Illinois has hung around with legitimate national contenders in Missouri & Penn State, and has shown an ability to put points on the board. Sooner or later, Rich Rodriguez is going to have find get some production out of his offense. The winner of this game puts itself squarely in the mix for a New Year's Day bowl bid. The loser probably has to settle on playing sometime prior to January 1. Mark Snyder of The Detroit Free Press writes that just as the UM offensive line was getting healthy, they are hit by injuries in other places.
The prime-time show is Ohio State & Wisconsin, a game that had a lot of steam taken out of it by the Badger collapse in Ann Arbor. Wisconsin is now fighting to keep its season from spinning away. Ohio State looked ready to take advantage of the fresh start conference play offered them and keeping it up in Madison will get Big Ten eyes pointing toward their showdown with Penn State. Terrelle Prior will have to show he can handle the spotlight of prime-time in a hostile environment. Prior is just one example of what Ken Gordon at The Columbus Dispatch says is Jim Tressel's willingness to show his seniors that seniority does not guarantee playing time.