Big Ten Football kicks off its schedule this week
Sep 1, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; A detailed view of the Big Ten logo on the field prior to the game between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

College football is back in the Big Ten, with a Power 5 conference and plenty of exciting programs finally arriving for the 2020 season. In a bizarre season, filled with upsets and postponements, the Big Ten’s return adds to the mayhem.

Once they take the field, the Ohio State Buckeyes immediately enter the College Football Playoff picture. While the Buckeyes are the favorite, the Wisconsin Badgers are destined to make some noise. Of course, we can’t sleep on the Michigan Wolverines and Penn State Nittany Lions, two top-notch football programs eyeing a national championship.

Here are the three must-watch Big Ten football games as the conference kicks off their eight-game season.

Big Ten football schedule: Conference-only schedule for every Big Ten program

Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time: 8 PM EST
  • TV Channel: BTN
  • Illinois-Wisconsin odds: Wisconsin -20, (O/U 55.0)

Illinois made some noise last season. In 2019, the team started off slow losing to Minnesota and Michigan. Everything changed on Oct. 19, 2019, when the Illini pulled off a gigantic upset over No. 6 Wisconsin.

The thrilling upset kicked off a four-game winning streak with Illinois beating the likes of Purdue and Michigan State. Illinois ended its season 6-7, but left the 2019 season with a foundation to build upon.

Fast forward to 2020, Illinois is looking to play spoiler again versus Wisconsin. The Badgers were national contenders until Illinois ruined their hopes. Wisconsin finished the season 10-4, but was a disappointment due to their expectations.

This will be a thrilling matchup to start off Big Ten play. Wisconsin will be looking for revenge, and Illinois will hope to add to the chaotic college football season with another shocking result.

The game is on a Friday, and all eyes will be on this game as Big Ten play will officially be underway.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time: 12 PM EST
  • TV Channel: FOX
  • Nebraska-Ohio State line: Ohio State -23.5, (O/U 71.5)

Expectations have been sky-high since Scott Frost took over as Nebraska’s head coach. However, in his first two years, he led his team to a 4-8 and 5-7 season. Overall, Frost’s tenure in Nebraska has brought a lot of disappointment.

Ohio State is once again a College Football Playoff contender, with many suggesting the Buckeyes boast the best offense in college football. The Buckeyes will be looking to make a statement to the country basically saying, “Remember us?”

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields look to to solidify his draft season en route to leading the Buckeyes to a national championship. He has the team around him, and it will be national champions or bust for the Buckeyes.

It is 2020, and crazy things seem to keep on happening. How fitting would it be in this wild year for Frost to make amends for previous disappointments by knocking off the No. 5 team in the country.

Related: Where does Justin Fields land in our 2021 NFL mock draft?

No. 18 Michigan Wolverines at No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time: 7:30 PM EST
  • TV Channel: ABC
  • Michigan-Minnesota line: Minnesota – 1.5, (O/U 56.5)

The first top-25 matchups for the Big Ten. College football really is back. Michigan is starting off the season as a forgotten team. This may be perfect for a team that has constantly struggled to meet absurd expectations.

In 2019, the Wolverines couldn’t catch a break. The team was blown out by Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State. On top of that, Jim Harbaugh’s program lost in the Citrus Bowl to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

2019 will be a season Michigan hopes to forget, but the team will immediately be challenged in their matchup of the season.

Minnesota was one of the surprise teams in 2019. The team finished 11-2 and capped off its brilliant season by beating Auburn in the Outback bowl. It was the first time Minnesota won more than 10 games since 1904. The biggest victory came against No. 5 Penn State, and it suffered losses to Wisconsin and Iowa.

It remains to be seen if Minnesota can mimic the same season it had last year. The team is returning seven offensive starters, but the defense will be a work in progress. Michigan will have new faces on offense, and this may be a good thing for a team that has struggled in the past to take the next step.