By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on August 7, 2014
A year after Michigan State upset undefeated Ohio State in the conference championship game, the Big Ten once again figures to be one of the strongest conferences in college football. Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten in 2014 to form a new super-conference, but thankfully the old rivalries will remain intact. Here are the best of the bunch.
Even if the games aren’t great, the winner of Minnesota vs. Wisconsin gets a pretty awesome prize, as the Paul Bunyan Axe is one of the best trophies in college football. Wisconsin won last year’s contest 20-7 and figures to be the favorite once again this year as the two teams meet in the last week of Big Ten play. It should be another low-scoring affair, with two offenses that like to run the ball.
With the new division setup in the Big Ten for 2014, Wisconsin and Iowa will do battle every year, just the way it should be for two of the toughest teams in the country. Wisconsin won last year’s game rather easily 28-9, but this year’s contest figures to be much more competitive. There might not be two better offensive lines going up against each other all year in college football.
Michigan State dominated last year’s game and with a team that figures contend for back-to-back conference titles, the Spartans will be heavily favored once again. The Wolverines are coming off of a disappointing season. Michigan has some intriguing offensive weapons in Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess, but “little brother” Michigan State will have one of the best defenses in the country.
The Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes have established themselves as natural rivals and both teams should be in the hunt for division titles in 2014. Iowa ran away with last year’s matchup 38-17 and the Hawkeyes will once again be favored this year. This game will also feature one of the best individual matchups all year in college football when physical freaks Brandon Scherff (Iowa) and Randy Gregory (Nebraska) go up against each other.
You were expecting something else? Ohio St. vs. Michigan remains the best rivalry in the Big Ten, if not all of college football, and if this year’s matchup is even half as exciting as last year’s version, fans will be in for a treat. The Buckeyes’ heart-stopping 42-41 victory in the Big House will go down as one of the very best editions in the storied history of this rivalry. We can only hope for more of the same this year.
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