Things to watch during Week 5 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 2 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Nebraska (2-2, 0-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
A smothering defense has led Michigan to four easy wins at home. Now the Wolverines go on the road for the first time against a fellow historic program in Nebraska. First-year Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule is leaning hard on a vastly improved defense while an offense with few playmakers chugs along. The Wolverines hammered the Huskers 34-3 in Ann Arbor last year but escaped with a 32-29 win in their 2021 visit to Lincoln. Michigan's defense will face a new wrinkle with Nebraska's offense mixing in option plays to counter a dearth of depth at receiver.
Illinois (2-2, 0-1) at Purdue (1-3, 0-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Peacock)
Bret Bielema squares off against his former defensive coordinator in Purdue coach Ryan Walters, who took four Illinois assistants with him to West Lafayette. Both teams are desperate for a win in the wide-open West Division. Bielema signed a new six-year contract in December following an eight-win season and the program's first bowl since 2008. But there's a sense progress has stalled. Walters, who took over the defending West champion Boilermakers, is 0-3 at home and his team has committed seven turnovers over the past two games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Penn State has won nine straight games, all by at least 14 points. Over the last two years, no other FBS team has had such a streak longer than six games. ... Michigan and Nebraska are among eight teams with at least 900 all-time wins. ... Maryland's plus-31 fourth-quarter point differential the past two weeks is best in the FBS; Minnesota's minus-28 is the worst, according to Sportradar. ... Bryce Kirtz's 215 receiving yards for Northwestern against Minnesota last week are most in the Big Ten this season. ... Rutgers, which hosts Wagner, has won 15 straight against FCS opponents since losing to New Hampshire in 2004.
Michigan State is an 12 1/2-point underdog at Iowa, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Spartans have scored only 16 points over their past two games, and Iowa's defense typically doesn't allow many. Michigan State has a puncher's chance as long as Iowa's offense continues to underperform. The Hawkeyes managed just 76 total yards in a 31-0 loss at Penn State last week. If the Spartans can get pressure on Cade McNamara — and they are capable of it — this one could be close.
Indiana RB-WR Jaylin Lucas must be more of a threat when the Hoosiers play at Maryland. Lucas is the Hoosiers' most versatile player and was the team's leading receiver through three games. He was not targeted once during Indiana's four-overtime win over Akron after he caught 10 balls for 98 yards against Louisville. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell needs to find ways to get Lucas the ball in the open field to test, according to Pro Football Focus, one of the nation's highest-graded tackling teams.