- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We are just 100 days away from the start of college football season. To celebrate, here are the 10 Big Ten games we're most looking forward to seeing in the 2015 season, in reverse order:
10. Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 17): Last year these teams met at Penn State, which took Ohio State to overtime before falling 31-24. The Nittany Lions' favorable 2015 schedule means they could be 6-0 heading into this night game at the Horseshoe. QB Christian Hackenberg and a fierce defense give Penn State a fighting chance for the upset.
9. Wisconsin at Nebraska (Oct. 10): The Badgers inflicted more pain on Nebraska during Bo Pelini's tenure than on any other Big Ten team. New Huskers coach Mike Riley hopes to fare better in capturing the recently anointed Freedom Trophy, a game he must win to end his program's conference title drought.
8. Wisconsin at Minnesota (Nov. 28): Wisconsin's Axe winning streak stands at 11, but there's little doubt that Minnesota is inching closer. The Gophers will try to protect their goal posts from getting chopped again at home, and this game might decide the West Division for the second straight year.
7. TCU at Minnesota (Sept. 3): There's no easing into the season for Jerry Kill's Gophers, who host a Horned Frogs team that likely will enter the year ranked No. 2 on a Thursday night. It was a mismatch last year in Fort Worth, but Minnesota will try to make an enormous opening statement at home.
6. Ohio State at Virginia Tech (Sept. 7): The Hokies were the only team to beat Ohio State in 2014, pulling off a 35-21 shocker in Columbus early last season. So we imagine the Buckeyes will be a little motivated for some revenge on Labor Day night, although the Lane Stadium atmosphere should provide a stern test for the defending champs. And we'll get to see how the Buckeyes' intriguing quarterback situation plays out.
5. Michigan State at Michigan (Oct. 17): The Spartans are enjoying near-unprecedented success over their in-state rivals, winning six of the past seven in this series, often in dominant fashion. So there's a lot at, ahem, stake for new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who must first find a way to beat the boys from East Lansing before he can think about winning championships.
4. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Sept. 5): The Big Ten claimed some scalps against the SEC in bowl season, as Ohio State beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and the Badgers turned back Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Can the league keep the momentum going on opening weekend at Jerry World, the site of the Buckeyes' breakthrough title? It will be a tough task out of the gate for new Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst.
3. Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12): For the second year in a row, this green-on-green affair serves as the marquee nonconference matchup for the Big Ten, if not in the nation. This time, it's in Big Ten country, as Michigan State looks to avenge last year's 46-27 loss in Eugene.
2. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 28): The Game gets some added juice this year, as Harbaugh squares off against Urban Meyer for the first time in this series, potentially beginning another Bo vs. Woody style rivalry. It remains to be seen whether the Wolverines will be good enough to challenge the Buckeyes, but the game is in the Big House.
1. Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21): This has developed into the must-see game of Big Ten play the past few seasons, and the Spartans present the No. 1 threat to the Buckeyes' Big Ten supremacy. Both teams should start the season in the top 10, and this game likely will carry major playoff implications.
Just missed the cut: Nebraska at Miami (Sept. 19); Minnesota at Ohio State (Nov. 7); Michigan State at Nebraska (Nov. 7); Michigan at Utah (Sept. 3); Iowa at Wisconsin (Oct. 3)