Big Ten Football: Top 5 Must-See Non-Conference Games

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Big Ten Football: Top 5 Must-See Non-Conference Games

In just more than a month, tailgate parties will kick off and fans will pack the stands, as teams will get the first chance to prove their worth in 2012.

It is also an opportunity for conferences to flex their guns early on in the season. The SEC will certainly relish the occasion, waiting to show, yet again, where the heavyweights of football reside.

For the Big Ten, it is a chance to shake its bad offseason publicity and recent bowl game nightmares. Conference commissioner Jim Delany is surely tired of seeing the Big Ten being paired with Jerry Sandusky in the news headlines.

A reminder of his teams' 34-52 record in bowl games since 2000 is also a thorn in Delany's side.

Nevertheless, a new season brings a fresh breeze of hope for the "Monsters of the Midwest."

Head coach Brady Hoke has Michigan back in the national spotlight, as this appears to be the best team Ann Arbor has seen since Lloyd Carr left town.

Many have picked the Wolverines to win the Big Ten this season, but perennial powerhouses Alabama and Notre Dame will be the first to test the strength of the "Maize and Blue."

The non-conference schedule will also serve as a launching point for the Heisman campaigns of Michigan's Denard Robinson and Wisconsin's Montee Ball. In addition, new coaches Tim Beckman, Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien will get an opportunity to get their feet wet and to win over their fanbases before the conference slate.

There is plenty to look forward to in the beginning weeks of the season.

Here are the top five must-see games of the Big Ten non-conference schedule.

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