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Badgers, ’Huskers top week one slate

September 30, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

After officially becoming a member of the Big Ten in July, Nebraska's Cornhuskers make their conference debut on the gridiron Saturday night.

Coach Bo Pelini's club was cut no slack by schedule makers. Big Red opens at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison where the Wisconsin Badgers await in a nationally televised (8 p.m.) kickoff.

Nebraska has a rich football history, having captured five national crowns (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).

The Lincoln-based school has produced 107 All-Americans, three Heisman Trophy winners and numerous other national honors.

One week from Saturday, Nebraska hosts its first Big Ten game when Ohio State invades.

It's not inconceivable, the Badgers and Huskers could vie again when the Big Ten stages its initial Championship Game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.

With the beginning of divisional play this season, the conference has instituted a new tie-breaker to determine title game participants, if necessary.

Following head-to-head matchups, the next tie-breaker is records within the division, which makes winning divisional games most important.

The opening weekend of conference play features two divisional games - a Legends Division showdown between Michigan and Minnesota and a Leaders Division encounter between Indiana and Penn State.

The last week of non-conference play, Big Ten teams compiled an 8-2 record with Indiana and Minnesota sustaining setbacks against North Texas and North Dakota State, respectively.

Here's our outlook on this weekend's conference openers.

Iowa has a bye week.

MINNESOTA (1-3) AT MICHIGAN (4-0). The struggling Gophers have little chance of turning things around in the Big House where Brady Hoke's unbeaten ballclub should roll. Wolverines, 38-14.

PENN ST. (3-1) AT INDIANA (1-3).

Joe Pa and company put together four solid quarters in their final non-conference tuneup last week, routing Eastern Michigan.

Though Hoosiers return home, the results should not be surprising. Nittany Lions, 27-17.

NORTHWESTERN (2-1) AT ILLINOIS (4-0). Should be entertaining affair where Ron Zook's ranked Illini need to protect the home turf. ILLINI, 30-27.

MICHIGAN STATE (3-1) AT OHIO STATE (3-1) - We foresee a low-scoring chess match here with OSU finding a way to prevail. Buckeyes, 17-13.

NOTRE DAME (2-2) AT PURDUE (2-1) - Fighting Irish appear to have righted ship and should continue to make positive strides in rival game with Boilers at West Lafayette. Irish, 30-20.

NEBRASKA (4-0) AT WISCONSIN (4-0) - Great showcase matchup before a sea of red at Camp Randall. Badgers are in for a test, but one they should pass. Badgers, 27-21.



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