The Big Ten should be in for a competitive regular season once conference games get started in 2022. Ohio State is looking to reclaim the Big Ten throne after Michigan moved to the top of the conference last season, and Wisconsin looks to prove it should still be the top team in the Big Ten West after Iowa came out on top last fall. Penn State is looking to re-establish itself as a Big Ten contender and Michigan State hopes to stay in the mix once again this fall.
But before these Big Ten teams start going head-to-head in pivotal conference and division games, there are some fun non-conference matchups to look forward to. And we won't have to wait very long to get to the biggest game on the non-conference schedule. Trips into ACC, Pac-12, and even SEC country are among the highlights of the Big Ten non-conference schedule in 2022, but the biggest game will be played within the Big Ten footprint with a major showdown between college football bluebloods taking the spotlight in Week 1.
Most Intriguing Non-Conference Games of 2022 by Power 5 Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC
Here is a look at the 10 non-conference games the Big Ten is playing this season that carry the most intrigue.
10. Northwestern vs. Duke, Sept. 10
Northwestern and Duke have played some decent games in recent years, and we just never know what to really expect from either team as the season unfolds. But this could be a decent year for Northwestern if recent trends are any indication, and starting the year off with an early win against Duke in Week 2 could be the real indicator for how this season will play out for the Wildcats.
9. Rutgers at Boston College, Sept. 3
Greg Schiano takes Rutgers on the road to start the 2022 season against a former Big East foe, and what better way to start the new season than by scoring a road victory against an ACC team from the same basic geographic region? Rutgers also makes a short trip to Temple for another former Big East rivalry a couple of weeks later, but a road win at Boston College would be a terrific way for Schiano to spearhead things the right way in 2022.
8. Minnesota vs. Colorado, Sept. 17
Circle this game as it could very well turn into a back-and-forth matchup that flies under the radar of a loaded Week 3 slate, especially in the Big Ten. Minnesota should be the favorite at home against the Buffaloes, but we have seen Colorado put together some respectable fights as the program looks to continue to develop (just ask Texas A&M).
7. Indiana at Cincinnati, Sept. 24
Indiana and Cincinnati played a wildly entertaining game in 2021, which ended up helping propel Cincinnati into the College Football Playoff. This year, the Bearcats host Indiana as they once again look to polish off a playoff resume with a win against a Big Ten team. Will the Hoosiers play the role of spoiler and get their revenge?
6. Wisconsin vs. Washington State, Sept. 10
Wisconsin hosts Washington State in the first game of a home-and-home deal in 2022, and it could very well be a stark contrast of playing styles that will make for a fun showdown. But defense will still favor the Badgers at home in this Big Ten vs. Pac-12 crossover matchup.
5. Michigan State at Washington, Sept. 17
Mel Tucker has Michigan State in a very competitive place as a legitimate Big Ten contender, but trips to the west coast are still challenging for any Big Ten team. Tucker’s return to the Pac-12 should see his team favored, but the Huskies should put up a battle on their home turf.
4. Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, Sept. 17
Nebraska gave Oklahoma a far better fight than most anticipated the Cornhuskers would when they visited Norman last September, but the Sooners made the big plays and stops when they needed to send the Huskers home with a loss in this long-overdue renewal of a classic rivalry. Oklahoma is a much different team this time around after a wild offseason, but Nebraska still needs to find a way to turn a close game in its favor.
3. Iowa vs. Iowa State, Sept. 10
The in-state rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State continues to carry plenty of bragging rights, and it helps that both programs are on steady footing. The Hawkeyes have held the upper hand on the Cyclones under Kirk Ferentz, and that could continue again this fall. But it should be a heated battle well into the fourth quarter.
2. Penn State at Auburn, Sept. 17
Penn State and Auburn played one of the most entertaining football games in 2021, although the trajectories of both programs turned the wrong way after their September meeting. But a Big Ten team heading into SEC territory doesn't happen often, and it should once again provide a great scene for a fun matchup.
1. Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, Sept. 3
This one is a pretty easy call. Both Ohio State and Notre Dame are annual College Football Playoff contenders, and this game will start the season with a playoff vibe. Of course, it’s the regular-season head coaching debut for Notre Dame's Marcus Freeman, who played for the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, Ryan Day's team should once again be a top threat in the Big Ten and a win over the Fighting Irish would certainly set the right tone for the new season.
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