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Bouncing Around the Big Ten: Iowa hosts Wisconsin in key Big Ten West battle

A look at all Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska's upcoming contests, as well as a glimpse at the rest of the conference.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Iowa-1
Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Arland Bruce IV (10) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Spencer Petras (not pictured) during the first quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 at Kinnick Stadium.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today
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Iowa's defense stood tall against Purdue, while Minnesota knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln last week. Here's a look at all three teams' upcoming contests, as well as a glimpse at the rest of the conference.

Iowa takes on Wisconsin looking to stay in fight for Big Ten West

Resurgent Wisconsin and host Iowa will put two-game winning streaks on the line Saturday when the Heartland Trophy is up for grabs in Iowa City.

The winner will remain in the thick of the congested Big Ten West, with the Badgers angling to claim the bronze bull trophy for the sixth time in seven tries.

Wisconsin (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) scored a 23-10 victory at home over Maryland last week, while the Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) posted a 24-3 win at Purdue.

Iowa and Wisconsin are among a four-team logjam one game behind Illinois in the West Division after the Illini’s 23-15 loss at home against Michigan State.

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Purdue and Minnesota also are 3-3 in the conference.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Iowa-2
Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras (7) throws a pass against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2022 at Kinnick Stadium.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today

The Badgers improved to 3-1 under interim coach Jim Leonhard, promoted from defensive coordinator when Paul Chryst surprisingly was fired following a 34-10 loss at home to Illinois on Oct 1.

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing with 989 yards. Quarterback Graham Mertz, interception-prone in the Badgers’ losses, has nine touchdowns and one pick in his last four games.

Although last in the Big Ten in total offense, Iowa’s much-maligned attack has come alive the last two games. After averaging 227.3 yards in total offense through the first seven games, the Hawkeyes totaled 398 in a 33-13 win at Northwestern, followed by 376 yards against Purdue.

Freshman Kaleb Johnson carried 22 times for 200 yards and one touchdown against the Boilermakers, second most for a Hawkeyes freshman behind Marcus Coker’s 219 vs. Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

“After seeing the film, no question, I think it was our most complete football game as a team so far, so that was good to see,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of the Purdue game. “Offensively, we showed more growth, played with good balance.”

A look at five guys who could take home the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year award, as well as a look at the action from around the conference

Iowa is third in the nation in fewest yards allowed with 264.4 per game and fifth in scoring defense at 14.3 points.

“Tremendous amount of respect for the way they play defense,” Leonhard said. “It’s very different from my philosophy and what we do and how we do it. So any time you’re kind of looking at the complete opposite side of the coin and watching a team just consistently dominate, you gain an appreciation for it.”

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Questions at quarterback loom for bowl-eligible Minnesota

Golden Gophers starter Tanner Morgan sustained an upper-body injury on the last play of the first half last weekend, leaving backup Athan Kaliakmanis to pilot a come-from-behind, 20-13 victory at Nebraska.

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck didn’t offer an update on Morgan’s health Monday, but stressed the Golden Gophers (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) must harness the resiliency they showed at Nebraska either way.

Fleck suggested Minnesota might take a lesson from Kaliakmanis on that front.

Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for two touchdowns after halftime and finished with 128 yards on 32 carries.

110522 HuskersGophers Mo Ibrahim.JPG
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim stiff arms a Nebraska defender during a Big Ten Conference college football game on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Regardless of who plays quarterback against Northwestern (1-8, 1-5 Big Ten), the Golden Gophers figure to feature Ibrahim plenty. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in 17 successive games and has at least 30 carries in three straight contests.

The Wildcats produced a 100-yard rusher of their own against visiting No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday, but Evan Hull’s 122 yards and first-quarter touchdown weren’t enough as the Buckeyes outscored Northwestern 14-0 after halftime to earn a 21-7 victory.

Northwestern has lost eight consecutive games, tying the 1998 team’s slide, but the program felt good about its fight against Ohio State after losing by 20 at Iowa in its previous game.

“We just stepped up to the plate,” Wildcats defensive back Cameron Mitchell said. “Coming off a tough loss, we knew what we had coming ahead and we knew we can’t avoid it, so we just decided we were going to take it and we were going to attack, so we did.”

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Minnesota has won the past two meetings against Northwestern, including a 41-14 road victory last season.

Nebraska travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan’s running back duo

Nebraska will have to prepare for dynamic running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards when the Cornhuskers travel to Ann Arbor to face the undefeated Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) moved up to No. 3 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

Corum entered the week ranked fourth nationally with 1,187 rushing yards and tied for first with 17 total touchdowns. Corum and the Wolverines perked up after trailing 17-10 at halftime against Rutgers Saturday night, as Michigan pulled away to a 52-17 victory.

Corum finished with 109 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Edwards compiled the same number of rushing yards on 15 carries and also led the team in receiving with three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Edwards missed two games due to an injury but re established himself as a major threat when he rushed for 173 yards and scored two touchdowns against Penn State on Oct. 15.

Edwards’ production hasn’t hurt Corum, who has rushed for over 100 yards in all six Big Ten contests. He’s scored at least one touchdown in every game.

The Cornhuskers (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten) have lost three straight and will need to win their remaining three games to become bowl eligible.

Nebraska led Minnesota 10-0 at halftime on Saturday but the Golden Gophers rallied for a 20-13 victory.

Cornhuskers quarterbacks Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers combined for just 121 passing yards while completing 11 of 26 attempts.

Purdy got his first start in place of Casey Thompson, who injured a nerve in his right elbow the previous game against Illinois. Thompson is questionable to play against Michigan.

110522 HuskersGophers Purdy run2.JPG
Nebraska's Chubba Purdy runs for first-quarter touchdown against Minnesota during a Big Ten Conference college football game on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

One bright spot for Nebraska has been Anthony Grant. He is the first Nebraska running back since 2018 to have five 100-yard rushing games in a season. He gained 115 yards on 21 carries against Minnesota.

Interim coach Mickey Joseph expects the team to give a full effort despite being nearly a 30-point underdog.

“We’re not going to back down. We’re not going to throw in the towel,” he said. “These kids won’t do that. These coaches won’t do that.”

Last week’s Big Ten scores

Saturday, Nov. 5

Minnesota 20, Nebraska 13
Iowa 24, Purdue 3
Ohio State 21, Northwestern 7
Michigan 52, Rutgers 17
Penn State 45, Indiana 14
Michigan State 23, Illinois 15
Wisconsin 23, Maryland 10

This week’s games

Saturday, Nov. 12

Indiana at No. 2 Ohio State, 11 a.m.
Purdue at No. 21 Illinois, 11 a.m.
Rutgers at Michigan State, 11 a.m.
Northwestern at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m.
Nebraska at No. 3 Michigan, 2:30 p.m.
Wisconsin at Iowa, 2:30 p.m.
Maryland at No. 14 Penn State, 2:30 p.m.

College Football Playoff Rankings

  • Ohio State stood pat at No. 2 following a win over Northwestern.
  • Michigan moved up two spots to No. 3 after both Tennessee and Alabama lost last week.
  • Penn State climbed one spot to No. 14 after beating Indiana.
  • Illinois dropped five spots to No. 21 following a loss to Michigan State.

Clear your schedule

Three FBS games you should tune into this weekend:

No. 22 UCF at No. 17 Tulane — 2:30 p.m. Saturday — A battle to determine the front-runner for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid. Tulane gives up 307 yards per game, while UCF racks up 501 yards and 36 points per contest.

No. 19 Kansas State at Baylor — 6 p.m. Saturday — Baylor has won three straight games and Kansas State is coming off a loss to Texas — both teams are tied with the Longhorns at 4-2 in the conference and a win would go a long way in either squad’s hopes to make the Big 12 championship.

No. 15 North Carolina at Wake Forest — 6:30 p.m. Saturday — UNC is in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal, but the Tarheels give up 31 points per game and Wake Forest comes in with one of the best passing offenses in the country looking to snap a two-game skid.

Note: This report was compiled in part through previews from Field Level Media.

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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