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1. Oregon at Ohio State

The Buckeyes qualified for the 2021 national title game. The Ducks won the 2020 Pac-12 final. Their Sept. 11 meeting should be a doozy.

2. Wisconsin vs. Notre DameThe Sept. 25 game at the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field easily could be a matchup of two Top-25 teams inside an NFL venue. No doubt it’ll be given a cushy TV timeslot regardless.

3. Auburn at Penn StateBryan Harsin will take his first group of Tigers into Happy Valley on Sept. 18 for a game that just might be more difficult than Auburn’s first two games — Akron and Alabama State.

4. Iowa at Iowa StateHopefully this regular in-state meeting returns to the schedule on Sept. 11 after the COVID-19 pandemic led to its absence last season.

5. Cincinnati at IndianaNo, this Sept. 18 game isn’t a men’s basketball matchup that fell into a football discussion. Luke Fickell’s Bearcats finished 9-1 last season, and Tom Allen’s Hoosiers impressed en route to a 6-2 run.

6. Nebraska at OklahomaThe Cornhuskers of 2020 aren’t in any shape to face the high-powered Sooners that went 9-2. But maybe 2021 Nebraska can stun on Sept. 18.

7. Purdue at Notre DameQuality in-state game on Sept. 18 comes after Boilermakers face Oregon State earlier in their schedule.

8. Army at WisconsinBlack Knights coach Jeff Monken was in Illini coaching hire discussion and will face the Badgers on Oct. 16.

9. Illinois at VirginiaBeyond the opener against Nebraska, this Sept. 11 game is Bret Bielema’s best early test at Illinois.

10. West Virginia at MarylandIf the 2021 Terrapins want to prove they’re making positive strides, winning this Sept. 4 game is huge.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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