Must-see TV: Rating the best Big Ten football games to watch in 2022
The Big Ten released this year’s television broadcast schedule on Thursday.
It’s not a comprehensive list. Many of the game times will be announced during the season. But it’s a start. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a reminder that football season isn’t as far away as it feels right now.
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) May 26, 2022
If you’ve got the inclination to start programming your DVR this instant, we’ve got your back. Consider this your week-by-week guide to the most watchable games on the Big Ten schedule.
Nebraska vs. Northwestern (in Dublin, Ireland)
When: 12:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 27, FOX
It takes a pretty crazy set of circumstances to make a matchup Nebraska won 56-7 last season must-see TV. But that’s exactly what we have here.
First, it’s Week 0. There aren’t many college football games on the docket. Much like the first week of the NFL preseason, you’re just happy to have it there.
But in this case, it’s the where that makes this game interesting. The Cornhuskers and Wildcats are playing at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. There figures to be a bowl-game atmosphere as fans of both teams will make the trip. Plus, the X-factor of how many locals show up and how rowdy they’ll get makes this far more interesting than the typical Cats-Huskers matchup.
Irish fans make golf tournaments fun. What are they going to do at a college football game?
Notre Dame at Ohio State
When: Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m., ABC
This is always going to be an interesting matchup, but the added element of being Marcus Freeman’s first regular-season game at Notre Dame takes it up another notch.
After a full offseason being around a coach who is not Brian Kelly, I suspect the Fighting Irish will have some pep in their step opening night.
Freeman’s defense will be tested against CJ Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and TreVeyon Henderson. And we will see what wrinkles new Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles adds to avoid a repeat of last year’s marquee non-conference game against Oregon.
Iowa State at Iowa
When: Sept. 10, 4 p.m., BTN
On the weakest week of this season’s schedule, the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy stands alone.
Whether it will actually be a great game is another matter. Even with some of the best teams in Iowa State history, Matt Campbell has yet to record a win over the Hawkeyes. And the Cyclones are losing a ton of talent from last year’s veteran squad.
Nevertheless, I like the odds of this being more watchable than Rutgers vs. Wagner.
Oklahoma at Nebraska
When: Sept. 17, Noon, FOX
Penn State at Auburn
When: Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m., CBS
SMU at Maryland
When: Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., FS1
Why settle for watching a single game when you can have ALL-DAY FOOTBALL!?
Week 3 is the first on this year’s schedule that really delivers.
The renewal of ancient rivalries is good for the game, period. Last year’s Oklahoma-Nebraska game lived up to the hype. The Cornhuskers surprised most observers by not getting run off the field and probably should have won the game if not for special teams miscues. They’ll have a very real chance to pick off the Sooners in Lincoln.
From there, you can roll right into another great matchup.
Auburn’s trip to Penn State was one of the better nonconference games in the Big Ten last year, and the return trip to Auburn should follow suit. The Nittany Lions will certainly be grateful they’re wearing all-white on a September afternoon in Alabama. Heat will be a factor.
And for a nightcap, SMU at Maryland should be an absolutely zany matchup. Both teams averaged more than 440 yards per game of total offense last season and allowed more than 400 yards per game on defense. First tackle wins?
Wisconsin at Ohio State
When: Sept. 24, TBD, ABC
The Badgers will have one of the few defenses capable of making Ohio State’s offense look mortal. But will they be able to score enough points for that to matter?
If it turns out Wisconsin is pretty good, expect TBD to turn into a prime-time setting.
Purdue at Minnesota
When: Oct. 1, Noon, TBD
We know the bat-time, but not the bat-channel. That will likely depend on where the Boilermakers and Golden Gophers find themselves in the standings.
But if Purdue can beat Penn State in Week 1 and Minnesota wins at Michigan State in Week 4, both teams could be 4-0 and ranked coming into this game. Even if both are 3-1, it could turn out to be a pivotal game in the Big Ten West race.
Wisconsin at Michigan State
When: Oct. 15, 3:30 or 4 p.m., TBD
Sending the Badgers to Columbus and East Lansing in the same season seems kind of mean. If Wisconsin is going to win the West, it’ll have to be earned the hard way.
But there’s a pretty good shot both of these teams will finish 2nd in their respective divisions, so this should be a solid game.
Michigan at Ohio State
When: Nov. 26, Noon, FOX
Due to schedule constraints, we move ahead in the action.
After Michigan finally struck back for the first time in a decade, The Game will be on an even higher must-watch pedestal than usual. For Ohio State in particular, the outcome seems likely to be a factor in both the Big Ten East and CFP races. It’s not too early to get hyped for this one.