Big Ten Country

The 6 best Big Ten non-conference games in the 2023 season

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The college football season is still two months away, but that isn't stopping us from getting hyped about what the schedule has to offer for the Big Ten conference.

While games involving some of the top teams in the country will certainly grab headlines in the latter parts of the campaign, there are still some non-conference games worth circling on your calendar.

Here are some of our favorite games we're looking forward to in 2023.

West Virginia at Penn State – Sept. 2

The Nittany Lions will likely be a fringe top-10 team when the season begins in September, and this opening tilt against the Mountaineers will be a good first look (and will just so happen to air on NBC).

West Virginia was projected to finish ninth in the Big 12 last year, but they have the distinction of beating the teams who finished in the top three in those projections, beating Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State en route to a 5-7 season.

That being said, none of those teams were ranked when they played the Mountaineers, so the main draw of this game will be seeing the Rose Bowl-winning Nittany Lions in prime time. Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are a killer combination at running back, and Penn State also has some serious NFL Draft prospects in left tackle Olu Fashanu and defensive end Chop Robinson.

Nebraska at Colorado – Sept. 9

The Cornhuskers drew a Week 0 game against Minnesota, but it’d be hard to blame national pundits for looking forward to this one, as it will be a marquee showdown of two of the most highly-touted coaching hires of the offseason.

Matt Rhule is making his return to the college ranks this season after being hired by Nebraska, and he’ll be tasked with resurrecting a Cornhusker program that has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

On the other sideline, Deion Sanders has made the jump to Division I after leading Jackson State to a 27-6 record in three seasons.

Even with the intense attention this game will draw because of the coaching matchup, the on-field product could be a bit rough. Colorado is coming off a 1-11 season, while the Cornhuskers finished 2022 with a record of 4-8.

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Iowa at Iowa State – Sept. 9

The new-look Hawkeyes will continue the Cy-Hawk Series against the Cyclones on Sept. 9, marking their first big test of the 2023 season.

Cade McNamara is hoping to make an impression after his high-profile transfer from Michigan, and the offense is littered with intriguing names. That includes the talented tight end tandem of Luke Lachey and transfer senior Erick All, as well as returning stalwarts like running back Kaleb Johnson.

The team’s defense is largely unchanged, with senior transfer linebacker Nick Jackson the lone exception.

Wisconsin at Washington State – Sept. 9

The Cougars came into Camp Randall last season and beat the Badgers 17-14, helping set the tone for what turned out to be an up-and-down season for Wisconsin.

This time around, Wisconsin has a new coach in Luke Fickell, a new quarterback in Tanner Mordecai, and an absolutely-stacked wide receiver room that includes CJ Williams, Bryson Green and Will Pauling, all of whom transferred into the program.

Add in returning stars Chimere Dike and Braelon Allen, and the Badgers’ offense could be humming as the new season gets underway.

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Washington at Michigan State – Sept. 16

Will it be Noah Kim or Katin Houser under center for the Spartans? Either way, Michigan State is going to face a stern test against Washington, who will likely be ranked when they come to East Lansing in a game televised on Peacock.

Michael Penix threw for 4,641 yards and 31 touchdowns last season for the Huskies, and he rushed for 92 yards and four touchdowns for good measure.

While Wayne Taulapapa is out, Cameron Davis is still on the roster after rushing for 522 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Meanwhile, Michigan State is left to decide between two quarterbacks who combined for 21 passing attempts last season, but they’ll at least have Jalen Berger, who rushed for six touchdowns last season. Tre Mosley will also look to improve on his four touchdowns from a season ago, but the passing game could face challenges as Keon Coleman and Jayden Reed have both moved on from the program.  

Ohio State at Notre Dame – Sept. 23

Arguably one of the top games on the schedule in 2023 will take place in South Bend in late September, as the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish could both be in the top-10 in the rankings when they clash in a rematch of last year’s battle.

Ohio State may not have CJ Stroud back, but their offense is ridiculously-loaded, with Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson serving as one of the best running back tandems in the country. Marvin Harrison Jr. could be a top-five NFL Draft pick in 2024, and Emeka Egbuka is no slouch either, having racked up 74 catches for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

The Irish recovered from a dismal 0-2 start to put together an 8-4 season under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, and they’ll be looking to take a big step forward. Quarterback Sam Hartman is an intriguing figure after transferring to Notre Dame from Wake Forest, having thrown 110 career touchdowns for the Demon Deacons.

Audric Estimé rushed for 920 yards last season for the Irish, and they also have brought back a pair of incredible offensive tackles in Joe Alt and Blake Fisher.

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