The Big Ten Conference is doing something different with the football schedule this year in that after the initially-scheduled eight games are played, each team in the East and West will be matched up with the team that finished in the same spot as them in the other division. This creates a “championship week” for all 14 Big Ten schools aside from the big title that will be played in Indianapolis.
With that in mind, I went through and picked all of the Big Ten games this season, sorted the teams and put the matchups together. Here’s what I came up with:
Minnesota (7-1) vs. Ohio State (8-0)
I’m not exactly going off the board here, but these are the two best teams heading into the year in their respective divisions and on paper are the Big Ten’s best shot currently at a playoff team.
Purdue (5-3) at Michigan (6-2)
This was originally supposed to be Michigan’s homecoming game, but was wiped off the docket when the second conference-only schedule was announced. I like Purdue as the sleeper team to come out of the West in a year where offensive firepower is running rampant through college football. But I would like Michigan to win this game at home.
Wisconsin (5-3) at Penn State (6-2)
Wisconsin loses a lot from last year and now is without its projected starting quarterback this year. They will still factor into the West race and reload like they always do, but they wind up in the third-place game here. This matchup would be a heck of a lot of fun.
Prediction: Penn State
Iowa (4-4) at Indiana (5-3)
The Hoosiers are expected to have one of the best teams they have ever had and thrive on chaos, which might make a COVID-altered season the recipe for them to rise up the standings this season. That said, Iowa is a consistent force in the West division as well and plays the type of football that might be able to slow Indiana down.
Maryland (3-5) at Nebraska (3-5)
Nebraska has a rough go of it early on in its schedule and might still be a year away from truly being a threat in the division, but I do see them being an improved team by season’s end and this would be a nice way to go out for them.
Michigan State (1-7) at Northwestern (2-6)
Northwestern will probably surprise us all and be much better than this. I am less confident in Michigan State doing so. It’s going to be a rough first year for Mel Tucker in East Lansing.
Rutgers (0-8) at Illinois (1-7)
I have nothing nice to say about this game. Go Brandon Peters.