11. No. 1: Michigan State at Oregon
Date: Sept. 6
Location: Eugene, Ore.
This is the top nonconference game to watch. It will give us a national championship contender, and tell us everything we need to know about both teams.
Michigan State had a magical season in 2013, but lost top defensive talent to the NFL. The Spartans will have to plug in the next wave of players, and hope Connor Cook matures as a quarterback and leader to retain their spot as Big Ten champions.
Oregon has Heisman hopeful quarterback Marcus Mariota leading the charge as the Ducks seek another season with national title dreams.
These two top-tier teams will challenge one another where they are weakest right away. Oregon will face a physical team on both sides of the ball, and the Ducks will test the new defense with their speed and tempo. The game will answer the questions of who is a contender, and what their respective prospects are for their conference races.