The Big Ten championship should come down to a two-team race Michigan versus the winner of the Ohio State-Illinois game. In addition, other important contests will determine where teams will end up in the bowl picture.

No. 12 Illinois (5-1 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) at Ohio State (4-2, 6-3), Noon, ESPN: In a game that has huge conference championship implications, the 12th-ranked Fighting Illini travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Ohio State still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten, and could take the conference championship with wins over Illinois and Michigan.

The Illini also have a chance at winning the Big Ten, but they need help. Currently, they would lose the first-place tiebreaker to Michigan because of a 45-20 loss on Sept. 29. But with an Illinois victory Saturday and a Michigan loss, the Illini would take the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes are coming off a momentum-building 35-9 win over Purdue last Saturday, where quarterback Steve Bellisari played his best game of the year. The Buckeyes” defense was also strong, intercepting three passes and forcing two safeties.

Unlike Bellisari, Illinois” quarterback Kurt Kittner has been among the top passers in the nation this season and leads the Big Ten in passing. The Fighting Illini come into Columbus having won five of their last seven games at The Horseshoe, but look for that trend to come to an end. Bellisari will come out firing as he did last week and lead the Buckeyes to victory, setting up a matchup with Michigan for the Big Ten title.

Ohio State 35, Illinois 24

Indiana (3-3, 3-5) at Penn State (2-4, 3-5), Noon: In a game that features two 3-5 teams, the losing team will be eliminated from bowl contention. Indiana has won two games in a row for the first time all season, with an impressive 56-21 romp over Northwestern and a 37-28 victory over thenno. 23 Michigan State.

Penn State is the hotter of the two teams, however. The Nittany Lions have won three of their last four, with their only loss coming to No. 12 Illinois last week on an Illini score with less than two minutes to go.

The quarterback situation at Penn State is like night and day. Sophomore Zack Mills has been playing well, completing 23 of 33 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns against Southern Mississippi two weeks ago.

On the other hand, backup Matt Senneca was 6-for-23 for 52 yards in Mills” relief on Saturday, throwing three interceptions in the process.

Still riding the high from coach Joe Paterno”s breaking of Bear Bryant”s record, Penn State should pull off the victory at home.

Penn State 27, Indiana 24

Michigan State (3-3, 5-3) at Purdue (3-3, 5-3), Noon, ESPN2: Purdue has been struggling as of late, after jumping out to a 4-0 start to the season. Since then, the Boilermakers are 1-3. In its five wins, Purdue is averaging over 28 points per game compared to just over 10 in their three losses.

Despite its loss to Indiana last Saturday, Michigan State has been playing well lately. Its offense has been led by running back T.J. Duckett, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry this season. Duckett rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against Indiana and 212 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries against Michigan.

The Michigan State defense should be able to hold off the Boilermakers” struggling offense, and look for Duckett to continue his recent success on the ground.

Michigan State 28, Purdue 14

Minnesota (1-5, 3-6) at Iowa (3-4, 5-4), 1 p.m.: For the second straight week, Minnesota will have to face an offense that will feature two very different quarterbacks.

After Michigan surprised the Golden Gophers by playing Jermaine Gonzales at the quarterback position as a change of pace from John Navarre, the Hawkeyes will attempt to do the same with starter Kyle McCann and backup Brad Banks.

With a win, Iowa would become bowl eligible for the first time since 1997. The Hawkeyes put themselves in position for postseason play last week when they trounced Northwestern 59-16 on the road.

Minnesota will attempt to counter Iowa”s attack with running back Tellis Redmon and wide receiver Ron Johnson, but it”s unlikely that the Golden Gophers will be able to do much in Iowa City.

Iowa 41, Minnesota 17

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