Dienhart ranks top 50 Big Ten games of 2014
So many good games to choose from, so little time … where to begin? That’s the conundrum when looking over the composite Big Ten schedule. There are a lot of very appealing games as the Big Ten begins its new 14-team era. Here are my top 50 games on the 2014 schedule.
1. Ohio State at Michigan State, Nov. 8: Figures to be a de facto Big Ten East title game.
2. Michigan State at Oregon, Sept. 6: Could set the table for the Spartans’ run for a playoff spot.
3. Nebraska at Michigan State, Oct. 4: A possible preview of the Big Ten title game.
4. Wisconsin vs. LSU (in Houston), Aug. 30: Melvin Gordon can become a legit Heisman contender with a big game and Badgers’ win.
5. Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 29: Ohio State has won 11 of the last 13 encounters.
6. Michigan at Notre Dame, Sept. 6: Michigan has won four of the last five meetings in a series that is about to end. Too bad.
7. Nebraska at Iowa, Nov. 28: Black Friday shoppers will miss this potential battle for the Big Ten West crown.
8. Wisconsin at Iowa, Nov. 22: There are few series as close as Wisconsin-Iowa, with the Badgers leading 43-42-2.
9. Virginia Tech at Ohio State, Sept. 6: Frank Beamer vs. Urban Meyer … enough said.
10. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Nov. 15: The Cornhuskers were embarrassed 48-17 in their last trip to Madison in 2011.
11. Michigan at Michigan State, Oct. 25: The Wolverines will be looking for payback after getting throttled by Michigan State in East Lansing last year, 29-6.
12. Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska, Sept. 20: The Hurricanes haven’t been to Nebraska since making back-to-back trips in 1975-76, games the Huskers won.
13. Michigan State at Penn State, Nov. 29: Great QB battle between Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.
14. Nebraska at Northwestern, Oct. 18: Last three meetings have been spine-tingling.
15. Iowa at Minnesota, Nov. 8: In a bit of scheduling quirk, this will be Iowa’s fourth trip in five years to Minnesota. Iowa is 1-2 in its last three junkets to Minneapolis.
16. Ohio State at Penn State, Oct. 25: It won’t get any better than Ohio State’s Braxton Miller vs. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.
17. Penn State at Michigan, Oct. 11: The Wolverines have lost four in a row to the Nittany Lions. Before that, Michigan won nine in a row vs. Penn State.
18. Minnesota at Nebraska, Nov. 22: Minnesota had lost 16 in a row to Nebraska before beating the Cornhuskers last year, 34-23, in the Twin Cities.
19. Minnesota at Wisconsin, Nov. 29: The Badgers have thoroughly dominated the Gophers of late, winning the last 10 meetings and 17 of 19.
20. Northwestern at Notre Dame, Nov. 15: The teams haven’t met since the Wildcats famously went to South Bend in 1995 and stunned the Fighting Irish, 17-15, behind Pat Fitzgerald.
21. Iowa at Pitt, Sept. 20: Iowa’s trip to Pitt may be the only time this season the Hawkeyes are an underdog.
22. Minnesota at Michigan, Sept. 27: The Wolverines have dominated this series, going 39-3 in the last 42 meetings. The Golden Gophers’ lone Little Brown Jug wins in that stretch have come in 1977, 1986 and 2005.
23. Nebraska at Fresno State, Sept. 13: The Huskers will be tested in a rabid environment vs. a good program coming off an 11-2 season.
24. Iowa State at Iowa, Sept. 13: The Cyclones have been a pain in Kirk Ferentz’s keister, going 8-7 vs. Captain Kirk since he followed Hayden Fry in 1999.
25. Michigan State at Indiana, Oct. 18: Michigan State had to rally for a 31-27 win in Bloomington the last time it visited in 2012.
26. West Virginia at Maryland, Sept. 13: Maryland-West Virginia is a long rivalry, having been played 50 times. Lots of hate.
27. Northwestern at Iowa, Nov. 1: Northwestern has had the better of Iowa of late, going 10-7 vs. the Hawkeyes in the last 17 meetings.
28. Michigan State at Maryland, Nov. 15: A potential road block for the Spartans. Beware.
29. Indiana at Missouri, Sept. 20: The Hoosiers’ last two trips to Columbia ended in ties (1991 and 1988). Still, IU may have a good shot to upend Missouri in Columbia.
30. Maryland at Michigan, Nov. 22: Michigan is 3-0 all-time vs. Maryland, as all three encounters have been since 1985 and have taken place in Ann Arbor.
31. Cal at Northwestern, Aug. 30: NU will be looking to beat Cal for a second season in a row.
32. Ohio State at Minnesota, Nov. 15: Minnesota is 7-43 all-time vs. Ohio State, losing the last eight games and 24 of 25. The only Gophers’ win in that span was in 2000.
33. Utah at Michigan, Sept. 20: Michigan fans probably want to forget Utah’s last trip to Ann Arbor in 2008, when the Utes dumped the Wolverines, 25-23, in the debut of the Rich Rodriguez era.
34. Minnesota at TCU, Sept. 13: Old pals Jerry Kill and Gary Patterson lock horns.
35. Wisconsin at Northwestern, Oct. 4: Wisconsin has won three of the last five games vs. Northwestern, scoring at least 31 points in each meeting.
36. Iowa at Maryland, Oct. 18: Iowa and Maryland never have played.
37. Indiana at Michigan, Nov. 1: Indiana has lost 18 in a row to the Wolverines and 33 of 34.
38. Penn State at Indiana, Nov. 8: PSU was 16-0 all-time vs. Indiana … until last season, when the Hoosiers topped the Nittany Lions, 44-24, in Bloomington.
39. Northwestern at Minnesota, Oct. 11: The Golden Gophers stole one in Evanston last season, taking a 20-17 win.
40. Penn State vs. UCF (in Dublin, Ireland), Aug. 30: The James Franklin era kicks off with a de facto bowl game overseas.
41. Michigan at Northwestern, Nov. 8: Michigan is 55-15-2 all-time vs. NU, but four of the Wildcats’ wins have come since 1995.
42. Ohio State at Navy (in Baltimore), Aug. 30: A potential trapdoor game for the Buckeyes, who must deal with the triple-option offense.
43. Illinois at Northwestern, Nov. 29: Illinois hasn’t won in Evanston since 2002. (The Illini won in Wrigley Field in 2010.)
44. Penn State at Rutgers, Sept. 13: The Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten game ever and the first time the Nittany Lions have been on Rutgers’ campus since 1955.
45. Maryland at Penn State, Nov. 1: The Nittany Lions are 35-1-1 all-time vs. the Terps.
46. Ohio State at Maryland, Oct. 4: The Terps will be thinking upset, as their offense may pose issues for a Buckeye defense that has a lot to prove.
47. Purdue at Indiana, Nov. 29: Since 1997, the Boilermakers are 13-4 vs. Indiana.
48. Rutgers at Maryland, Nov. 29: These schools last played in 2007 and 2009, with each winning in the other’s stadium.
49. Illinois at Washington, Sept. 13: These teams played a spirited game in Chicago last year. Good litmus test for Illini.
50. Northern Illinois at Northwestern, Sept. 6: The Wildcats are 6-0-1 all-time vs. NIU, last playing in 2005.
|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.|