- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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My friend Doug Lesmerises from The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer opines that this week's matchup between No. 8 Nebraska and No. 7 Wisconsin is the biggest Big Ten game since No. 2 Michigan visited No. 1 Ohio State way back in 2006.
Since the epic Ohio State-Michigan showdown, only one game in the past four seasons featured two Big Ten teams both ranked in the AP top 10. That was No. 10 Ohio State hosting No. 3 Penn State in 2008, when Terrelle Pryor's late-game fumble helped the Nittany Lions remain undefeated and in the national title picture until their loss to Iowa the next week.
The anticipation for Nebraska-Wisconsin has been there long before the season kicked off, as many forecast Saturday's game to be a preview of the inaugural Big Ten championship. Both teams are 4-0, both have quarterbacks playing well (Russell Wilson and Taylor Martinez) and both are viewed as the favorites in their respective divisions.
ESPN "College GameDay" surprised very few people Sunday by selecting Madison as its Week 5 site.
Lesmerises makes a good case for Nebraska-Wisconsin being the Big Ten's top matchup since 2006, but there are some counterpoints. The game takes place really early, and despite their lofty rankings, neither team has been truly tested (especially Wisconsin). Also, it's a division crossover game, so while the loser falls out of the national title mix, the Big Ten championship remains a very realistic goal.
Here are some other games worth considering since the epic 1-2 matchup in 2006:
In 2009, Iowa and Ohio State met in a game that decided the league's Rose Bowl representative.
The 2008 matchup between Penn State and Ohio State also generated a ton of buzz, as the Nittany Lions were in the national title mix at 8-0.
Last year's game between Ohio State and Wisconsin in Madison essentially decided the Rose Bowl representative, although we didn't know it at the time.
Now it's your turn to vote. I'm interested to see the results.
3dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy