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.

[ MORE: Get Dienhart’s preseason unit rankings | And schedule analysis ]

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.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

[ MORE: Photos: Big Ten teams release 2014 schedule posters ]

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.

Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley

Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

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.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Find out more about:

8 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
Richard Barnes on 7/15/2014 @ 5:06pm EST Said:

This is some nice work. I’ll peruse it some more as that season goes on.

hadley smith on 7/15/2014 @ 6:30pm EST Said:

I’m surprised he left out the app st @ mich. game since A.S. pulled off the biggest upset in div 1-A ftb. What were your thinkin Tom?

chicago60614 on 7/15/2014 @ 7:06pm EST Said:

So in other words, the REAL “Team Up North” is located in EAST LANSING. Please tell Delany and your programming staff to stop pandering to the nostalgia-drive blue hair baby boomers and greatest generation who dust off the Betamax and pop in a cassette tape of UM-OSU games of 40+ years ago? There’s a map to Todaytown and Nowville….and it leads to EAST LANSING. Please show it to Delany. Any other pandering to an irrelevant and obsolete rivalry smacks of professional wrestling promoters trying to prop up an old washed up wrestler. It makes the B1G look pathetic and gives ammunition to critics of the B1G.

Doug on 7/15/2014 @ 8:00pm EST Said:

no doubt hadley, and michigan could beat appy st 100-0 and it still would do nothing to make them forget the 2007 game

josh on 7/16/2014 @ 4:06am EST Said:

I’m a life long buckeye. I bleed scarlet and grey, my g.pa. graduated from THE ohio state university, and I don’t understand how there is any doubt that we have the biggest and most historic rivalry with that team up north. Yes mich st is a rising program and I take nothing away from their coach. They beat us in the big ten championship fair and square. But in ohio, if you lose all other games and still beat the team up north, u still have ur job, there is a certain reapect, even right after bo died and they were in the shoe. We dis a special tribute for him out of the deep reapect for our bitter rivalry. But don’t get it twisted. BEAT BLUE!!!!!

motownwalt on 7/16/2014 @ 5:27am EST Said:

It is good to be a Spartan! #GoGreen

Gurndogg on 7/16/2014 @ 12:47pm EST Said:

I just don’t get why you have games of Ind. against others & not OSU plus the Cinn. vs OSU game should be on here as Cinn. could give OSU one of the best games all year other than MSU of course & maybe UM only cause its The GAME.

John Douglass on 7/18/2014 @ 4:59pm EST Said:

Great list, and I especially appreciate your sense of the intensity of the Maryland-West Virginia rivalry at No. 26 … “Lots of hate” — oh yeah! … But to celebrate the Terps’ admission into the B1G, I know a lot of alums who would give that slot to Maryland at Penn State.