There's no use downplaying it. This is a huge weekend for Big Ten football, with conference heavyweights Wisconsin and Ohio State traveling to face Pac-12 teams.
"I think all of us were asked this at Big Ten media day: 'How do we change the perception of the league?'" Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches call. "We all said one simple thing: Handle your business. Certain weekends you can change the (national) perception, and it looks like this is one of those weeks."
The Wildcats have helped the cause with a road victory over Cal and a drubbing of Syracuse.
Now Ohio State and Wisconsin get their shot. The Buckeyes play at Cal, and the Badgers hit Arizona State.
The Sun Devils beat Sacramento State 55-0 in their only game, and the Big Ten is 0-8 all-time at Sun Devil Stadium, getting outscored 320-111.
Wisconsin has not allowed a point in blowing out Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech, but coach Gary Andersen said: "We're still evolving and have a lot of unanswered questions."
Andersen will have his team travel Thursday, while Urban Meyer will go the more conventional route with a Friday departure.
Meyer said he is "fairly optimistic" quarterback Braxton Miller will recover from an MCL sprain in his left knee to play: "He threw and moved around a little (Tuesday). The arm is fine, but can he plant, move, all of that? We'll know (Wednesday)."
Kenny Guiton played brilliantly in his place, shaking off a bruised throwing hand to complete 19 of 28 passes against San Diego State.
Meyer said he's not focusing on the larger picture, while Andersen said of the matchups: "They're important for a lot of reasons — recruiting, playing another big-time conference. I do believe it matters."
Nebraska also gets a shot to notch a big victory, with 16th-ranked UCLA coming to Lincoln. Last year the Bruins gashed the Cornhuskers for 653 yards in a 36-30 victory, and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said of UCLA's offense: "They spread you out and create room for their playmakers."
College reunion: Watch for more than a perfunctory handshake at the end of the Central Florida-Penn State game. The coaches have a mentor-student relationship. Long before he worked under Bill Belichick, Penn State's Bill O'Brien learned the game from George O'Leary at Georgia Tech.
"I owe him a lot," O'Brien said. "He promoted me from graduate assistant to assistant coach to coordinator. He was a demanding boss who demanded a great work ethic from his staff and players."
The Knights are 2-0 after outscoring Akron and Florida International by a combined 76-7.
"They're good," O'Brien said. "They have a quarterback in (Blake) Bortles who will play pro football. They have good backs and they are tough up front."
Who's on first? Michigan State's Mark Dantonio keeps stressing that his team is 2-0. Everyone else, it seems, is consumed with the Spartans' revolving door at quarterback.
Michigan State's three QBs — Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook and Tyler O'Connor — have combined to throw for just 210 yards and have a composite passer rating of 76.5. That rates 122nd of 125 FBS teams.
The Spartans have one more pseudo-scrimmage (Youngstown State) before playing Notre Dame, and Dantonio clearly wants to resolve the situation Saturday. His plan is to have Cook get the No. 1 reps in practice and be backed up by Damion Terry, who has become a fan favorite based on glowing reports from fall camp.
Asked what Terry needs to show to earn playing time, Dantonio replied: "An absence of mistakes — the elementary mistakes. Can he control the offense, the play-calling, getting in and out of certain checks? We don't want to take the redshirt off a freshman and then not play him the rest of the season. That's why we have to be careful with this."
Dantonio said there are only enough practice reps to prepare two quarterbacks adequately each week, so Maxwell will take "mental reps" and O'Connor will "have to sit and wait." For now.
"We are looking for someone to seize the moment," he said.
Extra points: Michigan's Brady Hoke said of quarterback Devin Gardner carrying 13 times against Notre Dame: "I don't think we put a target on it. We want him to be smart when he does take off." … Minnesota has just 18 receptions in its two games, with coach Jerry Kill saying his team will address the problem of dropped balls. … Kirk Ferentz upon being told that Iowa has been favored in 13 consecutive games against Iowa State: "I can't imagine we were favored in 1999." He then paused and added: "I better work on my math a little bit." The teams meet again Saturday. … Illinois has a disadvantage in its game against Washington, which has played only once this season. The Huskies throttled Boise State 38-6 as quarterback Keith Price threw for 324 yards and ran for 25. "He fits the bill in all categories," Illini coach Tim Beckman said. … Purdue quarterback Rob Henry has yet to throw a touchdown pass but coach Darrell Hazel is pleased that he did not commit a turnover Saturday against Indiana State: "We still have to see the field better and throw it a little better." … Northwestern opted to practice in the morning Tuesday to avoid the afternoon heat. … Although Nate Sudfeld put up terrific numbers (31-for-42, 363 yards) against Navy, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson implied he also will use Tre Roberson at quarterback, mentioning how the two-QB system works for Northwestern.