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The Big Ten's Top 15 Must-See Games of 2015

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Having two national championship contenders in your conference is one way to make sure you stay in the spotlight all season. As good as Ohio State and Michigan State are and are projected to be in 2015, the Big Ten Conference has a slate of games — both in and out of conference — that should be considered "must-see" matchups for any die-hard college football fan.


Related: Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Big Ten in 2015

The stakes will be high and the storylines will be many nearly every week in the nation's oldest conference.

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1. Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

This is more than likely a de facto College Football Playoff qualifier, as both teams are projected to have either one or no losses heading into the matchup. The winner will be in the driver's seat in the Big Ten East and probably a heavy favorite in the conference title game in Indianapolis.

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2. Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12)

This rematch of a season ago has these two "new" powers switching roles. It is the Ducks who travel across the country to play a contender with a high-profile signal-caller this time around. College Football Playoff projections will rest heavily on the outcome of this game for most of the rest of the season.

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3. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Sept. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX)

There are whispers that this could be the first rebuilding year in Tuscaloosa since Nick Saban's first campaign as coach at Alabama. We'll find out immediately, as Wisconsin shows up with an experienced, underrated defense and the same old rushing attack that has become the cornerstone of the program.

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4. Ohio State at Virginia Tech (Sept. 7)

The initial thought is that the defending champs have revenge on their minds and are ready to roll into Blacksburg and blow the house down. Common sense and history, however, tells us that the night atmosphere at Lane Stadium is always one of the most electric in the nation. Add Ohio State to that atmosphere and the fact that Virginia Tech's roster is made of primarily of players from one of the most talent-rich regions in the country, and anything is possible in this one.

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5. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 28)

If you are just looking at rosters and recent results, this game has no business being ranked this high. That said, it's still Ohio State-Michigan — not to mention Jim Harbaugh's first appearance on the sideline in this historic rivalry.

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6. Texas Christian at Minnesota (Sept. 3)

The Gophers are being touted as one of the best teams in the Big Ten West. The Horned Frogs are being touted as one of the best teams in the nation. This has statement game for both sides — and both conferences — written all over it.

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7. BYU at Nebraska (Sept. 5)

A new head coach at Nebraska faces endless questions about his team's talent and potential in his first campaign. Add in an NCAA-record home-opener winning streak on the line and one of the most electric players in the nation coming of a broken leg. Grab the popcorn.

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8. Michigan at Utah (Sept. 3)

Anytime Michigan opens on the road against a Pac-12 school, you want to watch. The fact that this is Jim Harbaugh's debut coaching his alma mater put this game at a whole different level of must-see TV.

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9. Minnesota at Ohio State (Nov. 7)

This is a rematch of a 2014 matchup that was decided by one score. Two of the best coaches in the conference — if not the country — clash in what might not be the only meeting between them in 2015.

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10. Wisconsin at Nebraska (Oct. 10)

The Badgers and the results of the recent meetings between the two teams are a large part of why Bo Pelini no longer coaches Nebraska. Wisconsin is the biggest hurdle the Huskers need to climb according to their fan base in order to get back to national relevancy. This game also will play a significant role in the division race.

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11. Michigan State at Nebraska (Nov. 7)

As good as Michigan State has been recently, the Huskers always seem to play well against them. There are a number of teams in the Big Ten West who pose a threat to Michigan State's conference title hopes. Nebraska is one of them. This should be another backyard brawl between the two.

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12. Michigan State at Michigan (Oct. 17)

The hiring of Jim Harbaugh has reignited the swagger of the Wolverine fan base. They'll be excited to show "little brother" that there's a new sheriff in town (or state), while the Spartans and their fans look forward to continuing their tradition of using Michigan as a speed bump on their way to bigger and better things.

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13. Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 17)

There will be NFL talent all over the field in this one — including possibly the first three picks of the 2016 NFL Draft. Penn State took the Buckeyes to overtime in 2014. If the Nittany Lions can protect Christian Hackenberg in this one, things could get interesting.

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14. Wisconsin at Minnesota (Nov. 28)

Given where this falls on the schedule and how good both teams are projected to be, this very well could be for a trip to the conference championship game. It will be a hard-hitting contest in what is likely to be bone-chilling conditions between two teams that nearly mirror one another.

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15. Iowa at Nebraska (Nov. 27)

This might be the most underrated border war in the conference in terms of fan intensity. The rallying cry from Iowa fans is "beat Nebraska to shut them up." In Nebraska, it's more like "We gotta beat Iowa. I mean, c'mon, it's Iowa!." There isn't much separation between the two teams heading into 2015 when you factor in both talent and coaching. Both have outside hopes of making a trip to Indianapolis the following week.

Best of the Rest:

16. Nebraska at Miami (Sept. 19)

17. Michigan at Penn State (Nov. 21)

18. BYU at Michigan (Sept. 26)

19. Nebraska at Minnesota (Oct. 17)

20. Michigan at Minnesota (Oct. 31)