With less than 10 weeks to go before football returns and your weekends disappear, it’s time to do some planning. Before you begin scouring for tickets, gassing up the RV and RSVP’ing to those fall wedding invites with full regrets, let’s map out the best way to see as much high-quality Big Ten football as possible this season.
We took the liberty of putting together our ultimate road trip for the 2017 season. We focused on finding the biggest and best games each week while hitting as many campuses as possible and trying to keep the travel from getting too repetitive. We started earlier this week with September. Now it’s on to October, with November to follow soon.
Michigan State and Michigan might not have the same luster it did the last time these two teams met in the Big House, but the two rivals usually put on a good show no matter where each falls in the standings. The Wolverines should have a distinct advantage on paper this season. Then again, they had a 99.8 percent chance of beating the Spartans last time around before a last-second punt went famously awry. Adding to the intrigue this season is the possibility this game might be a rare Michigan Stadium night kickoff. The three previous prime-time starts in Ann Arbor (two against Notre Dame and one against Penn State) have been spectacles worth remembering.
The friendly confines of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium will welcome Ohio State with open arms in mid-October. New quarterback Tanner Lee should be fully settled in for the Cornhuskers by that point. So should a young secondary for the Buckeyes. If Urban Meyer’s team can get out of Lincoln with a victory, they will get a full week off to prepare for Penn State, one of only two Big Ten programs that has defeated the Buckeyes since Meyer’s arrival.
Week 8 (Oct.21) -- Penn State vs. Michigan (State College, Pennsylvania)
Before Penn State can get to that rematch, it has its own loss to avenge. Michigan embarrassed the Nittany Lions a year ago in Ann Arbor. Injury problems and an offense that had yet to click (and certainly wasn’t going to find its groove against the stingy Michigan defense) led to a 49-10 beatdown. Penn State didn’t lose again until the Rose Bowl and James Franklin’s group could very well be unbeaten again when the Wolverines come to Beaver Stadium. The school has already announced its plans to host a “White Out” game that weekend, which creates an energy that can literally shake the turf and should be on every Big Ten fan’s bucket list.
Week 9 (Oct. 28) -- Ohio State vs. Penn State (Columbus, Ohio)
If the first eight weeks of the season play out exactly as the experts in Las Vegas expect, Penn State’s trip to Ohio State will be one of the biggest college football games of the year and could (for the second year in a row) decide who plays for a conference championship and potential playoff bid. Two of the last three meetings between these teams have provided memorable drama. In 2014, the Buckeyes needed two overtimes to beat Penn State en route to a national championship. Penn State’s blocked field goal last year may have derailed Ohio State’s chance at another playoff run.