Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor

Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports

Chen: What To Watch For In Week 6 In Big Ten

Jonathan Taylor and Justin Fields are becoming household names.

Mike Chen
October 04, 2019 - 2:31 pm

(670 The Score) Let's break down the most important Big Ten storylines of the week and what awaits this weekend.

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Start the campaigns

The Big Ten's best players are becoming household names, and don’t be surprised to see Heisman campaigns for Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Although Taylor had a pedestrian performance -- by his standards -- against Northwestern with 119 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, he still leads the country in scoring and is third in total yards and seventh in rushing yards.

Fields has been just as impressive, registering 16 touchdowns through the air and seven on the ground. He hasn't thrown an interception in 116 passing attempts and ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency, third in QBR while leading the third-ranked scoring offense in the country. Taylor and Fields have a great chance to be Heisman Trophy candidates and represent the conference in New York at the Downtown Athletic Club later in the year. No Big Ten player has won the Heisman Trophy since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. 

Ashes in Piscataway

Rutgers fired coach Chris Ash and offensive coordinator John McNulty last week and elevated Nunzio Campanile from tight ends coach to interim head coach. Candidates to replace Ash include former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead and former Tennessee coach Butch Jones.

Although Rutgers is unlikely to find a home run hire, the school has shown in the past that it can be highly competitive, as it was previously under Schiano.

Wildcats have work to do

Northwestern played Wisconsin tough and held Taylor in check in a 24-15 loss last Saturday. The Wildcats were undone by turnovers, as two of their three resulted in touchdowns for the Badgers. 

This week, Northwestern visits Nebraska, which presents a different challenge in quarterback Adrian Martinez. The Wildcats are 1-3 this season, the same mark that they had through four games in 2016 and 2018. They rebounded to make bowls in those two years. If they're to do so again, this weekend will be a key to their turnaround.

Illini look to snap skid

On a two-game losing streak, Illinois has a chance to get back in the win column at Minnesota (4-0) on Saturday. The Illini can win this game, but to do so, they'll need to in better physical condition after they failed to come through late in their two losses. Coach Lovie Smith would really love to see his team get back to winning this weekend, because tough matchups against Michigan and Wisconsin loom.

Mike Chen is a producer at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @mfc2123.