Big Ten Football: Playing in Primetime

By Phil Clark
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It is that special time of the day: primetime. In September, it is the time of the day when the sun begins to set and many people get to bask in a nice, colorful sunset. It is also the time of day when college football takes center stage on Saturday’s. There could be anything in else in sports going on, but primetime on a Saturday night during football season equals college football. The Big-Ten will occupy primetime on ABC during the first month and a half of the season this coming season with some obvious and not-so-obvious choices for what games are going to be televised at night.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines, September 7
Last year’s installment was horrifyingly bad to watch, so hopefully this year’s will be a step up. Both teams have had their issues adjusting to changes at the quarterback position. So another game heavy on the defense is also a possibility. I’m leaning toward a lower-scoring close game instead of the shootouts that this rivalry has produced recently. Also, as both a Wolverines fan and a college football fan, it’s pretty sad that this rivalry is going on hiatus soon. Just felt like making that known.

Notre Dame at Purdue Boilermakers, September 14
I really don’t understand this choice. The Boilermakers aren’t as high profile a choice as the Michigan St. Spartans, but maybe ABC doesn’t want to have the same game on primetime two years in a row as the Spartans were beaten badly at home by the Irish last year under the lights.

Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio St. Buckeyes, September 28
In recent years, this game has played a big part in deciding the Big Ten conference champion or Leaders division title. This year should be no different even with their game being so early into conference play.

Ohio St. at Northwestern Wildcats, October 5
Back-to-back weeks with the Buckeyes under the lights draws the same puzzled reaction from me as the Fighting Irish’s back-to-back primetime games against the Big Ten did. They both get that reaction for the same reason: their opponent in their second straight week in primetime. I understand that not every game that a team plays can be against a team of their caliber (good or bad). I get that, but why put it on primetime? Then again, you never really know. Last year, the Buckeyes faced the Nebraska Cornhuskers under the lights and the two put up a total of 101 points and the very next week under the lights they won close against the Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 52-49. Maybe football fans will get lucky again this year.

Michigan at Penn St. Nittany Lions, October 12
The third straight week of the Big Ten on ABC primetime features what could end up being the best game of the three. This series has seen its share of really thrilling games over the last decade and my gut is telling me that if both teams are doing really good or even are undefeated at this point in the season, expect a tremendously good atmosphere to surround this game.

Penn St. at Ohio St., October 26
Last year the Nittany Lions gave the Buckeyes quite the run for the first two and a half quarters before Braxton Miller kicked his game into full gear and helped the Buckeyes run away with a win. If the Nittany Lions are able to bring the same determined team into this game as they did last year, this game could be just as intriguing to watch following kickoff as it was last year.

Phil Clark is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or check out his blog.

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