Football season is finally here, and everyone in Big 10 country couldnt be happier. After a triumphant ending to last season which saw the Buckeyes hoist the Coaches' trophy, the question that remains is: "can the Big 10 continue this stretch, or will the Buckeyes faulter somewhere along the road". It would be certainly understandable if they would seeing as the athletic director at Ohio State did not do the preseason #1 Buckeyes any favors. Ohio State OOC: at Arizona (Sept. 1), at Nebraska (Sept. 15) , vs. UCLA (Oct. 6), vs. #4 Texas (Nov. 24) The conference schedule is grueling for OSU as well, as the both open and close the schedule with back to back games against ranked teams. The Buckeyes aren't the only team with high expectations coming into this season however; The Wisconsin Badgers enter the season ranked 3rd in both the preseason AP and Coaches' Polls. Bucky, led by their prolific rushing attack will attempt to make history by being the first team in school history to win a national title in football. They don't control their own destiny though, because they do not face the Buckeyes this season. In theory, it is possible to have a Big 10 vs. Big 10 title game, but it is yet to be seen whether or not the voters will allow that. Before Wisconsin can even think about going to a BCS game, they have to get through their 12 game schedule first. And like Ohio State, they have a doosie. Wisconsin OOC: at #10 Clemson (Aug. 25), at #12 Oregon (Sept. 1), vs. #20 Boise (Sept. 8), vs. #4 Texas (Sept. 15) The Bagers start the season with 4 ranked teams out of conference, then travel to #11 Iowa and #21 Michigan to start the conference schedule. If Wisconsin wants to go to a BCS game, they are going to have to earn it. Not to mention they have a pesky Illini squad sitting there at the bottom of the schedule looking for revenge for their overtime loss last season in Champaign. The Illini bring in transfer Tate Forcier at QB and look to be a much more balanced team this year than last. With losses at all the skill positions on offense, the Illini will rely on Forcier's arm and their defense to hopefully make it back to a bowl game next season. It won't be easy, but Coach Cheez thinks it shouldn't be a problem. Coach Cheez and the Illini have a schedule that may only be envied by Wisconsin, with 6 ranked teams on their pallet and a host of good schools out of conference Illinois OOC: at Missouri (Aug. 25), at Texas A&M (Sept. 1), vs. Oregon State (Sept. 8), vs. #25 Cincinnati (Sept 15). Illinois is another school that avoids the Buckeyes this season, but they can't avoid the Hawkeyes who have BCS aspirations just like the Badgers and the Buckeyes. Iowa enters the season ranked #11 in both polls, and know they are on the verge of heading to the Rose Bowl themselves. You can imagine that they have September 22 and November 10 circled in red marker, because those are the dates they have the Badgers and Buckeyes coming to town (respectively). And i feel that it is important to reiterate that Iowa will have both of those games at home. However, they do only have 5 games in Kinnick Stadium this year, and only the one in the last five weeks of the season. Their out of conference schedule certainly isnt a cakewalk, either. Iowa OOC: vs. Utah (Aug. 25), at Iowa State (Sept. 1), at Nebraska (Sept. 8), at Missouri (Nov. 3) If the Hawkeyes can go 11-1, it will be a testament to them and their staff and should be rewarded with a BCS berth. I don't care if the Big 10 has Ohio State and Wisconsin in there, give them a third slot. Here's a look at how the writers have the conference playing out: 1. Ohio State 2. Wisconsin 3. Iowa 4. Michigan State 5. Michigan 6. Penn State 7. Minnesota 8. Northwestern 9. Illinois 10. Indiana 11. Purdue No real surprises at the top, but it is shocking to see Illinois so low. We'll see how this pans out over the course of the season Week One features a lot of Big 10 teams in action - some with marquee matchups, others with cupcakes Week 1: August 25 Game of the Week: #3 Wisconsin at #10 Clemson (7:00 - ESPN / ABC) Illinois at Missouri (7:00 - ESPN / ABC) Indiana at FCS Northwest (11:00 - Big Ten Network) #22 Utah at #11 Iowa (1:00 - ESPN / ABC) Eastern Michigan at #14 Michigan State (11:30 - Big Ten Network) Minnesota at UNLV (1:00 - Big Ten Network) Ohio at Penn State (2:30 - Big Ten Network) Purdue at Notre Dame (2:30 - NBC) This first week of games should tell us a lot about the strength of the conference. Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and Wisconsin all have big tests. Obviously, none bigger than Wisconsin, though. Clemson looks to help bring the ACC to the powerhouse it once was. Coupled with #7 Florida State, they should make it an interesting race to see who gets to go to Jacksonville to likely square off against a highly touted Miami squad. This game should be smashmouth football at it's finest. With that said, I dont know a team who is known for playing better smashmouth football than the Badgers. The Clemson crowd will make it tough, but the Badgers pull it out. Other Big Ten predictions: Missouri def. illinois Indiana def. FCS NW Iowa def. Utah Michigan State def. Eastern Michigan Minnesota def. UNLV Penn State def. Ohio Notre Dame def. Purdue Wisconsin def. Clemson No conference can be perfect. Looking forward to a great season of Big 10 fooball, and it all statrts this week.