View Tom Dienhart’s 2016 Ultimate Big Ten Football Road Trip

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

View Tom Dienhart’s 2016 Ultimate Big Ten Football Road Trip

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Jim Harbaugh signs off at Michigan's popular Signing of the Stars event.

If time and money weren’t issues, which Big Ten games would you want to attend this season? Let me help you out. I have built the ultimate Big Ten itinerary for 2016, identifying what I feel will be the biggest game in each of the 13 weeks of the upcoming season. You’re welcome.

[ MORE: Relive Tom Dienhart’s 2015 ultimate roadtrip | And 2014 ]

Now, pack your Zubaz, tank top, flip flops, bucket hat and Red Bull … and let’s go!

Week 1, Sept. 3: Wisconsin vs. LSU (Green Bay, Wis.). No Big Ten team has a more daunting season opener, as the Badgers take on LSU in historic Lambeau Field. These teams opened vs. each other in 2014, as the Tigers took a 28-24 win at Houston. LSU is 3-0 all-time vs. the Badgers. Adding spice to this opener: Former Wisconsin DC Dave Aranda is now running the Bayou Bengal defense.

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Week 2, Sept. 10: Penn State at Pitt. Finally, Pitt and Penn State are playing. Too bad this isn’t an annual affair. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s enjoy the renewal of this fierce rivalry, as the Nittany Lions trek west to play the Panthers. Penn State leads the all-time series, 50-42-4. Pitt won the last meeting, taking a 12-0 decision at home in 2000. Prior to that, the Nittany Lions had won seven in a row.

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Week 3, Sept. 17: Ohio State at Oklahoma. These college football titans have met just two times, with OU taking a 29-28 decision in Columbus in 1977 and the Buckeyes prevailing 24-14 in Norman in 1983. Sooner coach and Youngstown, Ohio, native Bob Stoops would love to dump Ohio State and build on OU’s trip to the playoffs last season. This will be the ultimate litmus test for a Buckeye squad that is being overhauled.

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Week 4, Sept. 24: Wisconsin at Michigan State. Yes, MSU has some big holes to fill. Still, the Spartans are the defending league champs coming off a playoff appearance. These schools haven’t met since 2012, as Michigan State has won three of the last four. The Badgers’ lone win in that span: In the 2011 Big Ten title game. Earlier in that 2011 season, the teams met in East Lansing with the Spartans winning 37-31 on the unforgettable Kirk Cousins-to-Keith Nichol Hail Mary.

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Week 5, Oct. 1: Wisconsin at Michigan. This will be Wisconsin’s first tilt vs. Michigan since 2010 when the Badgers won in Ann Arbor; Wisconsin has won the last two and three of the last four. This is part of a brutal start to the Big Ten season for Bucky, which plays Michigan State the week before and takes on Ohio State, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern after playing the Wolverines.

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Week 6, Oct. 8: Iowa at Minnesota. If the Gophers want to contend in what looks like an open Big Ten West, they probably will need to beat visiting Iowa in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. The Hawkeyes have won three of the last four meetings, but the Gophers won the last time Iowa came to Dinkytown in 2014. The week before this tilt, Minnesota plays at Penn State, so the Gophers may be a bit worn down.

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Week 7, Oct. 15: Ohio State at Wisconsin. Ohio State has won four in a row vs. the Badgers and seven of eight, last losing in Madison in 2010. OSU hasn’t been to Madison since 2012. This will be a good test for the Badgers, who will be in the midst of a brutal stretch as the offense works in a new quarterback. Wisconsin is off the week leading into this game, which will help. But it will be coming off games at Michigan State and at Michigan with a game at Iowa to follow.

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Week 8, Oct. 22: Ohio State at Penn State. James Franklin needs a signature victory, a momentum building triumph that can help propel the Nittany Lions up the food chain in the Big Ten East. So, how about slaying Ohio State when it visits for a prime-time game that will be a “white out”? The Buckeyes, who have many big holes to fill, have won the last four vs. PSU and haven’t lost in Beaver Stadium since 2005.

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Week 9, Oct. 29: Michigan at Michigan State. It doesn’t get much better. This is pure hatred. If the Spartans want to repeat as East champs, they need to dispatch hated rival (and fast-rising) Michigan. The Spartans are 7-1 in the last eight games vs. Michigan, which hasn’t won in East Lansing since 2007. Michigan owes the Spartans after losing one of the wildest games in college football annals last season. You remember the way it ended, don’t you?

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Week 10, Nov. 5: Nebraska at Ohio State. Going to Ohio State will be tough for the Cornhuskers. Making it more difficult: The week before, Nebraska plays at Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers haven’t played the Buckeyes since 2012, with OSU taking a 63-38 win in Columbus. NU won the other meeting vs. Ohio State as a Big Ten school, rallying for a 34-27 decision in 2011 in Lincoln.

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Week 11, Nov. 12: Michigan at Iowa. This game for the Hawkeyes comes on the heels of a trip to Penn State the week before. Not ideal. Conversely, Michigan plays at home vs. Maryland the week before coming to Kinnick. Iowa hasn’t played the Wolverines since 2013, winning four of the last five, including three in a row in Kinnick. Still, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan rolling. This will be a good measuring stick for the Hawkeyes, the likely Big Ten West favorite. Could this be a preview of the Big Ten title game?

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Week 12, Nov. 19: Ohio State at Michigan State. Last season, the Spartans invaded Ohio State and knocked off the No. 3 Buckeyes, 17-14, with backup Tyler O’Connor at the controls. The loss effectively killed Ohio State’s Big Ten and national title hopes while helping propel the Spartans to the Big Ten championship and a playoff bid. No doubt, the Buckeyes haven’t forgotten. Check this out: Ohio State has won its last five trips to East Lansing, last losing in 1999.

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Week 13, Nov. 26: Michigan at Ohio State. Front and center on this Saturday: “The Game.” Could the Big Ten East crown be on the line? The Buckeyes have dominated this series of late, going 12-2 since 2001 and winning the last four meetings with a 42-13 triumph last season. The last time Michigan won in Columbus? It was 2000, when the Wolverines took a 38-26 decision. The Wolverines are on the rise under Jim “Mr. Satellite Camp” Harbaugh.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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Tuesday Sep 27
7:00 PMFlorida Gulf Coast at Rutgers Watch
7:00 PMTemple at Penn St.Watch
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Wednesday Sep 28
4:00 PMBowling Green at Michigan St.Watch
7:00 PMSIUE at Ohio St.Watch
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8:00 PMMaryland at IowaWatch

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