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Thursday, July 3, 2014
Ranking B1G nonconference games: Part II

By Brian Bennett

It's the dog days of summer, so we're desperate to see some football. Of course, not all football games are created equally.

As we've done in the past around here, we're ranking the 2014 Big Ten nonconference games from worst to first. We're taking into account quality of opponent, interest level and expected competitiveness of the game.

We presented our first (read: worst) batch of 14 games on Wednesday, and you'd really have to love your teams to be excited about some of those contests. Things perk up a little bit in this next round, though it still includes a whole lot of matchups against non-power conference opponents. Still: football!

Away we go:

No. 42: Michigan vs. Miami (Ohio), Sept. 13: The RedHawks went 0-12 last year. 'Nuff said.

No. 41: Minnesota vs. Eastern Illinois, Aug. 28: How did an FCS game escape our worst tier? Because the Panthers won 12 games a year ago and could once again have an explosive offense thanks to some FBS transfers. Gophers had better be wary.

No. 40: Purdue vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 6: It's no sure thing for the Boilermakers, but they need to win this one at home to keep fans interested.

No. 39: Iowa vs. Northern Iowa, Aug. 30: Northern Iowa last beat the Hawkeyes in 1898, but the Panthers did upset Iowa State last year. It's one of the few FCS games you could talk me into saving. Maybe.

No. 38: Minnesota vs. Middle Tennessee, Sept. 6: The Blue Raiders have built a solid program. Again, the Gophers just can't roll out of bed and expect to win this one.

No. 37: Nebraska vs. Florida Atlantic, Aug. 30: Already looking forward to the Carl Pelini jokes from Faux Pelini, but not much else with this game.

No. 36: Rutgers vs. Tulane, Sept. 27: The Scarlet Knights had better take care of business here, because there aren't many more games on the schedule where they'll be favored.

No. 35: Indiana vs. North Texas, Oct. 4: Don't sleep on the Mean Green, who won nine games a year ago. Still, on name value alone, I wouldn't exactly expect the "GameDay" crew in Bloomington for this one.

No. 34: Ohio State vs. Kent State, Sept. 13: Luckily, the Buckeyes' nonconference schedule has no true dog games on it this year. Though this one flirts with that status.

No. 33: Minnesota vs. San Jose State, Sept. 20: Thought the Spartans might pull the upset last year in Minneapolis, but the Gophers handled them just fine. SJSU comes to Minnesota after playing at Auburn this year. Paycheck time.

No. 32: Penn State vs. Akron, Sept. 6: The Zips are getting better, and Penn State will be returning home from its opener in Ireland. Potential trap game for the Lions.

No. 31: Iowa vs. Ball State, Sept. 6: The Cardinals won 10 games a year ago, and Iowa knows full well the dangers a good MAC team can present. Just sayin'.

No. 30: South Florida at Wisconsin, Sept. 27: The Bulls can't possibly be as bad as they were in a 2-10 season last year with all that Florida talent, can they? If so, this could be a serious beatdown.

No 29: Wyoming at Michigan State, Sept. 27: Craig Bohl made maybe the most interesting coaching move of the offseason in taking over the Cowboys. He's going to have his hands full in East Lansing.