Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Week 1 Big Ten schedule highlights

                                      Photo Credit: Geno Green

While everyone enjoys the fruits of summer vacations across the country, the aroma of charcoal grills and tailgates on Saturday afternoons in the fall are closer than you think as the first full weekend of games begin on Sept. 1.

Here are some of the key Big Ten non-conference games to watch for:

LSU vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Sept. 3, 2:30 p.m., ABC

The highly touted SEC/Big Ten debate usually gets settled in head-to-head meetings during bowl season, but things begin right out the gate with the Tigers and the Badgers.

Throw in the bonuses of these two playing at legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay and ESPN's College Gameday appearing on-site that day and we have ourselves a de facto New Year's Six game to start the season.

Despite 10 wins in 2015, the Badgers look to start 2016 on a good note after losing to another SEC school in Alabama 35-17 to begin last season.

After being ranked as high as No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, LSU finished 2015 losing three of its last five games and calls for coach Les Miles to be fired.

Both teams have plenty to prove in the opener and a win will go a long way in impressing the pollsters across the country short-term.

Hawaii at Michigan, Sept. 3, 11 a.m., ESPN

The Michigan Wolverines come into the 2016 season with lofty expectations after a 41-7 drubbing of the Florida Gators in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.

However, this matchup will be the only game on opening weekend where a team will have played in the prior week in the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (vs California, Aug. 26).

No matter how many fall practices occur, there is nothing like live game film to evaluate and Michigan should have an advantage in that department.

Expect the Wolverines to come away with a win, but do not be surprised if the final score is a bit closer than expected.

Oregon State at Minnesota, Sept. 1, 8 p.m., BTN

Oregon State's Gary Andersen returns to familiar territory as the one-time Wisconsin coach returns to TCF Bank Stadium to take on Minnesota.

Both teams could be sleepers in the Pac-12 and Big Ten races, respectively and the winner could go a long way in terms of boosting morale for later games in the 2016 season.

Minnesota hosts the opening game on its schedule for the fourth straight season. The most recent opener came on Sept. 3, 2015 as Minnesota fell to TCU 23-17 in 2015.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.