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College Football Schedule 2012: Big Ten division races heat up; Notre Dame hosts Stanford

Northwestern and Michigan State need wins to keep pace in Big Ten Legends Division. The Fighting Irish host a tough Stanford team in their quest to stay unbeaten.

Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

Big Ten conference play is in full swing as the Northwestern Wildcats try to bounce back from a loss at Penn State last week to keep pace with the top of the Legend Division. Northwestern remains on the road this week when the travel to face the Minnesota Gophers on Saturday.

The Michigan State Spartans have a chance to re-establish themselves as a favorite in the Legends Division when they host Iowa. The Spartans averted near disaster at Indiana last week when they rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Hoosiers, 31-27. Iowa currently shares the Legends lead with Michigan at 1-0 in conference play. The Wolverines expect to remain undefeated in conference play when they host Illinois.

In the Leaders Division, Purdue hosts Wisconsin in a key matchup between the two teams favored to fight for a spot in the Big Ten Championship game with both Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the title game.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish return to their normal home field advantage after destroying Miami (FL) at Soldier Field last Saturday night. This week they face a stiff test from the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. The Cardinal ride a three-game winning streak against the Irish into Saturday's game.

Northwestern Wildcats at Minesota Golden Gophers (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN2)

Iowa Hawkeyes at Michigan State Spartans (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN)

Wisconsin Badgers at Purdue Boilermakers (11:00 a.m. CT, Big Ten Network)

Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Wolverines (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC/ESPN)

Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2:30 p.m. CT, NBC)