Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, July 24, 2015
It's time for my top 10 Big Ten league games.
Now for those top 10 games:
10. Minnesota at Ohio State, Nov. 7. A Big Ten title game preview? Perhaps. Since 1969, Ohio State has lost just twice to Minnesota (1981 and 2000). The Buckeyes won, 31-24, in the Twin Cities last season.
9. Iowa at Wisconsin, Oct. 3. The Hawkeyes have lost the last three games-and five of the last seven–vs. the Badgers, who are led by new coach Paul Chryst. Interestingly, this will be Iowa?s first trip to Madison since 2009, when it took a 20-10 decision, as the last three meetings have been in Iowa City because of scheduling quirks.
8. Penn State at Ohio State, Oct. 17. The Nittany Lions have lost three in a row and five of six to the Buckeyes. PSU?s last win in Columbus came in 2011 with Tom Bradley as interim head coach.
7. Nebraska at Minnesota, Oct. 17. The Golden Gophers have passed the Cornhuskers on the Big Ten West food chain. It?s true. The proof is in the last two seasons, when Minnesota dumped Nebraska not once ? but twice. The Gophers took a 34-23 decision in 2013 in the Twin Cities and prevailed, 28-24, last year in Lincoln. Before that, Minnesota had lost 16 in a row to Nebraska. The Gophers need to keep their foot on the neck of the Cornhuskers if they want to claim their first Big Ten West crown. And if Nebraska keeps losing to Minnesota, it will be hard-pressed to get to the Big Ten title game-or win the program?s first league title since 1999.
6. Michigan State at Nebraska, Nov. 14. The visit from Michigan State will be tough. The Spartans will be one of the top teams in the nation. And they have won the last two meetings with Nebraska, including a 41-28 triumph in Lincoln in 2013. This will be a great test for Mike Riley?s pro-style offense vs. the Spartan Dawg defense.
5. Wisconsin at Nebraska, Oct. 10. A de facto Big Ten West title game? Nebraska is 1-3 vs. the Badgers since joining the Big Ten. And the Huskers often have lost in spectacular fashion, falling 48-17 in Madison in 2011; 70-31 in the 2012 Big Ten title game; 59-24 last year in Madison.
4. Wisconsin at Minnesota, Nov. 28. A season ago, the two rivals played with a trip to Indianapolis on the line. Could it be the same case this year? For the record, Minnesota has lost 11 in a row to Wisconsin and has just two victories vs. the Badgers since 1995, going 2-18 in the last 20 meetings. If this is going to be a special season, Minnesota needs to beat Wisconsin when it visits in the season finale.
3. Michigan State at Michigan, Oct. 17. MSU figures to be favored when it treks to Ann Arbor. The Spartans have more talent and the better team-not to mention loads of momentum, but this is a rivalry game. The Wolverines will be jacked out of their mind for Jim Harbaugh's first game vs. Michigan State, which has won the last two games and six of seven in the series. But the last time the Spartans waded into Ann Arbor, they lost, 12-10, in 2012.
2. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 28. Simply put, this is ?The Game.? And the famed rivalry could be entering a golden era with Urban Meyer vs. Jim Harbaugh. Michigan is 2-12 vs. the Buckeyes in the last 14 encounters. The Wolverines? last win in the series came in Ann Arbor, 40-34, in 2011; they also won in 2003. You know the Wolverines will be sky high with this game in the Big House and it being Harbaugh?s first crack at the Buckeyes.
1. Michigan State at Ohio State, Nov. 21. This figures to be a clash between the two best teams in the Big Ten and possibly could be a playoff elimination bout. It should be epic. Mark Dantonio is 1-2 vs. Urban Meyer, beating the Buckeyes in the 2013 Big Ten title game and falling twice to Meyer and Co., in Spartan Stadium. Michigan State won the last time it invaded the Horseshoe, taking a 10-7 decision in 2011-when Luke Fickell was interim head coach. I can?t wait to watch the Buckeye offense vs. the Spartan defense.
|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.|