College football is still a few months away from kicking off, but that hasn’t stopped me from scouting out some fantastic matchups throughout the season. Today I’m joined by Evan Hartmann to go over the best games that the Big Ten has to offer this upcoming season. He took the even number games, I took the odds, let us know what we got right and inevitably what we got wrong.
10: Michigan @ Michigan State (Week 8)
This rivalry used to be one of the best not only in the Big Ten, but all of college football. But it seems as if every year, one team is very good and the other one is having a down year. And for that reason, the rivalry hasn’t been the same in years and years. This year Michigan State won’t be as good as they used to be, but this is a game to keep the rivalry alive. I’m not saying Michigan State has a great chance of beating the Wolverines this year. But even making this a close, smash-mouth, traditional Big Ten football game would be huge for Sparty. There will be a lot of bad blood in this game after the tunnel incident last season between the two teams so we should see some fire under both of these teams.
9: Wisconsin @ Minnesota (Week 13)
The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe has the potential to be much higher stakes than in years past. Since the game is played in the very last week of the season, this game could easily mean the difference between a Big Ten Championship berth or being sent to the Korean Barbeque Bowl for Wisconsin. The crowd will no doubt be fired up for a very cold day of trench warfare on the football field. The Gophers look to win their third straight and turn the tide of the Rivalry for the time being.
8: Purdue @ Michigan (Week 10)
The rematch of the 2022 Big Ten championship game showed Purdue give some life but Michigan prevailed in the long run. Purdue will be under a new head coach, Ryan Walters, who is a more defensive minded coach and the Boilermakers could really succeed under this. But this game will be very interesting for Purdue with Aidan O’Connell gone to the NFL Draft.
7: Wisconsin @ Illinois (Week 8)
Bret Bielema will look to beat his former team in back to back seasons when the Badgers come into town in week eight. After a very successful year two under Bielema, Illinois brought back lots of offensive production. Although they did lose their star running back, Chase Brown, to the NFL. Illinois would definitely love to put a major wrench in Wisconsin’s plans for a Big Ten Championship run.
6: Michigan @ Maryland (Week 12)
This seems to be one of the biggest trap games in college football this year, let alone in the Big Ten. The Wolverines will most likely be 10-0 heading into this game and already looking ahead to the most anticipated game of their season versus the Buckeyes of Ohio State University. This game against the Terrapins could very well be overlooked by the Wolverines. Sleepwalking into College Park could brew up some real trouble for Michigan. This will be one to watch for everyone in the Big Ten as the race for first place in the division comes down to the wire.
5: Iowa @ Wisconsin (Week 7)
The two favorites to win the Big Ten west this season clash in Camp Randall in week seven. This game will be a bloodbath in the trenches, a true big ten style football game. Iowa has had historical defenses the last several years, their offense which might as well be a bunch of scarecrows standing around has let them down time and time again. If they can finally get like 30 points per game they could be a real contender to win the conference.
4: Ohio State @ Wisconsin (Week 9)
This is a big game circled on the calendar of a lot of Badgers, including new head coach Luke Fickell. Coach Fickell is coaching against his former team in the Buckeyes. But this game is big for a lot more people on the Wisconsin side. The Badgers are in the very early stages of a rebuild, new coach plus a new quarterback (6th year overall) and even just competing with Ohio State this game would be a huge step. It also helps that it’s at Camp Randall Stadium as well.
3: Michigan @ Penn State (Week 11)
The Michigan Wolverines face their real first test of the season in week 11, how insane is that. Nonetheless, they walk into a very hostile environment when they take on the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. The Penn State defense is very strong, and I think the Michigan rush attack vs the Penn State front seven will be the story in this game. I truly believe this game could swing both ways but this is sure to be a fun one.
2: Penn State @ Ohio State (Week 8)
Another monumental game for both teams in this one. Penn State has a new quarterback, Drew Allar, coming in and they are counting on him to really take them to the next level. This game between Ohio State and Penn State has been a newly founded rivalry in the past ten years. Ohio State has dominated in recent years as they have won 10 of the last 11 matchups and currently are one a six game win streak as well. Getting a win against either Ohio State or Michigan is a need to have a chance at winning the Big Ten East, going to the Horseshoe and coming out with a win isn’t going to be easy. But it could be a new day in State College and October 21st will be a big stepping stone.
1: Ohio State @ Michigan (Week 13)
Anything else being first would be a crime since this is the best rivalry in all of sports. Following a 20 year stretch of dominance from the Buckeyes, Michigan has re-established themselves as an elite team and this will no doubt be a dogfight. This game will likely be a top five matchup with a spot in the Big Ten Championship on the line, it just doesn’t get better than this. It’s “The Game” for a reason.