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Michigan vs. Notre Dame is top Big 10 game of Week 2

Week Two in the Big Ten basically is a yawner -- except for a Saturday-night game in Ann Arbor.

Michigan-Notre Dame is one of the three biggest games of the weekend nationally, and it features one of the five best individual matchups of the season (keep reading).

One of the biggest storylines of the early season has been that this is the next-to-last Michigan-Notre Dame game scheduled, and there are a lot of folks boo-hooing about how a great traditional rivalry is going away. Yes, the teams have played some memorable games of late, but this is not a traditional or historic rivalry. The teams met only twice between 1910 and 1978. This will be just the 41st meeting in the series and Saturday's game will be the 12th year in a row the teams have met, which is the longest consecutive streak in series history.

The other games involving league teams Saturday? Ehhh. Still, here is a look at all the contests involving conference teams anyway, ranked from worst to best:

12. Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 0 stars

The skinny: It's blowout time in Madison. Tennessee Tech has played 10 games against FBS opponents in the past seven seasons; the Golden Eagles have allowed 461 points and scored only 58 in those matchups (average score: 46-6). Tech's busiest player in this one might be senior P Chad Zinchini, who has a big leg (44.8 yards per punt last season) and could get an NFL opportunity. Last season against Oregon, he had three punts of 50-plus yards and downed four inside the Ducks' 20. The Badgers had three tailbacks (James White, Melvin Gordon and true freshman Corey Clement) rush for at least 100 yards in last week's rout of Massachusetts; that should happen again.

11. Missouri State at Iowa, Saturday, 12:01 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 0 stars

The skinny: Missouri State's coach is Terry Allen, the former Iowa State coach; Allen's dad, Robert, was Iowa's swim coach for 16 years. Missouri State is 1-28 all-time against FBS opponents. Bears senior WR Dorian Buford (6 feet, 184 pounds) is one of the better receivers in the FCS ranks. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is feeling the heat, and it will be white-hot if the Hawkeyes lose this.

10. Indiana State at Purdue, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 0 stars

The skinny: Indiana State allowed 73 points in losing to Indiana last week; this week, the Sycamores get the other Big Ten team from the Hoosier State. Purdue was hammered by Cincinnati last week, and it's vital that the Boilermakers get their rushing attack going. Indiana State's offense has some talent, most notably senior RB Shakir Bell (5-8, 185), who ran for 113 on Indiana last week.

9. Eastern Michigan at Penn State, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: Eastern Michigan rallied from 11 down in the third quarter to beat Howard, a FCS program, last week. And EMU is 0-31 all-time against Big Ten schools; the Eagles are not going to snap that streak in this game. Can EMU stymie Penn State's Christian Hackenberg-Allen Robinson connection? EMU FS Mycal Swaim has intriguing size (6-4, 212), and he'll get a chance to show off for scouts this week.

8. USF at Michigan State, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: USF was crushed -- crushed -- by a FCS team last week, and as inept as the Bulls' offense looked in that one, you wonder if they can get to 10 points against the defense-minded Spartans. As for Michigan State's offense, perhaps going against a team that surrendered 53 points to a FCS team will help. Keep an eye on highly touted USF sophomore DE Aaron Lynch (6-6, 244), a Notre Dame transfer. He basically did nothing last week. But in 2011 against the Spartans while at Notre Dame, he had five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries.

7. Minnesota at New Mexico State, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network 2Go

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: New Mexico State's defense was torched to the tune of 56 points and 715 yards by Texas last week. Minnesota isn't in Texas' class, and the Gophers could use a soft defensive touch after gaining only 320 yards in last week's win over UNLV. Minnesota has to get its passing game going. New Mexico State is riding a 12-game losing streak, but did beat Minnesota in Minneapolis in 2011.

6. Southern Miss at Nebraska, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: The longest losing streak in the nation? It's Southern Miss', which is at 13. Nebraska's defense was scorched to the tune of 602 yards, including 383 through the air, in a 38-35 win over Wyoming last week. Southern Miss QB Allen Bridgford, a transfer from California, threw for 377 yards in a loss to Texas State last week. Southern Miss senior DT Khyri Thornton (6-3, 300) can improve his draft stock with a good outing against a solid Nebraska offensive line.

5. San Diego State at Ohio State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional/ESPN2

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: San Diego State was supposed to be a contender in the Mountain West, but the Aztecs opened by getting hammered by 22 in a loss to FCS foe Eastern Illinois. Ohio State's offensive line didn't pass block all that well last week in a win over Buffalo. SDSU expects RB Adam Muema, a 1,458-yard rusher last season, to play this week; he was hampered last week by an ankle injury. The Aztecs have no shot at even keeping it close unless Muema has a big game.

4. Navy at Indiana, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: This is Navy's opener, and the Midshipmen's triple-option offense should have success against IU's bad defense. The flipside: Expect the Hoosiers to pile up the passing yards. IU's receiving corps, headed by junior Cody Latimer (6-3, 215), is the best in the Big Ten. Senior TE Ted Bolser (6-6, 252) could have a field day against Navy's linebackers and safeties.

3. Syracuse at Northwestern, Saturday, 6 p.m., ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: Northwestern QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark are injured and may miss the game; the Wildcats won with Colter playing only two snaps and Mark playing sparingly at Cal last week, though. Syracuse needs to run effectively to win, which means Northwestern LBs Damien Proby, Chi Chi Ariguzo and Collin Ellis could be busy. Can Syracuse handle Northwestern DE Tyler Scott, who tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks last season?

2. Cincinnati at Illinois, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: Illinois beat FCS foe Southern Illinois in a shootout last week, which bodes ill this week against Cincinnati's varied offense. Two good linebackers will be on display in Cincinnati's Greg Blair (the brother of NBA player DeJuan Blair) and Illinois' Jonathan Brown. Illinois allowed five sacks last week, but Cincy doesn't have an established pass rusher.

1. Notre Dame at Michigan, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Rating: 4 stars

The skinny: That this is the penultimate game in this series means there could be some bad blood, which should make the game even more intense than usual. In fact, Michigan athletic director David Brandon said Wednesday that the only way these teams play in the future is in a bowl or a "random" neutral-site game. As for this contest, can Michigan's inexperienced interior offensive line deal with Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III? That seems unlikely. One of the best individual matchups of the season will take place when Michigan senior OT Taylor Lewan (6-8, 315) goes against Notre Dame junior DE Stephon Tuitt (6-6, 322). Lewan should go extremely early in the 2014 draft, and Tuitt is a potential early pick, too. Tuitt had a sack, a forced fumble and four tackles vs. Michigan last season. The Irish would love to make Michigan QB Devin Gardner beat them with his arm. Notre Dame's secondary is better than Michigan's receiving corps unless the Wolverines can use play-action.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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