Michael Conroy/Associated Press
The schedule is starting to look a little more familiar in college football. This weekend, the Big Ten returns to the field.
While 14th-ranked Wisconsin kicked off the league’s season Friday night, fifth-ranked Ohio State grabs the spotlight Saturday afternoon. Then in the evening, No. 18 Michigan travels to No. 21 Minnesota for the conference’s first Top 25 clash.
And that’s simply one portion of an exciting slate.
Week 8 features three more Top 25 matchups, highlighted by the mid-afternoon showdown of Big 12 front-runners Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Plus, North Carolina State takes on rival North Carolina, and Cincinnati heads to SMU.
In total, 20 of the programs in the AP Top 25 are taking the field on this busy weekend.
Week 8 Top 25
1. Clemson (5-0; vs. Syracuse)
2. Alabama (4-0; at Tennessee)
3. Notre Dame (4-0; at Pitt)
4. Georgia (3-1; idle)
5. Ohio State (0-0; vs. Nebraska)
6. Oklahoma State (3-0; vs. No. 17 Iowa State)
7. Texas A&M (3-1; idle)
8. Penn State (0-0; at Indiana)
9. Cincinnati (3-0; at No. 16 SMU)
10. Florida (2-1; idle)
11. Miami (4-1; vs. Virginia)
12. BYU (5-0; vs. Texas State)
13. Oregon (0-0; idle)
T-14. North Carolina (3-1; vs. No. 23 North Carolina State)
T-14. Wisconsin (1-0; W 45-7 vs. Illinois on Friday)
16. SMU (5-0; vs. No. 9 Cincinnati)
17. Iowa State (3-1; at No. 6 Oklahoma State)
18. Michigan (0-0; at No. 21 Minnesota)
19. Virginia Tech (3-1; at Wake Forest)
20. Kansas State (3-1; vs. Kansas)
21. Minnesota (0-0; vs. No. 18 Michigan)
22. Marshall (4-0; vs. Florida Atlantic)
23. NC State (4-1; at No. 14 North Carolina)
24. USC (0-0; idle)
25. Coastal Carolina (4-0; vs. Georgia Southern)
Big Ten Is Back!
During the past six weeks, Clemson and Alabama have solidified themselves as the national powers. Most expectations have Ohio State joining that group, but actual games mean the discussion is no longer limited to projections only.
Prior to Ohio State’s first game, however, Wisconsin was the first Big Ten team to take the field.
Since the league introduced a championship game in 2011, the Badgers have been a regular contender with six trips. Their opening game was against Illinois—which ruined an undefeated record last year—but the bigger storyline is the quarterback.
Returning starter Jack Coan has a right foot injury, so Graham Mertz is now QB1. He was considered the third-best pro-style quarterback two recruiting cycles ago and lived up to the billing.
Mertz went 20-of-21 with 248 yards and five touchdowns to zero interceptions as the Badgers steamrolled Illinois 45-7.
Morry Gash/Associated Press
Ohio State is the favorite, but Wisconsin put the Big Ten on notice.
In the noon window Saturday, Justin Fields and the Buckeyes make their much-anticipated debut at home against Nebraska. Fields totaled 284 yards of offense and four touchdowns in a 48-7 victory