UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. - Penn State has played itself out of the running in the Big Ten East division, but Wisconsin still holds out a glimmer of hope to come out on top in the West. The Badgers will try to keep their chances alive for a trip to the conference title game when they visit the 20th-ranked Nittany Lions on Saturday in the first meeting between the teams since the dramatic 2016 Big Ten championship.
TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Penn State -9
Wisconsin picked up a 31-17 win over Rutgers last week to stay within one game of Northwestern in the West, although the Wildcats own the tiebreaker by virtue of a win over the Badgers the previous Saturday and Wisconsin has another challenging road game at Purdue next weekend. "I think every game is a must-win at this point," Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards told reporters. "We're at the point of the year where it's November football. You have to play your best at this time to make things happen down the road. We're definitely going to need to be at our best." Penn State was far from its best in an ugly 42-7 loss at Michigan last Saturday, a third loss in the last five games for a team that has not come close to living up to preseason hype. "Our standard and our expectation is to win every game we play," coach James Franklin told reporters. "We have not done that, for a number of reasons. You can list them all out, but at the end of the day, we have not played up to the standard that we have."
ABOUT WISCONSIN (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten)
The Badgers are preparing to be without starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook for the second time in three weeks due to a head injury. Sophomore Jack Coan filled in for the 31-17 loss to Northwestern and threw for 158 yards and a touchdown. Star running back Jonathan Taylor, who had 208 yards in the win over Rutgers, was held to a season-low 46 yards on 11 carries when playing behind Coan two weeks ago.
ABOUT PENN STATE (6-3, 3-3)
Trace McSorley showed the effects of a knee injury suffered two weeks ago when he was just 5-of-13 passing for 83 yards while compiling minus-6 yards on the ground against Michigan. The senior star has completed 47.3 percent of his passes over the last three weeks while tossing three interceptions and only one TD. Leading receiver KJ Hamler (517 yards, five TDs) was held to one catch versus the Wolverines while junior Juwan Johnson (21 catches, 293 yards) did not make the trip due to a lower body injury.
1. McSorley threw for 384 yards and four TDs in the 38-31 win over Wisconsin in the 2016 matchup in the Big Ten title game.
2. Taylor leads the Big Ten in rushing by a wide margin with 1,363 yards. Nittany Lions RB Miles Sanders ranks fourth (848).
3. Penn State has won five of the last six meetings overall and three in a row at home.
PREDICTION: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 20
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