Buckeyes-Spartans gets primetime slot

There has never really been any doubt about what Big Ten conference game is the biggest of the 2014 season: Ohio State at Michigan State on Nov. 8.

It's the rematch of last year's Big Ten championship game. It features two teams that should begin this season in the top 10. The game will likely have enormous ramifications, if not outright decide, the Big Ten East Division and possibly propel the winner to a league title and maybe even a College Football Playoff appearance.

So, yeah, we all know it's big. What we didn't know, until Thursday, was what time that game would be played. Now we do.

Fittingly, this heavyweight clash at Spartan Stadium will happen under the lights in primetime on ABC at 8 p.m., the schools and the network announced on Thursday.

Yep, it's another November night game for a league that had been steadfastly avoiding them the past few years. The Big Ten will have three such primetime games, as Ohio State-Michigan State joins the previously announced night kickoffs for Illinois-Ohio State (Nov. 1) and Michigan State-Maryland (8 p.m.). Times, they are a-changin'. Quite literally, in this case.

The Spartans and Buckeyes, then, should get used to playing at night in November (and possibly the cold). Ohio State fans in particular might need to increase their caffeine intake this fall. Thursday's announcement gives Urban Meyer's team five primetime kickoffs this season, with three of them at home. Ohio State has embraced night games, and this should bring plenty of exposure to the program, if possibly also creating some sleepy Sunday congregations in the Buckeye State.

Michigan State also is getting plenty of nighttime programming. Counting the Friday night opener against Jacksonville State and the West Coast kickoff at Oregon in Week 2, the Spartans will play five games in primetime as well, including league games under the lights against Nebraska (Oct. 4) and Maryland. And several other games involving Michigan State this season have yet to receive a kickoff time.

The league's two best teams -- at least on paper to start the year -- ought to get the kind of exposure that a night game brings. Their showdown in East Lansing could generate all sorts of hype if both sides live up to their potential in the first 10 weeks of the season. That Nov. 8 Saturday has a chance to be something special for college football, with Alabama-LSU, Baylor-Oklahoma and Texas A&M-Auburn among other games on the docket that day.

But the Big Ten should at least be a heavy part of the conversation that weekend, and this game might even end up being the headliner.