Undefeated seasons, win streaks will end when Ohio State faces Northwestern

BY MATT CABEL | OCTOBER 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Saturday night’s prime-time matchup in Evanston, Ill., that will pit Ohio State against Northwestern will be more than just a potential preview of the Big Ten championship. Undefeated records and long winning streaks will also be on the line for the two teams.

The Buckeyes enter the game with the longest winning streak in the nation at 17 games, while the Wildcats have won the last seven games, good enough for the fourth-longest active streak in college football.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said that playing a team such as Northwestern is “tough” only a week after playing Wisconsin, particularly when the Wildcats had a bye week.

“Some people say bye weeks don’t matter; you’ll never hear me say that,” Meyer said during Ohio State’s press conference. “Bye weeks are very important. Matter of fact, if I was scheduling, I’d almost try to put it where, you know, against a team that you deal with injury and fatigue the middle of the season and then obviously back-to-back opponents, especially when you play against a team like Wisconsin, a physical game.”

Battle for the Little Brown Jug returns to Ann Arbor

For the second week in a row, Minnesota will play for a trophy. This week, the Gophers will battle for the 100th iteration of the Little Brown Jug, a tradition that started when the Wolverines left the jug behind after a tie game in 1903.

The Gophers fell to Iowa last weekend in a matchup for the Floyd of Rosedale against Iowa, which they lost, 23-7.

“We go through all the trophy games: the importance, the history, and so forth,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said during the Big Ten teleconference. “I actually have kind of an old Little Brown Jug sitting here. There are [reminders] of it all over the building. Our kids understand that.”

Despite his team having a 68-22-3 historic advantage in the rivalry, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke knows that his matchup with Minnesota won’t be easy, especially after his team has had difficulties winning against Akron and Connecticut in its last two games.

“This is going to be a big test,” Hoke said during the teleconference. “Jerry Kill and Minnesota are a team that’s very physical, and we have to try to match their physicality and play our best football of the year.”

Hoke doesn’t believe he has to help quarterback Devin Gardner move on from mistakes that he may make during games. Over the course of four games, Gardner has thrown 8 interceptions to 7 touchdowns, but Hoke still has confidence in his quarterback.

“Devin is a guy who has a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in him,” Hoke said. “Some of the miscues we’ve had have been more of making sure our fundamentals are what they need to be on every snap, and that’s part of being consistent.”

Taylor Martinez may be sidelined for Big Ten opener

It’s been a long season for Nebraska. There have been head coach controversies, blown wins, and now, quarterback Taylor Martinez may miss the Big Ten opener with a turf-toe injury suffered earlier in the season. It caused him to miss Sept. 21’s matchup against South Dakota State.

Head coach Bo Pelini said at his press conference Monday that Martinez did not practice during the team’s bye week, or on Sunday, working on individual things, particularly with his throwing, saying that he to “get him healed up.” “I think he’s getting closer to being 100 percent,” Pelini said. “As of yesterday, he wasn’t quite 100 percent. I think he’s getting better, and we’ll have to see as the week progresses.”

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