X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NCAA Football Big 10 Football

5 Big Ten Out-of-Conference Games That Will Impact National Championship Race

1 of 11

5 Big Ten Out-of-Conference Games That Will Impact National Championship Race

National Championship Game Race
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has not been represented in the National Championship since 2008, when Ohio State faced off with LSU. However, the conference will always be in the thick of the title race each season, whether it is contending for a spot or spoiling the opportunity for others.

Here are the top five out-of-conference games that Big Ten squads have scheduled that will play a part in deciding who gets to hoist the trophy next January.

5. Cincinnati at Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Football
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

5. Cincinnati at Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Football
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

With Braxton Miller returning and Ohio State coming off a season where it just fell short of the big goal, the Buckeyes will be a deadly combination of talent and motivation in 2014. However, in-state rival Cincinnati has likely had this game circled for a while, and the game's 6:00 p.m. kickoff could mean disaster for OSU. Should they need an extra scare, Urban Meyer may want to call in the hoops team to ask them about Dayton.

4. Michigan at Notre Dame

Michigan Football at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

4. Michigan at Notre Dame

Michigan Football at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame lost its 2013 starter at QB, but 2012 starter Everett Golson will retur, who led the team to the National Championship. That being said, the Fighting Irish will put a lot on the line in Week 2 under the lights against Michigan, with dates with Florida State and Stanford looming later in the year. This game will also serve as the last time these old rivals will battle for the foreseeable future after Notre Dame opted to end the series.

3. Virginia Tech at Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Football Out-of-Conference
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

3. Virginia Tech at Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Football Out-of-Conference
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech lost its starting QB Logan Thomas to graduation, but the Hokies will still pose a threat to the Buckeyes in Week 2 during a prime time game under the lights in Columbus. Frank Beamer's teams are consistently among the nation's leaders in special teams play, which could serve as a deciding factor if Ohio State lets them hang around for too long.

2. LSU vs. Wisconsin (At NRG Stadium in Houston)

Wisconsin Football Out-of-Conference
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2. LSU vs. Wisconsin (At NRG Stadium in Houston)

Wisconsin Football Out-of-Conference
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Both LSU and Wisconsin are expected to be among the leaders of their respective conferences, making this opening week game in Houston a big statement opportunity for both programs. The Tigers and Badgers also feature similar rushing attacks that should provide for a real bruiser of a game. It's not often that the Big Ten and SEC square off in the regular season, and this one could certainly help propel the winner into the title race.

1. Michigan State at Oregon

Michigan State Football Out-of-Conference
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Michigan State at Oregon

Michigan State Football Out-of-Conference
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most highly-anticipated games of the early season slate, Michigan State and Oregon are expected to be front-runners for the title and ranked in the top 10 when they fight for conference supremacy Week 2 in Eugene. The Spartans' unrelenting defense and the Ducks' explosive offense will prove as serious tests for both sides of the ball.