Big Ten Football: Top 15 Must-See Games of 2019

Michigan takes on its bitter rival in the league's top game

The Big Ten has failed to send a team to the College Football Playoff in each of the last two seasons, but it’s still a very good league that ranks only behind the SEC in the national pecking order.

 

And as usual, there is plenty of intrigue in the league. Much of it surrounds Jim Harbaugh and Michigan’s attempt to finally surpass Ohio State in the East Division, but there are also some great storylines in the West, most notably centering around Nebraska’s climb back to prominence.

 

Here is our list of the top 15 games involving Big Ten teams on the 2019 college football schedule.

 

1. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30

It will be a tough blow to the Jim Harbaugh defenders (and we at Athlon Sports are included on that list) if the Wolverines drop an eighth-straight game to hated Ohio State.

Fun fact: The Ohio State game represented only 11.1 percent of Michigan’s Big Ten schedule last season, but the Wolverines allowed 37.8 percent of their points and 24.4 percent of their yards (in league games) in the loss to the Buckeyes.

 

2. Michigan at Penn State, Oct. 19

This will be the most difficult road game for the Wolverines, who are the pick by Athlon Sports and the Big Ten media to win the East Division title.

Fun fact: The home team has won three straight in the series — by scores of 49–10 (Michigan in 2016), 42–13 (Penn State in 2017) and 42–17 (Michigan in 2018).

 

3. Penn State at Ohio State, Nov. 23

Ohio State closes the regular season with a two-game stretch — Penn State at home and a trip to Michigan — that should have a huge impact on the College Football Playoff race.

Fun fact: Ohio State has rallied from double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter to beat Penn State in each of the last two years.

 

4. Notre Dame at Michigan, Oct. 26

Notre Dame is off the week prior to this short trip to Ann Arbor. Michigan plays at Penn State the week before. Advantage Notre Dame.

Fun fact: The last time both teams were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game: 1994, when No. 6 Michigan beat No. 3 Notre Dame 26–24.

 

5. Iowa at Nebraska, Nov. 29

These two programs have each made one appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. The winner of this clash could be headed to Indy.

Fun fact: Iowa has scored 31 points or more in five of the last six games against Nebraska after hitting that mark only one time in the first 33 games in the series.

 

6. Ohio State at Nebraska, Sept. 28

Lincoln will be jumping if the Cornhuskers are 5–0 (as expected) when mighty Ohio State comes calling in late September.

Fun fact: Ohio State has averaged 54.3 points in its last four games against Nebraska.

 

7. Iowa at Michigan, Oct. 5

If Iowa wins the Big Ten West, the Hawkeyes will have to get it done on the road. They play at Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska.

Fun fact: Iowa has won five of the last six against Michigan — by far its best stretch in the series — but only one of those five wins was in Ann Arbor. 

 

8. Wisconsin at Nebraska, Nov. 16

These two programs feel like they are going in opposite directions. Wisconsin can prove its doubters wrong with a win in Lincoln.

Fun fact: Wisconsin’s 70–31 win over Nebraska in the 2012 Big Ten title game (remember Legends and Leaders?) was the first of six straight wins for the Badgers in the series.

 

9. Michigan State at Michigan, Nov. 16

Momentum is swinging back to Michigan in this in-state battle, but the Spartans have won four of the last five at Michigan Stadium.

Fun fact: This is the latest this game as been played since 1928, when Michigan topped Michigan State 3–0 on Nov. 17 in Ann Arbor.

 

10. Penn State at Michigan State, Oct. 26

Both of these teams plan on contending in the Big Ten East — but that will be very difficult for the team that loses this game.

Fun fact: Penn State has lost two straight to the Spartans despite being ranked No. 7 in 2017 and No. 8 in 2018 at the time of the games.

 

11. Michigan at Wisconsin, Sept. 21

Jim Harbaugh could use a fast start to the Big Ten season. It won’t be easy: The Wolverines have lost four straight in Madison.

Fun fact: Wisconsin scored seven points or fewer in 18 of the first 22 games in the series, stretching from 1892 through 1950.

 

12. Penn State at Maryland, Sept. 27

The Terps host Penn State for a Friday night clash. The game won’t be as fierce as the James Franklin vs. Mike Locksley battles on the recruiting trail.

Fun fact: Penn State owns a 39–2–1 all-time record against Maryland, including a 3–1 mark since the Terps joined the Big Ten. The combined score of the last two games is 104–6.

 

13. Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 14

This obviously won’t impact Iowa’s chances of winning the Big Ten West title, but it’s still a huge game that is very important to the people in the state of Iowa.

Fun fact: Iowa State has never been ranked at the time of the game in the history of this series that includes 63 games and began in 1899. The Cyclones are ranked in both the AP and coaches poll to start the season.

 

14. Nebraska at Minnesota, Oct. 12

Nebraska has been the recipient of a ton of offseason hype, but Minnesota — thanks in part to a soft Big Ten schedule — should not be ruled out as a legitimate contender in the West.

Fun fact: Tom Osborne apologized after Nebraska scored 84 points against Minnesota in 1983. “I’m really sorry we scored so many points. I hope that the people up here don’t take offense. We just had players in there doing their very best.”

 

15. Purdue at Northwestern, Nov. 9

Northwestern began its march to the Big Ten West title last season with a Week 1 win at Purdue. That was the same night the nation was introduced to Purdue’s freshman sensation Rondale Moore.

Fun fact: Northwestern has won five straight and nine of the last 12 in the series. Purdue once held a 47–24 advantage against the Wildcats; it’s now 50–42.

 

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