Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
Today's Take Two topic is: What's the Big Ten's showcase matchup in 2011?
Take 1: Adam Rittenberg
Before Memorial Day, this question would have been a no-brainer. The Ohio State-Nebraska game Oct. 8 in Lincoln had all the ingredients to generate a ridiculous amount of hype. Not only would it have marked Nebraska's first Big Ten home game as a league member, but Ohio State would have been welcoming back coach Jim Tressel, quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other suspended players. Now that both Tressel and Pryor are gone from the Buckeyes, this game has lost quite a bit of luster in my view. So I'm going with Nebraska-Wisconsin on Oct. 1 in Madison. It's the Huskers' Big Ten debut, and they'll be visiting a Wisconsin team now pegged as the Leaders division favorite. Wisconsin could be led by quarterback transfer Russell Wilson, which would only add intrigue. You've got red vs. red under the lights at Camp Randall. You've got "Jump Around," Bo and Bret, Dr. Tom and Barry, and two similar programs known for producing elite running backs and offensive linemen. This game has overtaken Ohio State-Nebraska as the Big Ten's showcase matchup.
Take 2: Brian Bennett
Wisconsin-Nebraska will be wild and an absolute can't-miss Big Ten game this year. However, I still think the Ohio State-Nebraska game is the showcase matchup. People are understandably down on the Buckeyes right now, but the fact remains that they have won or shared six straight Big Ten titles, vacated or not. This is the marquee program in the league until proved otherwise. Can you imagine the Sea of Red's response for the first Big Ten home game, under the lights on ABC no less? Tressel and Pryor won't be there, but Dan Herron, Mike Adams and DeVier Posey will be back, and I think there's a pretty decent chance that the Buckeyes bring a 5-0 record and a top-10 ranking into Lincoln. Winning in Madison would be huge for the Cornhuskers, but they won't feel like they've truly reached the top of their new league until they've taken down Ohio State. True, we don't exactly know what to expect from this Buckeyes team. But as Omar from "The Wire" said, "You come at the king, you best not miss."