Take Two: Big Ten's toughest 2015 schedule?

A tough schedule can be a blessing or a curse. Having the gall to play tough opponents can help a team earn major bonus points when jockeying for postseason positioning, especially in the new College Football Playoff era. The downside, of course, is you actually have to win those games to make them count.

Which program set itself up with the most chances to impress in 2015 with a tough schedule? We debate in today's Take Two:

Take 1: Dan Murphy

There's only school that will play two of the top three teams in the country (according to ESPN's preseason FPI rankings) this season -- Minnesota. The Gophers don't get to ease into their challenging slate either. They start the year with TCU, which returns Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin and is ranked third in the FPI. They follow that game with a trip to Colorado State, where the Rams went undefeated last year en route to a 10-win season.

The second rough stretch for Minnesota starts in October when it faces Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State (at the Horseshoe) in a four-week time period. The Cornhuskers and Wolverines both have exciting new coaching staffs that make them unpredictable foes in 2015. Facing the defending national championships in Columbus will be as tough of a task as any program faces this fall. Michigan State has to do the same, and has an argument for the league's toughest schedule, but starting the year with TCU gives Minnesota the edge. It won't be easy for the Gophers to continue their positive momentum this fall.

Take 2: Brian Bennett

The Gophers definitely have some serious sledding ahead. But at least they get to play in the weaker West Division. There's no such luck for Rutgers, which once again has drawn one of the most difficult Big Ten slates imaginable.

The Scarlet Knights play two Power 5 teams in the nonconference portion of the year, though they are two of the ones you'd want to face in Washington State and Kansas. And both are at home. Still, you can't blame Rutgers for not killing itself out of league play when it has to go through the Big Ten East and take on Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State.

What puts this schedule over the top, though, is the cross-division matchups against Wisconsin (on the road) and Nebraska. That's about as tough as you can draw it up, and the Scarlet Knights' late-season, four-game stretch of Ohio State (Oct. 24), at Wisconsin (Oct. 31), at Michigan (Nov. 7) and Nebraska (Nov. 14) seems like a torture chamber designed by the producers of those "Saw" movies.

Kyle Flood managed to lead the Scarlet Knights to eight victories against a similarly challenging schedule last year, and we probably haven't given them enough credit for doing so. If Rutgers can approach that type of record again, it certainly will have earned every bit of its way there.