Here at the Big Ten blog, we've got our own private jets, access to exclusive penthouse suites and an army of personal valets. OK, so not really. But it's fun to imagine how we would travel during the 2013 season if we had unlimited travel funds and the green light to go wherever we wanted each week.
That's why we came up with this exercise, where we each pick a game for every week of the season and tell you why that's where we'd like to be. Again, this is almost assuredly not going to be our actual season itinerary, although a blogger can dream. We're also limiting ourselves to one game per week even when it's possible to attend more.
We started with Week 1 on Monday. Now it's on to Week 2. Here's the schedule for the games of Sept. 7:
Cincinnati at Illinois
Navy at Indiana
Missouri State at Iowa
Notre Dame at Michigan
South Florida at Michigan State
Minnesota at New Mexico State
Southern Miss at Nebraska
Syracuse at Northwestern
San Diego State at Ohio State
Eastern Michigan at Penn State
Indiana State at Purdue
Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin
Brian Bennett's pick: Notre Dame at Michigan
Well, this one didn't take much thought. Amidst a whole lot of underwhelming matchups is a Notre Dame-Michigan meeting that should be special for a lot of reasons. For one, it could be the last trip to Ann Arbor for a long time for the Irish, who have opted out of this series after next year's final scheduled game in South Bend. Just as it was two years ago in that incredible game, this one will take place under the lights in the second night game in the history of the Big House. If the atmosphere is half as special as it was in 2011, I'd pay to get in the building.
But even if those circumstances weren't in place, this would still be the choice. Notre Dame is coming off its BCS title game appearance and should still be a top-10 team to start the year with a lot of talent returning. Michigan is a bit more of a mystery but will be a strong Big Ten title contender; a win over Notre Dame could propel Brady Hoke's team toward a special season. I can almost guarantee you that Devin Gardner won't throw five interceptions in this game, but the Wolverines will still be challenged against what should remain a stout Irish defense. This rivalry tends to produce nail-biters every year, and I'd expect nothing less out of this year's matchup. The Big Ten is unfortunately very light on marquee out-of-conference games in 2013. This one looks like the best of the bunch, on paper at least. Reserve me a table at Zingerman's for lunch and a spot in the press box at night.
Adam Rittenberg's pick: Notre Dame at Michigan
We'll have to take separate flights and summon the Secret Service to ensure our safety -- both Big Ten bloggers should never be in the same place -- but I'll be joining you at the Big House. And at Zingerman's (we're both fressers). Although the Michigan-Notre Dame game I covered last year in South Bend wasn't nearly as entertaining as the teams' recent meetings in Ann Arbor, this one is too good to pass up. Plus, as you note, the rest of the games don't exactly scream, "Pick me!" It's great that Michigan has finally seen the light and recognized the value of playing under the lights. The atmosphere last time was amazing, and this time, I want to be there in person.
The game itself should live up to the hype. Michigan has had a very good offseason so far -- left tackle Taylor Lewan's return, running back Derrick Green's signing, Gardner's extra year of eligibility -- and could be ready to challenge the nation's elite for the first time in a while. Notre Dame returns many key pieces from the team that played for the crystal football, and the Irish will test Michigan on both sides of the ball. Jake Ryan and the Michigan defense will see a different Everett Golson from the one it saw last September in South Bend. Notre Dame won't see Denard Robinson, who tormented the Irish for two years before imploding in last year's game (five turnovers), but it will contend with Gardner, who provides a completely different challenge in a more traditional Michigan offense. This is the type of game that could springboard Michigan, which has a mostly cushy schedule until November rolls around. If this one is anything like the last few at the Big House, it'll be talked about for quite some time. Sign me up.