Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 31, 2017
Ask any coach, and he?ll tell you that they play the games to remember in November. Armed with that bromide, here are the biggest games in the Big Ten in college football?s defining month.
1. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 25. It?s known simply as ?The Game.? That?s all you need to know. Magnitude? It?s always big. Ohio State could be looking to wrap up the Big Ten East and stay on course for a playoff spot. Michigan just wants to beat the Buckeyes. Period. In case you didn?t know, Jim Harbaugh is 0-2 vs. Ohio State. Last year?s 30-27 double OT win by OSU in Columbus was epic. Michigan has lost five in a row to Ohio State and 12 of 13. The last Wolverine triumph? In 2011 in Ann Arbor.
2. Penn State at Michigan State, Nov. 4. Two strong programs looking to stay in the Big Ten East title chase. The loser, for all intents and purposes, can kiss its division dreams goodbye. The Nittany Lions also have playoff hopes. It will be fun to watch the Nittany Lions offense take on a rugged Spartan defense. And this will be feature a good QB battle, pitting Penn State?s Trace McSorley vs. Michigan State?s Brian Lewerke.
3. Michigan State at Ohio State, Nov. 11. The last time the Spartans visited the Horseshoe in 2015, they stunned the Buckeyes, 17-14, with a backup QB. That loss cost Ohio State the Big Ten title and propelled Michigan State to the league title and a playoff spot. Afterwards, star Buckeye RB Ezekiel Elliott questioned his coaches? play-calling. Can Michigan State rain on Ohio State?s parade again?
4. Michigan at Wisconsin, Nov. 18. Much has been written and said about the Badgers? chances to go unbeaten in the regular season. This looks like it will be Wisconsin?s toughest test. Both teams have strong defenses, so this one could come down to which offense can get on track. Keep an eye on the QBs. The Badgers? Alex Hornibrook is a sophomore who has been up and down; the Wolverines? Brandon Peters is a redshirt freshman with scant experience. Camp Randall will be rocking.
5. Ohio State at Iowa, Nov. 4. The Buckeyes made a big statement last week with that come-from-behind win at home vs. Penn State that caused hearts to stop in Columbus. Now, Ohio State looks to be a team on a mission to win the Big Ten for the first time since 2014 and make up for last year?s playoff pratfall vs. Clemson. OSU has won the last five meetings vs. Iowa. The Hawkeyes? last triumph? A 33-7 romp in Iowa City in 2004. Before that, Iowa hadn?t toppled the Buckeyes since 1991. The Hawkeyes have a knack of pulling big upsets in Kinnick. Remember the 24-23 stunner vs. No. 3 Penn State in 2008? And the 14-13 upset of No. 2 Michigan last year? Iowa almost dumped the Nittany Lions this year.
6. Iowa at Wisconsin, Nov. 11. A battle between two of the best teams in the Big Ten West. Wisconsin is 6-3 in the last nine meetings vs. the Hawkeyes. This will be only the second meeting in Madison since 2009 in a series the Badgers lead 45-43-2. More importantly, this game looks to be one of Wisconsin?s biggest potential stumbling blocks left to its march to an unbeaten record. Perhaps the Badgers will be looking past Iowa to the next week, when they play host to Michigan. Maybe not.