For the first time this season, the Michigan Wolverines have cracked the top 10 after starting the season 5-0 and beating a highly thought of Wisconsin Badgers team. It was the first win for Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium in 20 years and it caught the eye of many analysts across the country questioning if Jim Harbaugh can put his team in a position to make a run at the Big Ten Championship.
There is still plenty of season left to play and more top Big Ten opponents in the way including Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State to name a few. All three of those teams are ranked in the top 15 this week. However, we should get some clarity as to who the real contenders in the conference are this week. Let’s go through a busy schedule of Big Ten and college football action in Week 6.
No. 9 Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Date & Time: Saturday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ABC
- Location: Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska
- Weather: 71 degrees and clear
- Betting Line: Michigan -3.0, O/U: 52
Before the season, this was a game circled on the schedule for many people as two head coaches who were on the hot seat would be facing off. Instead, Harbaugh has coached this team into a 5-0 start and staved off much of that pressure to this point. Meanwhile, Scott Frost at Nebraska continues to be one of the most scrutinized coaches in the country with his team going 3-3 in their first six games.
However, the Huskers have quietly been having a decent season and have nearly played upset twice this season. They only lost by a touchdown to one of the oldest rivals in No. 3 Oklahoma a couple of weeks back. The very next week, they went to overtime against No. 20 Michigan State before falling on a game-winning field goal.
By all means, this is a game the Wolverines should win, but Nebraska has the talent to keep things interesting if Michigan comes in slow on the road. Adrian Martinez is the exact kind of quarterback that can dismantle the Mike Macdonald defense. Expect plenty of quarterback runs and RPO’s similar to what Rutgers did to give the Wolverines fits a few weeks back. Finding a way to contain Martinez will be one of the toughest tasks Michigan has faced in the early parts of this season.
No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners vs No. 21 Texas Longhorns
- Date & Time: Saturday, Oct. 9, noon ET
- Channel: ABC
- Location: Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas
- Weather: 87 degrees and mostly sunny
- Betting Line: Oklahoma -3.0, O/U: 63.5
The Red River Rivalry never seems to disappoint and this may be one of the last times it happens as a Big 12 battle instead of an SEC one. Oklahoma may be 5-0, but they are not a dominant 5-0. They’ve won four of their five games by a touchdown or less and have yet to play a top 25 opponent this season. This could be a massive get-right game for former Heisman hopeful Spencer Rattler and company, or it could be a continuation of their already unimpressive start.
Texas comes in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after losing five of their last six in this rivalry. They’re also on the wrong end of early-season woes after getting trounced at Arkansas earlier this season. It always feels like this Texas team is trying to claw back into relevancy and nothing is different this season with Steve Sarkisian taking over.
Other notable games in the Noon slate: Maryland @ No. 7 Ohio State, No. 11 Michigan State @ Rutgers, No. 13 Arkansas @ No. 17 Ole Miss.
No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes
- Date & Time: Saturday, Oct. 9, 4 p.m. ET
- Channel: Fox
- Location: Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa
- Weather: 81 degrees and mostly sunny
- Betting Line: Iowa -2.5, O/U: 41.5
This game is the most highly anticipated game in the Big Ten so far this season. Both teams have well-outperformed expectations with early wins against top 25 opponents. Iowa boasts one of the most potent defenses in the country, allowing just 11.6 points per game, doing so by halting the run and giving up just 87 rushing yards per game. Penn State’s defense is just as intact allowing only 12.0 points per contest. You can see why the over/under is set at just 41.5.
There is a lot on the line here. The Big Ten is searching for a new top dog as Ohio State fumbled early this season. These two teams have built a stronger resume than the two other undefeated teams in the conference at this point (Michigan and Michigan State). Whoever comes out on top may be seen as the new favorite to win the conference and be the Big Ten’s representative in the college football playoff, at least for the time being. There is a lot at stake here for both sides and for the conference as a whole.
Other notable games in the afternoon/evening slate: No. 2 Georgia @ No. 18 Auburn 3:30 ET , Boise State @ No. 10 BYU 3:30 ET, No. 14 Notre Dame @ Virginia Tech 7:30 ET, No. 1 Alabama @ Texas A&M 8:00 ET.