Predicting every Big Ten football game in Week 8

·6 min read

It isn’t the flashiest week of Big Ten football games, but the marquee names are all suiting up once again after a bye week.

Finally, after being idle in Week 7, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State will take the field once again, though Michigan State, Iowa, Rutgers, and Nebraska are all off in Week 8. There are five games, and though there are no ranked-on-ranked matchups — those come next week — there’s still a little intrigue.

The most enticing game is likely the Wisconsin at Purdue game given that the Badgers aren’t ranked after starting the season that way, while the Boilermakers check in at No. 25 after upsetting No. 2 Iowa last week. Penn State hosts Illinois, Michigan hosts Northwestern, Ohio State goes to Indiana, and Maryland goes to Minnesota.

Here is what we’re predicting for each matchup in Week 8.

List

Ranking Big Ten quarterbacks by PFF passer grade through Week 7

Illinois (2-5) at No. 7 Penn State (5-1) - Noon EDT

Photo: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Knoop: Illinois just got shut out by Wisconsin last week, and the Fighting Illini offense remains stagnant. Brandon Peters nor Artur Sitkowski appears to be very competent at the quarterback position, and whoever lines up under center for Illinois on Saturday, they will have their hands full with the Penn State defense. Sean Clifford got injured in the Iowa game two weeks ago, we don’t know if he will be back yet, but the Nittany Lions should be fine regardless. If Clifford is unable to suit up, this is a great game for the backup to gain some experience. Penn State 31, Illinois 10

Isaiah Hole: The big question for Penn State is will Sean Clifford be healthy and return after having gotten a bye week? The defense is formidable, so Illinois — which has shown no proclivity towards playing offense this year — should be in for a long, hard day. The Illini defense has shown it can stay in games, but I just can’t see them staying in this one for very long, barring a two-week hangover for the Nittany Lions from the Iowa loss. The score depends heavily on Clifford’s return and being able to play close to 100%, which is uncertain at this point. Penn State 31, Illinois 3

Wisconsin (3-3) at No. 25 Purdue (4-2) - 3 p.m. EDT

Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Knoop: Never would I have thought that Purdue would be a better team than Wisconsin in 2021, but here we are. The Boilermakers just had the upset of the century when they defeated Iowa last weekend, and Purdue appears to have figured its quarterback room out — Aidan O’Connell played really well. The Badgers had their hands full with Army last week and Graham Mertz still looks like a liability at the quarterback position for Wisconsin. If the Badgers can’t stop David Bell and the Boilermakers, then Wisconsin is in for a long day. Purdue 24, Wisconsin 17

Isaiah Hole: Purdue appears to be legit thus far this season, save for a weird loss against an up-and-down Minnesota team. The Boilermakers have found something against Iowa, getting the big upset win. While Purdue was able to move the ball on the Hawkeyes, it will be a different animal going up against the Wisconsin defense. I don’t like the Badger offense, at all, but I think they find a way to get the job done — barely — thanks to just enough big plays by running backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Wisconsin 17, Purdue 14

Maryland (4-2) at Minnesota (4-2) - 3:30 p.m. EDT

Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Knoop: Maryland has lost two straight games and it has allowed the opposing team to score more than 50 points in both contests — its defense has been figured out. Minnesota isn’t a fantastic offensive team, but the Gophers have a sound defense — they only gave up 13 and 23 points to Purdue and Nebraska respectively. Taulia Tagovailoa has been very inefficient recently against better competition, and I’m not sure that he will get it figured out this weekend against the Gophers. I like Minnesota as long as Tanner Morgan plays smart football. Minnesota 30, Maryland 27

Isaiah Hole: I don’t know, man. Considering how Maryland has played since it entered Big Ten play, the Terps have not looked good. Minnesota has looked great in most games but has the loss to Bowling Green, which will remain troubling for the rest of the year. The Maryland offense, even without Dontay Demus, is still formidable, but so is the Gopher defense. It’s not the greatest Minnesota offense, but they’ll be able to take advantage of the worst defense in the league. Minnesota 28, Maryland 24

No. 5 Ohio State (5-1) at Indiana (2-4) - 7:30 p.m. EDT

Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Sevyn Banks (7) forces an incompletion for Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Ty Fryfogle (3) during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Trent Knoop: The Buckeyes offense has scored more than 50 points in three straight games and there is no reason to believe that it will slow down this weekend. The Hoosiers have a respectable defense, but they allow the big play too often, and the Indiana offense doesn’t create enough big plays of its own. If the Hoosiers have any shot in this one, they will need to create multiple turnovers and score points off of all of them — I don’t see that happening. Give me Ohio State big. Ohio State 49, Indiana 17

Isaiah Hole: Indiana has a tough defense, but Ohio State has literally the best offense in the country. The Hoosiers played Michigan State tough last week, but this is a different animal. Chances are that Michael Penix Jr. will not play and that Jack Tuttle will start again this week, which certainly spells doom for IU. Give me the Buckeyes, big. Ohio State 56, Indiana 12

Northwestern (3-3) at Michigan (6-0) - Noon EDT

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Trent Knoop: Michigan is coming off a needed bye week in hopes of getting healthier after some minor injuries and this couldn’t be a better game to come into off of a bye. While Northwestern took care of Rutgers last weekend, its offense continues to not score points. Running back Evan Hull has had a quietly-solid year for Northwestern, but he doesn’t have much help at the quarterback position, and I don’t see how NU scores enough to keep up with the Wolverines. Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins should torch the 117th ranked rushing defense that Northwestern will deploy on Saturday, so give me Michigan big. Michigan 38, Northwestern 14

Isaiah Hole: Northwestern got out of the Big Ten basement last week getting the win over Rutgers, but doesn’t mean this is a team on the rise. The Wildcats are still quite uneven on offense and defense, and Michigan appears to be focused, especially against lesser teams. Even with the MSU game a week away, I expect Michigan will make yet another statement after coming off of a bye week. Michigan 45, Northwestern 14

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