Short takes

• Few would argue it’s tougher to win the Big Ten East Division than the Big Ten West. But in terms of each division’s strength top-to-bottom, it’s worth noting that the West was 7-7 against the East last year in interdivision matchups.

• So far this season, the East leads the West 4-2 in interdivision play. This will be a big week for bragging rights, with five crossover matchups: Iowa at Indiana, Wisconsin at Maryland, Minnesota at Ohio State, Michigan State at Nebraska and Penn State at Northwestern.

• The Penn State- Northwestern clash seems like a particularly good litmus test for the West. Penn State is 7-2, but the Nittany Lions have feasted on a weaker schedule. Northwestern has victories over Stanford, Duke, the Gophers and Nebraska.

• The Gophers’ strong showing against Michigan lowered the Wolverines stature atop some national defensive statistical categories. Wisconsin now ranks first nationally in scoring defense (11.0), with Michigan second (11.4). Michigan dropped from first to second in total defense (241.9), with Wisconsin third (267.1).

• Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, a former walk-on, leads the nation in sacks per game (1.6) and tackles for a loss (2.1), and ranks third in forced fumbles (0.5).

Joe Christensen