Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, May 9, 2016
There was huge news around Big Ten country today as BTN announced its 2016 Saturday primetime football schedule.
Of the ten games on the slate, seven feature teams that finished ranked in the final AP Top 25 poll.
I reached out to some of BTN's football personalities to get their thoughts on the top matchups.
My question: What is the most intriguing game on the BTN primetime schedule?
Here is a look at what I got!
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) – Iowa at Penn State
By the time they meet in early November, the Hawkeyes may be making a push to repeat as West champs. The Nittany Lions face an interesting year in season No. 3 under James Frankin. And this is the kind of game he needs to win at home to move up the pecking order in the rugged East.
BTN.com senior web editor Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) – Iowa at Penn State
Two big-time programs, the road team likely to be entertaining back-to-back division title dreams, an offense full of skill talent (Penn State) vs. a defense led by a likely first-round pick (Iowa), played under the lights in one of the nation?s best atmospheres? Sign me up.
BTN Social Media Corespondent Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) – North Carolina at Illinois
Even though the Illini open with Murray State, this is Lovie Smith's true coming out party. Smith has been the subject of hype and expectations all around Champaign simply off of his big name, but the next true test is seeing how he actually runs that football team…and that test is really the only one that matters. UNC is not an easy game by any means, fans will see a packed memorial stadium for the first time in a very long time.
BTN Football Analyst Marcus Ray (@Marcus_Ray29) – North Carolina at Illinois
Last year UNC smashed Illinois in Chapel Hill. UNC had a great year in 2015 and they should be pretty good again in 2016. Illinois has been through a coaching circus in the last 12 months but the hiring of Lovie Smith should pay dividends with an Illinois team loaded with undeveloped talent. It's an early non-conference matchup that can set the stage for conference play.
BTN Football Analyst Chuck Long (@ChuckLongIowa) – North Carolina at Illinois
First chance for Lovie Smith to show the nation his program. How will he adjust to the college game and fast paced no-huddle offenses like NC. Will he implement a Tampa 2 style defense?
BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman (@BTNSean) – Iowa at Penn State
Do you know how many wins James Franklin has against ranked teams during his time at Penn State? Zero. This could be his chance to get a signature win against a potential ranked opponent on the Nittany Lions' home field.
BTN studio host Mike Hall (@BTNMikeHall) – Iowa vs. Iowa State
Iowa vs Iowa State is an enormous deal in that state, and an underrated rivalry nationally. Plus this will be a great barometer on if last season's 12 wins were a one year Hawkeye wonder, or if they are a Big Ten title contender again this fall