Top Big Ten game of Week 3 features Nebraska Cornhuskers

Hey, it's as if the Rose Bowl is being played in September!

OK, we admit it: That's stretching things a bit, but there are four Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups this weekend, and each of the four is among the best 10 games of the weekend nationally. The outcomes could end up helping one of the leagues make the case that it is the nation's second-best league this season.

One of the best individual matchups of the weekend will happen in one of the Big Ten/Pac-12 games. Read on to find out the players and the game.

Here is a look at all the contests this week involving conference teams, ranked from worst to best:

12. Western Illinois at Minnesota, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 0 stars

The skinny: Minnesota needs to get its passing attack untracked, and perhaps the Leathernecks, an FCS program, will be accommodating in that regard. This is the third of four non-conference games for Minnesota, none of which features a "Big Six" conference opponent. WIU does have a player with one of the better names in college football: WR Hi-C Scott. Indeed, he goes by Hi-C rather than his given name of Hussein.

11. Akron at Michigan, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 0 stars

The skinny: Akron has won four games since the beginning of the 2010 season. The Wolverines should roll; the question is when QB Devin Gardner takes a seat for the day. Michigan is 32-1 all-time vs. MAC teams and has won 16 in a row at home, the nation's longest current streak.

10. Western Michigan at Northwestern, Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: Western Michigan is bad, though SS/OLB Johnnie Simon (6-feet, 197 pounds) has the talent to be a third-day draft selection. Northwestern DE Tyler Scott tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks last season and could add a couple of sacks to his total this season on Saturday.

9. Notre Dame at Purdue, Saturday, 8 p.m., ET, ABC

Rating: 1.5 stars

The skinny: This will be the 85th meeting between the in-state rivals; that's the most Notre Dame has played against any Big Ten school. The Irish have won five in a row in the series, though they needed to score on the final drive for the win last season. There should be some excellent individual matchups between Notre Dame guards Chris Watt and Christian Lombard and Purdue DT Bruce Gaston, who has All-Big Ten talent. Purdue's rushing attack has been atrocious, and if the Boilermakers want to keep this close, they need to rush for at least 150 yards.

8. Youngstown State at Michigan State, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: This is mildly interesting because of the ineptitude of Michigan State's offense through the first two games (just two offensive touchdowns). Youngstown State C Chris Elkins is one of the best at his position in the FCS ranks, and he will be going against a deep and talented Spartans defensive front. Youngstown's coaching staff is filled with former FBS coaches and assistants; the head coach is Eric Wolford, who has been an assistant at South Carolina, Illinois and Arizona, and among his assistants are Mark Mangino, Joe Tresey, Shane Montgomery and Kurt Beathard.

7. Bowling Green at Indiana, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: Indiana's high-powered offense will be going against a solid Bowling Green defense. The question, as it is in almost every Hoosiers game, is whether IU's defense can hold anyone under 30 points. Indiana's wide receivers will test Bowling Green SS Jerry "Boo Boo" Gates, who will have a chance to impress scouts (or not) with his coverage ability. This also is a chance for Bowling Green OLB/S Gabe Martin to make an impact. This is an important game for IU's bowl hopes -- as in if the Hoosiers want to go bowling, it would behoove them to win.

6. Iowa at Iowa State, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Rating: 2.5 stars

The skinny: Call it the "Children of the Corn Classic." The heat is on Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, and it would be even hotter if the Hawkeyes lose to the Cyclones for the third consecutive time. Iowa OT Brandon Scherff is a big-timer. An aside: The Cotton brothers could end up going against each other. Jordan Cotton is an Iowa wide receiver and Darian Cotton is an Iowa State cornerback.

5. UCF at Penn State, Saturday, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network

Rating: 3.5 stars

The skinny: UCF junior Blake Bortles is one of the best quarterbacks Penn State will see this season, but the Nittany Lions still want to make Bortles beat them with his arm because their secondary should be able to handle UCF's receivers. Penn State senior DT DeQuan Jones is playing at a high level, and he and MLB Glenn Carson need to control UCF's rushing attack. Penn State G John Urschel vs. UCF DT E.J. Dunston should be a good individual matchup. A big advantage for Penn State is that UCF's corners are not going to be able to handle Nittany Lions WR Allen Robinson.

4. Illinois vs. Washington (in Chicago), Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Rating: 3.5 stars

The skinny: This game suddenly has a lot of appeal. Illinois has been a big surprise, thanks to senior Nathan Scheelhaase finally understanding what it takes to be a solid all-around quarterback. He is throwing the ball better than at any time in his career. Illini LB Jonathan Brown needs to make sure Washington RB Bishop Sankey doesn't take over; Sankey has five 100-yard games in his past six outings. While Scheelhaase is playing well, Washington QB Keith Price has more help. Keep an eye on Huskies sophomore Shaq Thompson, who was perhaps the nation's best high school safety in 2011 and has made a seamless move to outside linebacker; he runs well and hits a ton.

3. Ohio State at California, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox

Rating: 3.5 stars

The skinny: QB Braxton Miller's health has added a layer of intrigue to this game, but the Buckeyes appear to have way too much offensive talent for the Golden Bears -- even if Miller isn't 100 percent. The more intriguing storyline is whether a touted Buckeyes secondary featuring CB Bradley Roby, the nation's best at his position, and touted safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant can slow Cal's passing attack. Golden Bears true freshman QB Jared Goff leads the nation in passing yards (935), and WRs Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper can impress NFL scouts if they have productive games against the Buckeyes' secondary. Cal NT Deandre Coleman (6-5, 315) is quite the physical specimen, but he has been called out by Cal coach Sonny Dykes for lack of production. He will be going against solid C Corey Linsley (recovering from foot surgery) and standout Gs Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall on Saturday.

2. Wisconsin at Arizona State, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Rating: 4 stars

The skinny: Wisconsin hasn't allowed a point in two games. Alas, the Badgers finally will be facing a real, live offense this week. Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly runs a version of the spread and he will look to take advantage of a Wisconsin secondary that has three new starters this season. The Badgers have switched to a 3-4 set, and OLBs Ethan Armstrong and Brendan Kelly will be under pressure. The best individual matchup? That's easy: Badgers G Ryan Groy vs. Arizona State DT Will Sutton in one of the top battles of the entire weekend. Groy is a big, physical road-grader; Sutton is squatty but ultra-quick for a 305-pounder. Wisconsin's massive offensive line also will do its best to keep Arizona State big-play LB Carl Bradford from mucking up things.

1. UCLA at Nebraska, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ABC

Rating: 5 stars

The skinny: This is the best of the four Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups. UCLA's offense torched Nebraska's defense last season, and you wonder if the "Blackshirts" are going to be left red-faced again. Nebraska's linebackers are young and inexperienced, and UCLA QB Brett Hundley will look to make them pay. UCLA, on the other hand, has an experienced linebacker corps, and you can bet the Huskers will want to know where OLB Anthony Barr is on every snap. Huskers QB Taylor Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah are a potent 1-2 rushing duo, and if the Huskers can run effectively, Martinez is a solid-enough passer -- and has enough weapons on the outside -- to take advantage of UCLA's young corners.

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

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content