Monday, July 15, 2013
Poll: Best nonconference game
By Brian Bennett
On Friday, we wrapped up our series looking at every Big Ten team's nonconference schedule. This week, we'll start ranking the nonconference games. But now we want to know which game you're most looking forward to outside of league play.
- Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 7: Something special, or at least interesting, always seems to happen when these two meet. They will be back under the lights at the Big House again, hoping to recreate the magic of that 2011 game (well, the Irish don't want to replicate the ending of that one). Both teams will likely be ranked in the top 15, and it will be the last time Notre Dame comes to Ann Arbor for a while.
- UCLA at Nebraska, Sept. 14: A game that's not getting enough offseason buzz, in my opinion. Last year's 36-30 win by the Bruins was chock full of big plays and offensive fireworks. That should be no different this time around, and both teams should be ranked coming off of conference division titles.
- Michigan State at Notre Dame, Sept. 21: The Irish make a second appearance here, which tells you a little something about the state of the Big Ten nonconference schedules in 2013. Still, this series has produced its own excitement -- Little Giants, anyone? -- and the Spartans will have had a few weeks to hopefully straighten out some of their offensive issues.
- Wisconsin at Arizona State, Sept. 14: It's always treacherous when Big Ten teams venture out to Pac-12 country, and the Badgers face a tough test in the desert in Week 2 versus the Sun Devils. Todd Graham's team has an explosive offense and some talented defensive players, including superstar tackle Will Sutton. This should be a great early challenge for the new Gary Andersen regime.
- Penn State vs. Syracuse, Aug. 31: The Nittany Lions and the Orange square off at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in what will be Syracuse's first game as an ACC member. Penn State will be breaking in a new quarterback -- could this be the beginning of the Christian Hackenberg era -- as Bill O'Brien shows off his pro-style offense on an NFL field. For a team that can't play in the postseason, this is a pretty strong season opener.
Which of these are you most pumped up for? Vote now in our poll. And if you want to make a case for some other games -- Ohio State at Cal, Illinois-Washington, Purdue at Cincinnati, etc., etc. --- feel free to sound off below.