Best of Week 5: How does Big Ten play sound?

Every school is in action this Saturday, with a mix of Big Ten and non-conference action. There are five league games and four non-league clashes. None of the games stand out or look all that notable, but there could be some hidden gems. Here’s a look at the Best of Week 5.

[ MORE: Get all of Dienhart's preseason schedule analysis ]

BEST OF WEEK 5

Best storyline: We have a trophy battle, as Minnesota travels to Ann Arbor to play for the Little Brown Jug. Is there a cooler trophy in all of sports?

Game of the week: Minnesota at Michigan. This is a tale of programs that seemingly are trending in opposite directions. The Wolverines have dominated this series, going 39-3 in the last 42 meetings. The Golden Gophers’ lone wins in that stretch have come in 1977, 1986 and 2005. Still, Minnesota is a program on the rise under Jerry Kill and is coming off consecutive bowl trips. Conversely, Michigan is struggling under Brady Hoke, coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that has some wondering about the direction of a program that has seen its win total drop each of the last three seasons.

Top quarterback matchup: Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian vs. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. This one isn’t bad at all. Siemian takes over for departed Kain Colter, bringing more of a passing dimension to the Wildcat offense. Siemian also brings experience to the table, so he’ll be ready to roll and has some good skill around him. Hackenberg is coming off a sensational debut and is touted by some as the top pro-style quarterback in the nation despite being just a sophomore.

Best coordinator battle: Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit vs. Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis. Cubit worked a minor miracle with the Illini offense last season. For his next act, he’ll fold in a new quarterback and look to enhance the running game. Don’t bet against the wily Cubit making this a formidable attack once again. Papuchis will have a defense that teems with potential and talent, especially across the front seven.

Upset alert: Minnesota at Michigan. The Gophers may be able to ambush the Wolverines, especially if Michigan gets off to a rough start to the season. Jerry Kill continues to look for a signature road win in his tenure. This certainly would be it. A key for Michigan will be to show that its offense can run the ball to establish play-action. If the front struggles to get a push vs. what has been an underrated Golden Gophers defense, it could be a long day for the Wolverines.

Week 5 nuggets: Maryland takes the lid off of its Big Ten experience with its first conference game, traveling to Indiana … Urban Meyer coaches against his alma mater Cincinnati … Tulane won’t be a pushover for Rutgers, coming off a 7-6 season that included a bowl game. But Rutgers should have more talent than Tulane. The Scarlet Knights are 4-2 all-time vs. the Green Wave.

RANKING WEEK 5 GAMES
1. Minnesota at Michigan
2. Northwestern at Penn State
3. Maryland at Indiana
4. Cincinnati at Ohio State
5. Illinois at Nebraska
6. Iowa at Purdue
7. South Florida at Wisconsin
8. Wyoming at Michigan State
9. Tulane at Rutgers

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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