We're putting together the ultimate Big Ten road trip for 2012. What one game could we attend each week if we had our choice (and an unlimited travel expense account, natch).
We'll both pick a game for each week of the season, though it's important to note that this is not our actual travel itinerary. But it would be pretty cool if it was.
We covered Week 1 on Tuesday. Let's take a look at the Week 2 slate:
Illinois at Arizona State
Indiana at UMass
Iowa State at Iowa
Air Force at Michigan
Michigan State at Central Michigan
New Hampshire at Minnesota
Nebraska at UCLA
Vanderbilt at Northwestern
UCF at Ohio State
Penn State at Virginia
Purdue at Notre Dame
Wisconsin at Oregon State
Brian Bennett's pick: Penn State at Virginia
Some really interesting games on tap in Week 2, which looks like the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already started their partnership. I sure wouldn't turn down a chance to go to Tempe, Ariz., or Los Angeles. The Air Force-Michigan game is intriguing because of the styles of play, and I'm interested to see if Purdue has really turned a corner and can hang with the Irish in South Bend.
But ultimately, I want to see what the new-look Nittany Lions are all about under Bill O'Brien. We probably won't learn that much about them in the opener when they play Ohio (the Bobcats, not Brady Hoke's "Ohio") at home. A road game at Virginia -- which won eight games a year ago and seems to be improving under Mike London should tell us a lot more. I want to see if Penn State can put together a competent passing offense under O'Brien, and how the team responds in an unfriendly environment. This could be the toughest nonconference game on the Lions' schedule, so a win here could set them up for a really strong start to the season. And Charlottesville is not a bad place to be on a late summer weekend.
Adam Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska at UCLA
Penn State-Virginia is a good call, BB, and it's an interesting week with a lot of good/intriguing games, but no truly great ones. I'm also going to venture outside of Big Ten country and visit one of our favorite destinations, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Nebraska faces an interesting nonconference game against a UCLA team that will be playing its first home game under new coach Jim Mora. The UCLA fan base will be fired up for this one after the program's recent struggles, and the Bruins should provide an interesting challenge for Nebraska.
Big Ten teams often struggle when making long trips to the West Coast early in the season. This will be a trend to follow when the Big Ten-Pac-12 scheduling partnership really heats up, although we've got three Big Ten squads traveling west in Week 2 (Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin). Nebraska will be favored in this game, but the Huskers need to deliver a disciplined, efficient effort on the road, where they were blown out by both Wisconsin and Michigan in 2011. This game could really provide some momentum for Bo Pelini's squad before Big Ten play. It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, a Corona, Calif., native, as well as other Californians like defensive end Cameron Meredith.
This is one of those weeks that could go either way for the Big Ten. There are some games the Big Ten should win, some the league should lose, and some that could go either way. I wouldn't mind ending up in Charlottesville, Tempe, Corvallis or South Bend, but my top choice is to be in that majestic stadium, watching the sun set over the San Gabriel Mountains.
Previously on the road trip ...
Week 1: Adam at Boise State-Michigan State, Brian at Michigan-Alabama.