Oct 27, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson (9) against the Purdue Boilermakers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers defeated the Boilermakers 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Football Preview: Thursday Night Opener


Nov 17, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Big Ten Football Preview: Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Cameron Coffman (2) prepares to pass the ball during the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana State at Indiana

When: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network (alt.)

Line: Indiana -30.5

Reasons to watch: Indiana’s quarterback competition has largely flown under the radar, but IU head coach Kevin Wilson has had a close, three-man race throughout the offseason. Wilson had some fun with the competition, bringing Cameron Coffman, Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson out to throw simultaneous first pitches at a Hoosier baseball game this spring.

IU has its best lineup since the 2007 season, and experts have taken notice. The Hoosiers appear in numerous bowl projections. The biggest question mark lingering over this team is what strides it made defensively. IU had one of the most porous defenses among BCS conference teams a season ago.

If the Hoosiers failed to shore up their defensive inadequacies, Indiana State’s senior running back Shakir Bell can do some damage.

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UNLV at Minnesota

When: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network

Line: Minnesota -17


Reason to watch: Last year’s season opening encounter pitting the Golden Gophers against the Rebels resulted in three overtimes. UNLV brings what should be an improved team into TCF Bank Stadium, with a talented one-two offensive punch of Nick Sherry and Tim Cornett.

Jerry Kill did an admirable job getting Minnesota to bowl eligibility in his second year, but surpassing the six-win barrier is the program’s milestone for success this season. Minnesota has the talent to outclass UNLV in all facets of the game, but needs to do something that is very much un-Gopher-like: it must dictate tempo immediately and leave no doubt.

Tags: Football Indiana Hoosiers Indiana State Sycamores Minnesota Golden Gophers UNLV Rebels

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