Recently, the Big Ten was forced to take a backseat to the SEC, with Florida and Alabama dominating the world of college football. But Big Ten fans will be rewarded for their patience this season.
Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State are all ranked in the Top 25 in college football polls to start the season, and the Big Ten is looking like a powerhouse conference once again.
Whether your wardrobe is mostly maize and blue or scarlet and gray, the Big Ten schedule is packed with some serious matchups.
The 2010 season will not only showcase the Big Ten's rich tradition of intense rivalries, but it will also demonstrate how the Big Ten stacks up against other dominate conferences.
Here is a list of the top 10 must-watch Big Ten games this season.
The Boilermakers will open their season in South Bend as they take on the Fighting Irish on September 4th. Purdue is coming off a 5-7 season, but they were able to pull off a win over a strong Ohio State team.
Notre Dame is looking to start their season strong with a win over Purdue in order to gain momentum going into a schedule that is significantly more difficult than last year's.
But don't write off the Boilermakers just yet. Notre Dame has lost Golden Tate and arguably one of the best quarterbacks in school history, Jimmy Clausen, and even the addition of new head coach Brian Kelly won't buy the Irish a competitive defense.
Purdue has yet to see how transfer quarterback Robert Marve will perform as a Boilermaker, but a semi-decent Purdue offense should have no problem getting past the Irish.
First, let's get this out of the way:
"Who the hell is Central Michigan?"
Central Michigan University has dominated the MAC since 2006 with record-breaking quarterback Dan LeFevour (drafted in the sixth round by the Bears this year). While the MAC may have not offered Central Michigan much competition, there is no arguing the abilities of the Chippewa offense.
Northwestern has (by far) the easiest schedule in the Big Ten, and the Wildcats are expected to come out of their non-conference games 4-0.
While it is understood that the Big Ten simply has more talent than the MAC, we shouldn't be too quick to write off the Chippewa.
Even though last year's battle for bragging rights and the Paul Bunyan trophy was won by the Spartans, an improved Wolverines squad should give Michigan State a run for their money.
This is an "all or nothing" season for the Wolverines, so expect some drama at the Big House.
Michigan State versus Michigan always makes for a good game, and this year should be no different.
To Penn State fans, this one is a no-brainer. Many have already written a big "W" on September 25th, but Temple is good. Really good.
The Owls return six All-MAC defensive players, and we cannot ignore their Heisman candidate, running back Bernard Pierce. If Temple can pull off a win against the Nittany Lions, they will win the respect of the college football world.
That being said: Penn State will probably win here.
But it won't be as big of a blowout as most might think. This is sure to be one of the most exciting games this season.
The Michigan/Ohio State rivalry has its own HBO documentary.
It makes no difference where these two teams are ranked. We can always expect this game to be bitter and action-packed. These teams hate each other. Period.
And that isn't changing anytime soon.
This is going to be a tough one for the Nittany Lions. The Crimson Tide are the reining national champions, and they are ranked at the top of every preseason college football poll.
And Penn State will have to travel down south in the beginning of September. We have some hot summers up north, but most of us would stroke out running around in the Tuscaloosa heat.
Still, Penn State has the burden of representing the Big Ten, and a win over Alabama will definitely shake up college football rankings.
There is no doubt that this is a must-watch football game.
The Buckeyes have developed a pretty ugly rivalry with the Canes, and this year, Miami will take on Ohio State in Columbus early in the season.
Ohio State has been criticized for scheduling easy non-conference games, but this is obviously not the case here.
This game will be dirty. This game will be violent.
And we will love every second of it.
This will be one of the most difficult games for Ohio State this season as they travel north to take on the Badgers. Both of these teams are ranked in the Top 25, and this prime time game will gain national attention on ESPN.
Expect this to be a close one.
After a home game against Ohio State, the Badgers will travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.
Even though Ohio State is ranked the highest in the Big Ten (and second in the nation), Wisconsin and Iowa want to prove that they too are contenders for a title.
Expect the winner of this game to compete with Ohio State for the Big Ten title.
This is the biggest game of the season for both of these teams. Ohio State has the advantage of a high preseason ranking, but the Hawkeyes will have the homefield advantage.
Iowa has a fairly easy schedule this year (playing their biggest games at home), but they will need to step it up against the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes.
No matter what, this game will be down and dirty Big Ten football.
And we wouldn't want it any other way.
Which games will you tune in for this season?