Don’t take last weekend for granted — nonconference slates like that don’t come around too often in the Big Ten.

Even though the marquee game, Ohio State-Southern Cal, was a bust, the weekend was full of grade-A Big Ten games. There were some real doozies — Wisconsin-Fresno State, Purdue-Oregon and Michigan-Notre Dame, just to name a few.

How does the Big Ten plan to top that this week? Well, to be frank, it doesn’t.

Just one Big Ten team is playing a BCS conference school — and that happens to be a Pittsburgh team that got embarrassed 27-17 by Bowling Green to open the season. Notre Dame — possibly the worst undefeated school in the country — is traveling to Michigan State, and other than that, it’s middle-of-the-pack mid-majors for everyone else.

So, let’s all try to get excited for the few Big Ten games worth watching this week. Here’s what to look for:

Central Michigan at Purdue
I’m a sucker for upsets, and this has upset written all over it. The Boilermakers have to be reeling after their disheartening double-overtime loss to Oregon last week. A win over the Ducks would’ve legitimized Purdue’s claim that it’s ready to make a push at the Big Ten championship and a BCS bowl. Now, the Boilermakers have to find a way to get excited for a game against an upper-echelon Mid-American Conference team.

But the Chippewas aren’t going to roll over for Purdue. Quarterback Dan LeFevour and the Central Michigan offense are attempting to seal their third consecutive MAC championship and break out onto the national scene with a big win. A victory over Purdue would do just that.

This one might not have the draw that a marquee game like Ohio State-Southern Cal had, but I can guarantee it’ll be a much better game than that stinker. I mean, did you see last year’s down-to-the-wire Motor City Bowl between these teams?

[four of five stars]

Iowa at Pittsburgh
I can’t think of many battles between BCS foes that are more unappealing than this one. Iowa — one of the great underachievers in college football for the last few years — looks like it might be a little better this season. But the Hawkeyes still need to prove themselves. Too bad a win over Pitt won’t do much to help Iowa’s image.

Ever since Dave Wannstedt and his mustache took over coaching duties for the Panthers, with the hopes of bringing them back to prominence, the team has failed to impress. This was supposed to be Pitt’s year, but the season-opening loss to Bowling Green means the Panthers will have to wait at least another year to return to relevance.

There just aren’t a whole lot of good reasons to watch this game — other than the fact that Michigan is on a bye week, and you’ll all have to occupy your time somehow.

[one of five stars]

Notre Dame at Michigan State
The Fighting Irish have played two games this year, and in both, they were outgained by the opposing offense. But after a fourth-quarter spark one week and six turnovers from Michigan the next, Notre Dame fans and media pundits alike were quick to announce the Irish’s return to glory.

Well, that might be an overstatement.

Michigan State is the strongest team Notre Dame will face thus far, and this game will be a great indicator of how much glory the Irish really have regained. The Spartans have a brutal run game, led by Javon Ringer, who has bruised defenses on his way to more than 500 yards rushing in three games — best in the Big Ten. On top of that, rivalry games are fun, and this one has some pretty heavy historical substance, so you know the players will get hyped for it.

[two of five stars]

Troy at Ohio State
Last year, the Trojans turned some heads when quarterback Omar Haugabook lit up Oklahoma State in an early season upset — don’t expect Troy to garner that same kind of attention this week.

Granted, Ohio State has looked unimpressive this year, but the Buckeyes are sure to smoke a middle-of-the-pack Sun Belt team. Of course, there are some storylines that make this game semi-interesting. Is Beanie Wells going to be play? How is super-recruit Terrelle Pryor coming along? Can Todd Boeckman finally breathe some life into this dormant offense?

At the end of the day, it’s Ohio State, and every Michigan fan should be at least a little intrigued when the Buckeyes play — even if they’re playing Troy.

[two of five stars]

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