There are only two weeks left in our Big Ten ultimate road trip, and yet we somehow feel surprisingly fresh. We haven't missed a single airline connection or gotten stuck in any game-day traffic.
We're all the way to Week 12 in our choices for where we'd be each week if granted the magical power of formulating our own travel itinerary. That means it's the penultimate week of the Big Ten regular season, and the stakes are sure to be sky high in several circles. Let's check out the options.
Week 12 games:
Purdue at Illinois
Indiana at Penn State
Iowa at Michigan
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Northwestern at Michigan State
Minnesota at Nebraska
Brian's pick: Ohio State at Wisconsin
I called this the Big Ten's top must-see game in a video last week, so naturally this is my choice. I stated all the reasons why in that video, but it's pretty obvious. Not only is this a pretty light week in terms of marquee matchups (at least on preseason paper), but this will be the first meeting between Bret Bielema and Urban Meyer since their little recruiting dustup in February. Both coaches will almost certainly say there are no hard feelings in the leadup to this game, but each has been known to try to stomp on the throat of an opponent who has ticked his off in some way.
Meyer will definitely want to send a message to the Badgers, who have gone to the past two Rose Bowls and are the reigning Leaders Division champs. But the game is in Madison, where Wisconsin never loses, and where the Buckeyes lost the last time they were ranked No. 1 two years ago. And Bielema's team is still smarting from last year's gut-wrenching loss in Columbus. Montee Ball and Braxton Miller provide all the star power you need, and even without a division title in play for probation-riddled Ohio State, this game has been circled on my calendar since signing day.
Adam's pick: Ohio State at Wisconsin
I wish I could quit you, Bennett, but alas, we'll be together for the second consecutive week. This game is simply too good to pass up. Even without the post-signing day sniping, this matchup has plenty of great plotlines. If Meyer can get a victory at Camp Randall Stadium in his first attempt, he'll send a message not only to Wisconsin but to the division and the rest of the Big Ten that Ohio State will be the team to beat in 2013. Wisconsin, meanwhile, could be closing in on a division championship and will be looking to defend its home turf against what is quickly becoming its biggest non-regional rival.
The Bielema-Meyer saga only adds some extra spice to an appetizing dish. Bielema has been accused, often unfairly, of running up scores. And if Ohio State has a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, I don't see Meyer pulling his starters. The coaches can say things have been smoothed over, but Meyer was really seething after Bielema's comments. Ball and Miller add star power, and I'm also interested to see how both defenses perform. Ohio State dominated much of last year's meeting before letting down late in the game and needing a furious comeback in the final moments. Wisconsin has been so tough at home, and the Badgers likely will have more at stake because of the Buckeyes' bowl ban. We talk about new Big Ten rivalries all the time, and this one is at or near the top of the list. Meet you in Mad-town.
Previously on the road trip ...
Week 1: Adam at Boise State-Michigan State, Brian at Michigan-Alabama
Week 2: Brian at Penn State-Virginia, Adam at Nebraska-UCLA
Week 3: Adam at Notre Dame-Michigan State, Brian at Cal-Ohio State
Week 4: Brian at Michigan-Notre Dame, Adam at Michigan-Notre Dame
Week 5: Adam at Wisconsin-Nebraska, Brian at Ohio State-Michigan State
Week 6: Brian at Nebraska-Ohio State, Adam at Nebraska-Ohio State
Week 7: Brian at Iowa-Michigan State, Adam at Wisconsin-Purdue
Week 8: Adam at Michigan State-Michigan, Brian at Michigan State-Michigan
Week 9: Brian at Michigan-Nebraska, Adam at Michigan State-Wisconsin
Week 10: Adam at Illinois-Ohio State, Brian at Penn State-Purdue
Week 11: Brian at Penn State-Nebraska, Adam at Penn State-Nebraska