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Big Ten West contenders seek to stand out with high-stake games

The Big Ten East is the division everybody talks about within the conference, but the West is hoping to make noise of its own in 2017. With Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northwestern in the mix for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, there are quite a few contests throughout the season that will have high stakes.

Here is a look at some of the more important ones in the West.

Nebraska at Oregon, Sept. 9

These two played in 2016 at Nebraska, where the Huskers won 35-32. This shouldn't be the same Oregon team that finished 4-8, with a new coach in Willie Taggart and quite a few starters returning from last season. This is the second game of the season for Nebraska and it's at Oregon, so winning this nonconference game would be a big, early step. A win could also help keep the Huskers' recruiting momentum in Pac-12 territory, as the staff has seen quite a bit of success in California and on the West Coast in general. Nebraska fans are hoping to see continued improvement from coach Mike Riley, and this game will be the seasons' first test.

Wisconsin at Nebraska, Oct. 7

If the season plays out as expected, this could be one factor in deciding who represents the West in the championship game. Wisconsin is the early favorite, but the game is at Nebraska and these two went back in forth last season in what was eventually an overtime win for the Badgers. Both teams have new faces looking to fill big voids, but this game should nevertheless be a exciting.

Northwestern at Nebraska, Nov. 4

Northwestern might be sneaking in under the radar this season in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are returning a ton of starters, especially on defense and maybe most importantly at quarterback with Clayton Thorson. If things go right for the Wildcats, they could play spoiler within the conference. This Northwestern defense should be a good test for the host Huskers, who will feature a new quarterback. After this game, Northwestern plays Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois, so a win here could be a big deal. Nebraska plays Minnesota and at Penn State before closing out with Iowa.

Michigan at Wisconsin, Nov. 18

The Badgers lost a close, low-scoring battle to the Wolverines last season in Ann Arbor. Missed field goals and suffocating defense gave Michigan the 14-7 win that was sealed with Jourdan Lewis' one-handed interception in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines have lost quite a bit on defense and will debut a few new faces on offense. This is the second-to-last game of the season for the Badgers, with Minnesota closing out their schedule. Michigan-Wisconsin could also carry major national implications