Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, June 18, 2015

This is one of the most glorious Saturdays of the year. It?s rivalry week, with eclectic trophies up for grabs-and maybe some division titles and bowl bids.

[ MORE: Best of Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 ]

And no game will be more watched than Ohio State at Michigan ? aka ?The Game.? The Buckeyes may have the Big Ten East title (and playoff berth) on the line. The Wolverines could be aiming for a good bowl bid-not to mention all-important bragging rights and the chance to ruin a potentially special season for Ohio State.

Speaking of special seasons, Minnesota needs to beat Wisconsin when it visits in the battle for Paul Bunyan?s Axe if the Gophers want to make 2015 memorable. The losing to the Badgers has to stop if the Gophers want to get over the proverbial hump in the Big Ten food chain. Minnesota has lost 11 in a row to Wisconsin and has just two victories (2001 and 2003) vs. the Badgers since 1995, going 2-18 in the last 20 meetings.

Iowa and Nebraska play on ?Black Friday.? The Hawkeyes won the last time they visited Lincoln in 2013, taking a 38-17 verdict. Iowa blew a 24-7 third-quarter lead to the Huskers last year en route to losing in overtime, 37-34.

The Nittany Lions have lost the last two vs. Michigan State-both in State College. This will be Penn State?s first trip to East Lansing since 2009, when it won 42-14

If Rutgers wants to return to the postseason, it probably will need to beat Maryland in the season finale. The Scarlet Knights pulled off a monster comeback last season vs. the Terps, rallying from a 35-10 second-quarter deficit to take a 41-38 win in College Park, Md. These teams will be measured vs. each other for some time, as each entered the Big Ten together.

Last year, the Fighting Illini needed to win at Northwestern to get bowl eligible-and did. Illinois may find itself in the same predicament this season in the finale vs. Northwestern at Soldier Field. The good news: Illinois has won three of the last five meetings.

If Purdue wants to reach a bowl, it must beat visiting Indiana in the season finale Old Oaken Bucket clash. The scales have tipped in this rivalry, with Purdue now looking up at the Hoosiers. The Boilermakers have lost two in a row to the Hoosiers-both in Bloomington. The teams haven?t met in West Lafayette since 2012, the last time Purdue won the Old Oaken Bucket. If Purdue keeps losing to Indiana, it has little chance to become relevant in the Big Ten. The Boilers mustered just 16 points and 351 yards vs. a bad IU defense last season in a 23-16 Hoosier triumph.

Game of the week: Ohio State at Michigan. Since 2001, the Buckeyes have won 12 of 14 meetings vs. the Wolverines. The losses came in 2003 and 2011. You know the Wolverines will be sky high with this game in the Big House and it being Jim Harbaugh?s first crack at the Buckeyes. The Wolverines? last win in the series came in Ann Arbor, 40-34, in 2011.

Best quarterback matchup: It has to be Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg vs. Michigan State?s Connor Cook. Hackenberg is looking for a bounce-back season following a sophomore season filled with challenges. He often was under duress and pressure, often feeling the need to make something happen and sometimes forcing the action. Cook is poised for a huge senior season and has Heisman hopes. He is a two-time second-team All-Big Ten choice who led the league in passing last season (3,214 yards; 247.2 ypg). Cook also was a Maxwell and O?Brien semifinalist.

Best head coach matchup: All eyes will be on Jim Harbaugh vs. Urban Meyer. Harbaugh has caught America by storming with a tidal wave of publicity that has created a mega-force of momentum heading into his debut at his alma mater. No matter the Wolverine record at this point-if Harbaugh can engineer a win vs. Ohio State (and maybe ruin the Buckeyes? national title dreams), his debut will be considered a success by most Michigan fans. Meyer has the hottest program in the nation, going 38-3 in three seasons in Columbus and 24-0 in the Big Ten to go along with last year?s national title. Ohio State is America?s ?it? program.

Best coordinator matchup: Joe Rudolph has the ?offensive coordinator? title at Wisconsin. But Paul Chryst pushes the buttons. It will be intriguing to watch him match Xs and Os with Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, who has helped transform Minnesota's defense since he has been in charge and has been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award (top college assistant coach) in each of the past two seasons. Chryst is back home at Wisconsin, where he played and served as coordinator from 2005-11. In fact, Chryst-led offenses are responsible for six of the top 10 total offense seasons, three of the top four scoring offenses, three of the top five third-down conversion percentages, three of the top four completion percentage seasons and five of the top seven individual pass efficiency seasons in school history. In total, the Badgers averaged 34.1 points and 416.3 yards of total offense in Chryst's seven years at the helm. Both of those were tops in the Big Ten over that span.

Upset alert: Iowa let Nebraska wiggle off the hook last season in Iowa City, blowing a 17-point lead and losing 37-34 in OT. Perhaps the Hawkeyes can return the favor this season when they visit Lincoln. It?s difficult to say how both teams will be playing at this juncture of the season. Maybe C.J. Beathard will be spearheading a high-flying offense for the Hawkeyes, and the defense will be vintage Iowa-tough, physical, bend-but-don?t-break. How will the Cornhuskers be playing as the season draws to a close under new coach Mike Riley?

Ranking Week 13 Games
1. Ohio State at Michigan
2. Wisconsin at Minnesota
3. Iowa at Nebraska (Friday)
4. Penn State at Michigan State
5. Maryland at Rutgers
6. Northwestern at Illinois (Soldier Field)
7. Indiana at Purdue


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.