Big Ten preview: Wisconsin hopes to knock off Iowa

Also, Michigan State and Northwestern could put on an aerial display.

by Marco LaNave

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said he âÄúdid something really smartâÄù when he put a tattoo of a Hawkeye on his calf when he was 19 years old. âÄúIt seemed like a great idea when I was 19,âÄù said Bielema, who was a four-year letter winner at nose guard and defensive end for Iowa from 1989 to 1992 . Bielema will have to hide his legâÄôs favoritism when No. 11 Iowa (2-0 Big Ten, 6-0 overall) travels to Wisconsin (2-1, 5-1) for the BadgersâÄô homecoming game . Iowa is the Big TenâÄôs only remaining undefeated team and has won their first six games for the first time since 1985 . The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in pass defense and have the best turnover margin , second in the country in interceptions . The Badgers will counter with the Big TenâÄôs best rushing offense , led by sophomore running back John Clay , who leads the Big Ten in rushing yards and touchdowns . Only three teams other than Wisconsin have won a game at Camp Randall since the start of the 2004 season âÄî the same year that the Heartland Trophy became the prize for the winner of the Iowa-Wisconsin game. With a win in 2005, the Hawkeyes had been the only victorious visitors to Madison before Ohio State and Penn State won on back-to-back Saturdays last season . In addition to sorting out the top of the Big Ten standings, Saturday will break the all-time tie in the Iowa-Wisconsin series. Each team has won 41 of the 84 games, and they have tied twice. Northwestern at Michigan State Passing offenses will clash for homecoming at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. Michigan State (2-1, 3-3) and Northwestern (1-1, 4-2) rank first and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in passing offense. The Spartans lead the conference in passing efficiency, and their two quarterbacks âÄî sophomores Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol âÄî are both in the top four in the Big Ten. Cousins and Nichol have each played in all six games , but Nichol made his first start last week at Illinois . Wildcats senior quarterback Mike Kafka is second in the Big Ten in passing yards and total offense . Both teams have also had pass-rushing success. Their defenses each have 18 sacks, which tie them with Ohio State for second in the conference behind Penn State. However, the Spartans have allowed the fewest sacks (six) in the Big Ten, while Northwestern has allowed the third most (14). No. 7 Ohio State at Purdue Turnovers have made a big difference for Ohio State (3-0, 5-1) and Purdue (0-2, 1-5). The Buckeyes have the Big TenâÄôs third best turnover margin with a +0.83 average per game, while the Boilermakers are last in the conference with a -1.5 margin per game . Ohio State seeks to tie a Big Ten record with its 17th straight conference road win . Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel is 13-0 against head coaches in their first year at a school , which is the case for PurdueâÄôs Danny Hope . The Boilermakers are second in the conference in passing offense and are led by the Big TenâÄôs leading passer in senior quarterback Joey Elliott . The Buckeyes are third in the Big Ten against the pass but are second (11th nationally) in total defense. One week after holding Big Ten leading rusher John Clay to 59 yards on 20 carries , the Buckeyes will face sophomore running back Ralph Bolden , who is second in the Big Ten in rushing. Illinois at Indiana The two worst teams in the Big Ten in scoring offense, pass efficiency and third-down conversions will meet on IndianaâÄôs homecoming . One year after leading the conference in pass offense , Illinois (0-3, 1-4) ranks second-to-last and is last in passing efficiency . The Illini tried to shake things up by benching senior quarterback Juice Williams against Michigan State last Saturday, but junior Eddie McGee completed just two of 11 passes against the Spartans. Williams replaced him in the third quarter and completed seven of 17 passes for 109 yards . Williams, who scored four touchdowns against the Hoosiers last year , appeared alongside McGee on the depth chart released Monday . Williams needs two starts to have the most career starts by an Illinois quarterback . Indiana (0-2, 3-3) has lost its last three games after a 3-0 start . Hoosiers senior Ray Fisher leads the Big Ten in kickoff return average (34.8 yards per return), but Illinois âÄî although making the fewest kickoffs âÄî is second in kickoff coverage, with opponents starting, on average, at their own 26-yard line off of kickoffs. Delaware State at Michigan Rich Rodriguez is 0-6 in October as the head coach at Michigan (1-2, 4-2). He will try to break that streak when the Wolverines host Football Championship Subdivision opponent Delaware State . The Hornets (1-3) have never faced Michigan and were picked to finish seventh out of nine teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference before the season. Delaware State will play before the biggest crowd in its history at Michigan Stadium . The Hornets have never played in front of more than 30,000 people , and Michigan has drawn at least 100,000 to the Big House for 219 consecutive home games .