Michigan looks to establish their first win streak of the season when they host Northwestern on ESPN2 (Noon EST). The Wolverines finally played a complete game last week. Unlike their earlier win against Wisconsin, which was built on a crazy fourth quarter, the victory over Minnesota was complete and gives hope to UM partisans that they can win another home game against a team pushing for good bowl position. Northwestern has had a nice season and met every expectation one could reasonably have put upon them. But they've never been terribly impressive, at least by the standards it would take to win consistently on the road. The deck is stacked for Rich Rodriguez to get a little momentum going into Columbus.
Ohio State looks to avenge its lone regular season loss of last season when they visit Champaign (Noon EST, ESPN). In fact over the past four seasons, only Illinois & Penn State have managed to beat the Buckeyes in the Big Ten and now Jim Tressel's squad has a share of its fourth straight conference crown in their crosshairs. The key will be whether Illinois establishes a running game. If they do, Juice Williams will be set up for a big day and we've all seen how the Illini attack can explode when Williams and Aurelious Benn get clicking. But if there's no running game to draw attention from the defense, we've also seen how turnovers can doom this club. And no one cashes in turnovers better then Tressel's Bucks.
The ABC game will be Minnesota's visit to Wisconsin. The Gophers are now in a slump and missing receiver Eric Decker. The Badgers seem to have found a little bit of life again after their thumping of Indiana, and this border war is always enough to get emotions running sky-high. UW's on a four-game winning streak in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and only once during that streak (2005 when a miracle blocked punt pulled out a win) were they in danger of losing. With the Gopher offense missing its best threat, and the game being at Camp Randall, it's entirely in Wisconsin's hands if they want to continue the streak.