Top 15 Big Ten College Football Non-Conference Games to Watch in 2024

It’s about to be a wild Big Ten season with 18 teams, four new ones in the mix, late night battles on one coast, and early wake-up calls for Pacific Time Zone types on the other coast. With nine conference games for each team, there isn’t a ton of room for top non-conference battles.

Some Big Ten schools are playing a killer or two outside of league play, and others – (cough) Ohio State (cough) – aren’t exactly extending themselves.

Here are 15 Big Ten non-conference games that should be the ones you’ll need to see this season.

15. Washington State at Washington, Sept. 14

Last Meeting: Washington 24, Washington State 21

All-Time Record: Washington 68-31-4

It won’t feel right that the Apple Cup will be played on September 14th, but this should be as interesting and intense as any game Washington will play this season. The program’s Big Ten opener against Northwestern is next.

14. Rutgers at Virginia Tech, Sept. 21

Last Meeting: Rutgers 35, Virginia Tech 16, 2023

All-Time Record: Virginia Tech 12-4

Virginia Tech is far better than last year when it got whacked by Rutgers. With Washington and the Big Ten schedule coming up a week later, the Scarlet Knights could use a second straight win in the series.

13. Michigan State at Boston College, Sept. 21

Last Meeting: Boston College 24, Michigan State 21, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl

All-Time Record: Boston College 3-1

It’s Michigan State and new head coach Jonathan Smith vs Boston College and new head coach Bill O’Brien. It’ll be intense, especially considering the Spartans play Ohio State and Oregon in the following two weeks.

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12. North Carolina at Minnesota, Aug. 29

Last Meeting: North Carolina 31, Minnesota 13, 2023

All-Time Record: North Carolina 1-0

It’s the season opener, and it’s a shot for the Gophers to show there’s a passing game to worry about. Last year they couldn’t get anything moving in the loss to Drake Maye and the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

11. Kansas at Illinois, Sept. 7

Last Meeting: Kansas 34, Illinois 23, 2023

All-Time Record: Illinois 3-2

It seems like these two basketball powerhouses should’ve met more than five times. The Illini get a week off to get ready for the home game – it will need this win with what’s coming soon in the Big Ten schedule.

10. Boise State at Oregon, Sept. 7

Last Meeting: Boise State 38, Oregon 28, 2017 Las Vegas Bowl

All-Time Record: Boise State 3-0

Be very, VERY careful about this one if you’re Oregon. The team’s focus will be on the Oregon State game coming up next, but Boise State might be the best Group of Five team – and it has never lost in the series.

9. Colorado at Nebraska, Sept. 7

Last Meeting: Colorado 36, Nebraska 14, 2023

All-Time Record: Nebraska 48-21-2

Last year’s Colorado win unleashed the full power of Deionmania on the college football world. This time around, Nebraska should be much, much better.

8. Oregon at Oregon State, Sept. 14

Last Meeting: Oregon 31, Oregon State 7, 2023

All-Time Record: Oregon 55-46-6

You don’t think Oregon State might be a wee bit jacked for this home game?

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7. Iowa State at Iowa, Sept. 7

Last Meeting: Iowa 20, Iowa State 13, 2023

All-Time Record: Iowa 47-20

These two always play intense, tight games. The Hawkeyes can show early on if they really do have more of an offense.

6. UCLA at LSU, Sept. 21

Last Meeting: UCLA, 38, LSU 27, 2021

All-Time Record: UCLA 1-0

What kind of team does UCLA have this season? It’ll play Indiana in the Big Ten opener the week before and gets Oregon and Penn State right after. This is NOT the non-conference road game you want between all of that.

5. Penn State at West Virginia, Aug. 31

Last Meeting: Penn State 38-15, 2023

All-Time Record: Penn State 45-9-2

For a Penn State team with as nice a schedule as can be asked for, this is a dangerous road game to kickoff the season.

4. Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 30

Last Meeting: Notre Dame 48, USC 20, 2023

All-Time Record: Notre Dame 51-38-5

It’s the last game of the regular season, and this should be a really, really big deal for at least one of these two. At the very least, the pressure should be on more than ever for both coaches to win this classic rivalry.

3. Alabama at Wisconsin, Sept. 14

Last Meeting: Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17, 2015

All-Time Record: 1-1

These two met to open up the 2015 season, Derrick Henry went off for the Tide, and that was the first step on the way to a national title. Wisconsin gets Bama in Camp Randall, and then it’s off to USC for the Big Ten opener.

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2. USC vs LSU, Sept. 1 (in Las Vegas)

Last Meeting: LSU 23, USC 3, 1984

All-Time Record: 1-1

It’s one of those moments that will define the USC season. Can Lincoln Riley pull off something big and can the Trojans look the part? The Big Ten opener at Michigan is coming up soon after a date with Utah State.

1. Texas at Michigan, Sept. 7

Last Meeting: Texas 38, Michigan 37, 2004 season Rose Bowl

All-Time Record: Texas 1-0

All due respect to 2023 Washington, but this should’ve been the national championship last season. How have these two superpowers only met once? The first time around was the year before THE YEAR for Texas as Vince Young pulled off a thriller in the 2025 Rose Bowl.

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