With Penn State football playing Illinois on Friday night, the Nittany Lions kick off Big Ten play.

I have ranked and rated each of the following games based on atmosphere, level of competition, and underlying storylines. Each category has a rating from 1-10 with ten being the highest possible score. The final rating of excitement will be 0-30, combining the results of the first three categories.

  1. Rutgers

Level of Competition: 2 (being generous)

Atmosphere: 3

Storyline: 3

Excitement Total: 8

There’s nothing pretty about this match-up. Rutgers has somehow played worse than their astronomically low expectations by losing by 41 points to Kansas. That’s all I have to say on that.

  1. Indiana

Level of Competition: 5

Atmosphere: 2

Storyline: 2

Excitement Total: 9

Indiana vs Penn State football has been a lopsided series in favor of Penn State throughout the years. Combine that with Penn State coming off back-to-back games against Ohio State and Michigan State and you have a mid-season affair that will be easily forgotten.

  1. Maryland

Level of Competition: 3

Atmosphere: 6

Storyline: 5

Excitement Total: 14

Maryland didn’t shake hands in 2014, and it is Penn State’s senior game. Those are the only real stories of the game. It being the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the student section will struggle to bring the energy it is used to providing.

Maryland is a couple of good recruiting classes away from actually contenting in the Big Ten East so this will look to be a blowout.

  1. Illinois

Level of Competition: 3

Atmosphere: 6

Storyline: 5

Excitement Total: 14

Football under the Friday night lights will shake things up for a Penn State program built on tradition. Combine that with the national spotlight and a young Illinois team with nothing to lose, and you have an awkward 9 p.m. game that may get dicey for Penn State.

On the flip side, Penn State could put on a clinic leading up to their showdown with Ohio State. Whichever way the game goes, it will be intriguing.

  1. Iowa

Level of Competition: 7

Atmosphere: 8

Storyline: 6

Excitement Total: 21

The last time these two teams played each other it somehow was both a defensive and offensive clinic that led to Penn State’s first walk-off touchdown in regulation since 1929. Saquon Barkley provided highlight heaven, and Josey Jewell was a menace on Iowa’s defense.

Surely, the sequel can’t be as good as the original, right? With the showdown happening in Happy Valley, the scales sure tip in the Nittany Lion’s favor.

Yet, Iowa is playing impressive football right now and their schedule will allow them to build confidence leading up to the game. If Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium is able to work its magic against Wisconsin as it has in the past, Iowa might even roll into Beaver Stadium undefeated.

  1. Wisconsin

Level of Competition: 7

Atmosphere: 9

Storyline: 8

Excitement Total: 24

Wisconsin will come into Penn State seeking revenge from the 2016 Big Ten Championship game. The all-time series record between these two traditional powers is tied, 9-9. The last three games have gone to Penn State, all being close games decided by one score.

Wisconsin’s running back, Jonathon Taylor, will look to put on a show for his Heisman campaign in the hostile environment of Beaver Stadium. This will definitely be doable against a Penn State team that has youth riddled across its defense.

Penn State may spoil the result of Big Ten Championship game as the Big Ten West has looked weaker than the East.

  1. Michigan State

Level of Competition: 7

Atmosphere: 9

Storyline: 9

Excitement Total: 25

Many argue that Penn State’s loss to Michigan State in 2017 was the difference between Penn State getting into the College Football Playoff, and finishing the season with a Fiesta Bowl win. This game will be all about revenge.

It took the perfect storm, both literally and figuratively, for Michigan State to beat Penn State in 2017. A three and a half-hour lightning delay and a last-second field goal ultimately lead to Penn State’s demise. This loss solidified an underachieving season that left Penn State fans with a bad taste in their mouth.

Brian Lewerke, Michigan State’s quarterback, may be able to take advantage of a Penn State secondary that has shown weakness against a much less impressive offense in Appalachian State.

  1. Michigan

Level of Competition: 9

Atmosphere: 10

Storyline: 10

Excitement Total: 29

“The Big House” will be packed. Jim Harbaugh has the Michigan faithful, the media, and seemingly the rest country chirping in his ear about how overrated and overpaid he is.

James Franklin will need to prove that he can beat a good team on the road.

Michigan is seeking revenge after the beating they received in the Nittany Lion’s “White-Out” game from last year.

This shapes up for an instant classic in Ann Arbor.

  1. Ohio State

Level of Competition: 10

Atmosphere: 10

Storylines: 10

Excitement Total: 30

Don’t be fooled, Penn State vs. Ohio State is the biggest rivalry in the Big Ten. I said it. Michigan hasn’t been able to defeat Ohio State since Urban Meyer took control of the program.

What more could you ask for out of a September football game? It’s the annual “White-Out” in Happy Valley.

Penn State is looking to avenge their one-point loss to Ohio State in 2017.

Urban Meyer will be in the most hostile environment in America following his three-game suspension due to how he handled the domestic abuse allegations against his former receiver’s coach, Zach Smith.

Trace McSorely and Dwayne Haskins will be looking to boost their Heisman campaigns.

ESPN’s College Gameday will most likely be there for the 7:30 p.m. game on ABC.

Ohio State vs. Penn State, if it lives up to the hype, will be the best game of the Big Ten season, possibly even the best game of the entire college football season.

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Christian Katt. Content Creator. Class of 2020. Penn State University. I was an All-State scout-team OLB at my high school nestled in beautiful Chester, New York. Not to mention, I was the unofficial Manager of the Year for our high school basketball team. Grew up loving Penn State for no particular reason. Was a mechanical engineering major for four weeks before realizing broadcast journalism is my calling (hopefully). Passionate love for all Penn State sports, the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Capitals and Brooklyn Nets. I provide the un-edited, un-apologetic opinion on the sports world that you’ve been waiting for.
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Christian Katt. Content Creator. Class of 2020. Penn State University. I was an All-State scout-team OLB at my high school nestled in beautiful Chester, New York. Not to mention, I was the unofficial Manager of the Year for our high school basketball team. Grew up loving Penn State for no particular reason. Was a mechanical engineering major for four weeks before realizing broadcast journalism is my calling (hopefully). Passionate love for all Penn State sports, the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Capitals and Brooklyn Nets. I provide the un-edited, un-apologetic opinion on the sports world that you’ve been waiting for.

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