With apologies to the Eastern/Western/Central Michigans and Dakota FCS schools of the world, the good stuff is finally here in the Big Ten.
Week 5 brings us the arrival of conference play at long last. And the first week in no way disappoints, with perhaps the league's game of the year on tap. There are five conference games in all, and the one nonconference game is a traditional rivalry. Here's a quick preview of a Saturday that can't come fast enough (all times ET):
No. 8 Nebraska (4-0) at No. 7 Wisconsin (4-0), 8 p.m. (ABC): We talked about this game all offseason, and we'll have plenty to say about it this week. Nebraska plays its first Big Ten game in what should be an unbelievable, "GameDay"-stoked atmosphere, with league supremacy on the line. It could also be a preview of the Big Ten title matchup in Indianapolis. Other than that, it's just another game.
Michigan State (3-1) at Ohio State (3-1), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional): The fact that both these teams stubbed their toes in the nonconference schedule doesn't make this game less interesting. In fact, I'd say it's more intriguing because of it. The winner will feel like it's right back on track, while the loser will be scrambling. The Spartans have lost seven straight to the Buckeyes and haven't won in Columbus since 1998.
Northwestern (2-1) at No. 24 Illinois (4-0), Noon (ESPN2): Come on, feel the Illinoise. Dan Persa should be back for the Land of Lincoln Trophy battle, and the Wildcats had an extra week to prepare. Can Illinois keep up its best start in more than half a century?
Minnesota (1-3) at No. 19 Michigan (4-0), Noon (Big Ten Network): The Gophers just lost to North Dakota State and now have to play a team they've only beaten once since 1987. This is the first meeting between the two since 2008. Marqueis Gray and Denard Robinson are two of the best athletes playing quarterback anywhere in the country, assuming Gray is still the starter this week for Minnesota.
Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (1-3), Noon (ESPNU): Has Joe Paterno settled on a starting quarterback? Will it even matter who plays quarterback against a Hoosiers team that is a long way from competing against the better Big Ten teams?
Notre Dame (2-2) at Purdue (2-1), 8 p.m. (ESPN): The Boilermakers had a bye week to get ready and really need this victory if they want to go bowling. They've lost five of the last six against the Irish, but Brian Kelly's team sure likes to give away the ball this year.