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College Football Picks: Big Ten gets 5 big tests in Week 3

College Football Picks: Big Ten gets 5 big tests in Week 3
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The Pac-12 was in the spotlight last week, and while the conference as a whole didn’t fare well going 3-5 in nonconference games against FBS opponents, Oregon’s upset at Ohio State was a potential season-shaper.

The Big Ten has five teams facing ranked nonconference opponents on Saturday. According to the Big Ten network, that hasn’t happened since October 4, 1975.

The main event is Saturday night in Happy Valley with No. 22 Auburn at No. 10 Penn State, a rare SEC-Big Ten regular-season game matching ranked teams in a home stadium. The last was No. 3 Alabama’s 27-11 victory at No. 23 Penn State in 2011.

The only other time a ranked SEC team has played at a Big Ten school was Georgia at Michigan in 1965. The Bulldogs won 15-7.

Elsewhere Saturday, four games have unranked Big Ten teams facing ranked nonconference foes. The Big Ten is an underdog in each and the road team in three of them, so keep expectations modest.

Especially for Nebraska, which is a three-touchdown underdog against Oklahoma in a meeting that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century between the Cornhuskers and Sooners. Nostalgia might be the only appeal of this matchup of former Big Eight/12 rivals.

Purdue (at No. 12 Notre Dame) and Michigan State (at No. 24 Miami) are both single-digit road underdogs and Indiana is underdog at home against No. 8 Cincinnati.

Nether is ranked, but Minnesota at Colorado is another Power Five vs. Power Five there for the taking for the Big Ten.

The Big Ten’s best, Ohio State, took a hit last week, but the rest of the league can pick up the slack on Saturday.

Penn State running back Noah Cain (21) splits two Ball State defenders on a first half run during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Penn State defeated Ball State 44-13.
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