Dienhart: Ranking every 2013 Big Ten game

Dienhart: Ranking every 2013 Big Ten game

I know your time is precious in the fall. Between driving to soccer games, raking leaves, making cider and carving pumpkins, your schedule is packed. That means finding spare time to watch TV is difficult. No worries. I have ranked every game involving a Big Ten team for the 2013 season. As you can see, not all matchups are created equally.

1. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30: How great could the clash be between Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller? Heck, the winner of this battle could end up being the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Each is a classic dual-threat quarterback capable of making a big play at any time.

2. Nebraska at Michigan, Nov. 9: Can’t wait for the battle between Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Beck looks to have the top offense in the Big Ten, a unit that teems with experience and talent. Mattison’s group keeps improving.

3. Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7: The Fighting Irish won last year, 13-6, ending the Wolverines’ three-game winning skein in the series. The last four meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less. Keep the Maalox handy.

4. Ohio State at Northwestern, Oct. 5: This could be one of the best quarterback battles all season, with Braxton Miller taking on NU’s dynamic duo. This will be the biggest game in Evanston in … well, a long time.

5. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Sept. 28: The Ohio State offense and Wisconsin defense should be among the best in the Big Ten among their respective units. So, it will be interesting to watch Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman match Xs and Os with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, good buddies and Cal Lutheran alums.

6. Michigan at Michigan State, Nov. 2: Before losing, 12-10, last year in Ann Arbor, Michigan State had won four in a row in this oh-so-heated rivalry. With apologies to every other rivalry, this may be the best. Nothing like in-state hatred.

7. Northwestern at Nebraska, Nov. 2: The last time the Wildcats played in Lincoln, Kain Colter came off the bench to replace an injured Dan Persa and promptly led unranked Northwestern to a shocking 28-25 triumph over No. 10 Nebraska. Will this be a de facto Legends Division title game?

8. UCLA at Nebraska, Sept. 14: Last year’s trip to La-La Land was a nightmare for Nebraska. The Huskers allowed 653 yards in a 36-30 loss in the venerable Rose Bowl. It was the first of three horrible performances for the Husker defense (at Ohio State; Big Ten title game). Oh, and these Bruins will be better than last year’s team.

9. Michigan at Northwestern, Nov. 16: Devin Gardner and Northwestern’s Kain Colter could hook up for some excitement in what could be an unofficial Legends Division title game.

10. Northwestern at Wisconsin, Oct. 12: Since Barry Alvarez arrived in Madison in 1990, the Wildcats are 8-9 vs. Wisconsin. But NU is 4-3 vs. the Badgers in the last seven meetings. Burr (Wildcats), meet saddle (Badgers).

11. Michigan at Penn State, Oct. 12: If Penn State remains healthy, it will have a shot to win most of the games on its schedule. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Nittany Lions beat Michigan when the Wolverines visit State College. The teams haven’t met since 2010.

12. Michigan State at Nebraska, Nov. 16: Who’s your daddy, Spartans? Oh, you know. Nebraska has won all seven meetings vs. Michigan State—including both meetings as Big Ten foes.

13. Nebraska at Penn State, Nov. 23: Going to Penn State will be tough for Nebraska, but the Nittany Lions may be worn down and beaten up by then. Still, Penn State figures to be a tough out. The Huskers’ last trip to Penn State came right after the Sandusky scandal broke in 2011. It was the first game of the post-Joe Paterno era and capped the worst week in PSU annals. Oh, the Huskers won, 17-14.

14. Penn State at Ohio State, Oct. 26: Points may be difficult to come by for the Nittany Lions if the quarterback position isn’t solidified by this time in the season. Either way, scoring will be difficult for the Nittany Lions.

15. Michigan State at Notre Dame, Sept.21: Michigan State last won in South Bend in 2007, taking a 31-14 decision. MSU’s chances figure to be enhanced with Irish QB Everett Golson declared academically ineligible.

16. Michigan State at Northwestern, Nov. 23: Lots of interesting matchups to watch, including the Spartan linebackers vs. NU running back Venric Mark—and shifty quarterback Kain Colter.

17. Wisconsin at Arizona State, Sept. 14: Wisconsin’s rebuilt secondary and new 3-4 defensive scheme will be put to the test during a trip to Tempe. Todd Graham’s Sun Devils’ play a high-flying brand of offense that operates at a quick pace. The Badgers better be in shape—and ready.

18. Penn State at Wisconsin, Nov. 30: Penn State may be trying to cap another strong season when it visits Leaders Division power Wisconsin in the season finale. The Nittany Lions topped the Badgers last season in the finale, taking a thrilling 24-21 overtime decision in State College.

19. Michigan at Iowa, Nov. 23: Iowa beat Michigan three times in a row before falling last season in Ann Arbor, 42-17. So, the Hawkeyes don’t fear the Wolverines. In fact, Iowa is 3-1 vs. Michigan in the last four meetings in Iowa City.

20. BYU at Wisconsin, Nov. 9: Wisconsin lost at home, 28-3, to BYU in 1980 in the only meeting between the teams. New Badgers coach Gary Andersen knows BYU, having coached Utah State and been an assistant at Utah.

21. Iowa at Nebraska, Nov. 29: The Huskers have won five in succession in the series. The Hawkeyes haven’t scored more than 13 points in any of those five games. In fact, Nebraska has outscored Iowa, 159-41, during the five-game winning skein, winning by an average score of 32-8.

22. Ohio State at Cal, Sept. 14: The Golden Bears almost won in Columbus last season, as the Buckeyes didn’t score the game-winning touchdown until less than four minutes remained in a 35-28 victory. And the Bears have a new dynamic coach in Sonny Dykes, whose high-flying offense may pose issues for a retooled OSU front seven.

23. Wisconsin at Iowa, Nov. 2: When the Big Ten went to divisions in 2011, one casualty was the Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry, as each was put in opposite divisions. Well, the rivals will meet for the first time since 2010. The Iowa-Wisconsin series is 42-42-2.

24. Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 14: Iowa State has been a pain in Iowa’s keister, winning the last two meetings behind vastly underrated coach Paul Rhoads. In fact, Kirk Ferentz is just 6-8 vs. the Cyclones. This has to stop if the Hawkeyes want to climb out of last year’s 4-8 funk that has some doubting the direction of the program. Iowa hasn’t lost three in a row to Iowa State since dropping five in a succession from 1998-2002.

25. Missouri at Indiana, Sept.21: This is the lone SEC-Big Ten matchup. Sad. The schools last played in 1992, with Indiana taking a 20-10 decision to end an eight-year run of consecutive meetings that began in 1985 and saw the Hoosiers go 6-0-2 vs. the Tigers. MU hasn’t won in Bloomington since 1953, going 1-4.

26. Ohio State at Purdue, Nov. 2: The Boilermakers have had a weird whammy on the Buckeyes, winning the last two meetings in West Lafayette and three of the last four in Ross-Ade Stadium. The hex nearly continued last season, but Purdue blew a late eight-point lead in Columbus before falling in overtime, 29-22.

27. Minnesota at Northwestern, Oct. 19: Northwestern has had the upper hand on Minnesota of late, winning three in a row and five of the last six. In fact, the Wildcats have taken 10 of the last 15 encounters.

28. Wisconsin at Minnesota, Nov. 23: Minnesota has lost nine in a row to Wisconsin and is just 4-18 vs. the Badgers since 1991 in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

29. Iowa at Minnesota, Sept. 28: The Hawkeyes won last year’s meeting in Iowa City, 31-13, and have won four of last six in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. But the Golden Gophers won the two previous meetings (both in Minnesota) prior to 2012 and have won three of the last four in Minneapolis.

30. Minnesota at Michigan State, Nov. 30: Michigan State has won three in a row vs. Minnesota. Before that, the Golden Gophers won three in succession vs. the Spartans. This is a key battle for Legends pecking order.

31. Michigan State at Iowa, Oct. 5

32. Northwestern at Iowa, Oct. 26

33. Michigan State at Illinois, Oct. 26

34. Northwestern at Illinois, Nov. 30

35. Purdue at Indiana, Nov. 30

36. Northwestern at Cal, Aug. 31

37. Wisconsin at Illinois, Oct. 19

38. Purdue at Michigan State, Oct. 19

39. Iowa at Purdue, Nov. 9

40. Penn State at Minnesota, Nov. 9

41. Syracuse vs. Penn State at the Meadowlands, N.J. , Aug. 31

42. Notre Dame at Purdue, Sept. 14

43. Illinois at Nebraska, Oct. 5

44. Purdue at Cincinnati, Aug. 31

45. Minnesota at Michigan, Oct. 5

46. Syracuse at Northwestern, Sept. 7

47. Penn State at Indiana, Oct. 5

48. USF at Michigan State, Sept. 7

49. Cincinnati at Illinois, Sept. 7

50. Navy at Indiana, Sept. 7

51. San Diego State at Ohio State, Sept. 7

52. Washington vs. Illinois at Chicago, Sept. 14

53. Minnesota at Indiana, Nov. 2

54. UCF at Penn State, Sept. 14

55. Purdue at Wisconsin, Sept.21

56. Illinois at Penn State, Nov. 2

57. Michigan at UConn, Sept.21

58. Indiana at Michigan State, Oct. 12

59. San Jose State at Minnesota, Sept.21

60. Illinois at Indiana, Nov. 9

61. Northern Illinois at Purdue, Sept. 28

62. Miami (Ohio) at Illinois, Sept. 28

63. Illinois at Purdue, Nov. 23

64. Nebraska at Minnesota, Oct. 26

65. Western Michigan at Iowa, Sept.21

66. Indiana at Michigan, Oct. 19

67. Purdue at Penn State, Nov. 16

68. Iowa at Ohio State, Oct. 19

69. Nebraska at Purdue, Oct. 12

70. Indiana at Ohio State, Nov. 23

71. Kent State at Penn State, Sept.21

72. UNLV at Minnesota, Aug. 31

73. Ohio State at Illinois, Nov. 16

74. Northern Illinois at Iowa, Aug. 31

75. Western Michigan at Michigan State, Aug. 31

76. Indiana at Wisconsin, Nov. 16

77. Central Michigan at Michigan, Aug. 31

78. Akron at Michigan, Sept. 14

79. Southern Miss at Nebraska, Sept. 7

80. Western Michigan at Northwestern, Sept. 14

81. Bowling Green at Indiana, Sept. 14

82. Southern Illinois at Illinois, Aug. 31

83. Minnesota at New Mexico State, Sept. 7

84. Indiana State at Indiana, Aug. 31

85. Maine at Northwestern, Sept.21

86. Indiana State at Purdue, Sept. 7

87. Wyoming at Nebraska, Aug. 31

88. Eastern Michigan at Penn State, Sept. 7

89. Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin, Sept. 7

90. Missouri State at Iowa, Sept. 7

91. Youngstown State at Michigan State, Sept. 14

92. Western Illinois at Minnesota, Sept. 14

93. UMass at Wisconsin, Aug. 31

94. South Dakota State at Nebraska, Sept.21

95. Buffalo at Ohio State, Aug. 31

96. Florida A&M at Ohio State, Sept.21

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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