But Northwestern has made 19 interceptions in its past seven games dating to last season. If Braxton Miller gets careless with the ball, the Wildcats will be ready to pounce, and so will their fans.
Big Ten Short Takes
• Everyone knew Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis was good, but he looked Eric Decker-like against Ohio State, with 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. He did all that, despite being shadowed by Ohio State All-America cornerback Bradley Roby.
On the other side of the ball, Badgers linebacker Chris Borland was all over the field, making 16 tackles in the losing effort. No team will enjoy playing the Badgers the rest of the way.
• Gophers fans would feel better about last week’s 23-7 loss, if Iowa follows through with another victory over Michigan State. Last year, Iowa won a defensive struggle in East Lansing 19-16 in double overtime. Iowa trailed 13-6 until Mark Weisman ran for a touchdown with 55 seconds left, forcing OT, and Mike Meyer hit two more field goals to win it.
• Illinois still looks like the most improved team in the conference. After going 2-10 in Tim Beckman’s first year, the Illini are 3-1 heading into Big Ten play.
Illinois has enough playmakers to potentially give Nebraska’s porous defense another test Saturday in Lincoln. Washington rolled up 615 yards against the Illini three weeks ago, but the young defense made strides of late, holding Miami (Ohio) to 250 yards last week.
BIG TEN POWER POLL
1. Ohio State (5-0, 1-0): Back at full strength against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes looked capable of running the table.
2. Northwestern (4-0): The Wildcats have another test next week, at Wisconsin, before the Gophers visit Oct. 19.
3. Michigan (4-0): The Wolverines’ 17-game home winning streak is the longest of any BCS conference school.
4. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1): Melvin Gordon said his left knee is fine and that he will be ready for Northwestern next week.
5. Michigan State (3-1): Spartans fans hope the week off helped their team sort out its quarterback mess.
6. Nebraska (3-1): With Taylor Martinez still hobbled, Tommie Armstrong Jr. will start, and Ron Kellogg likely will play.
7. Penn State (3-1): After playing Indiana on Saturday, the Nittany Lions face Michigan and Ohio State.
8. Iowa (4-1, 1-0): The doubts are starting to subside for redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock.