Caleb Friedman: Football-wise, Stanford. Personally, Ohio State
There’s always added hype around the first game because it’s the first game and everything’s new, but this is a matchup between two ranked teams (at least in the Coaches Poll) that seem evenly-matched, which is awesome. Obviously, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska matter more in terms of Big Ten aspirations, but I’m more excited for Northwestern to play a quality foe that it doesn’t play every year. That being said, I’m going to be traveling in Asia during this game, so I’m not positive I’ll get to watch it. So, while I’m most looking forward to Stanford in a football sense, I’m personally most looking forward to Ohio State. This is a Friday night game, and I don’t have class on Fridays this fall. I’ll be making cocktails at my house in Evanston at 10am, if you want to stop by.
Avery Zimmerman: Ohio State
I mean, is there any question about this one? The only thing that I don’t love about the contest is the fact that it’s on a Friday night, but that isn’t the biggest deal in the world to me, though Fitz would disagree. Ohio State is the cream of the crop when it comes to Big Ten football, and nearly the entire NCAA. The Buckeyes are one of the best programs of the decade and I remember watching the last NU-OSU game in Ryan Field, years before being a Northwestern fan. I remember watching Northwestern compete with Ohio State in Columbus, and of course I remember last year. Beating Ohio State would be legendary and the most impressive win of Fitz’s career. Enough said. As Bart Scott once famously said, can’t wait.
Joe Weinberg: Nebraska
In a 2018 season full of unforgettable, goosebump-worthy moments, I don’t think a single one exceeds the pure sense of relief and euphoria I experienced upon seeing Drew Luckenbaugh’s game-winner sail through the uprights in overtime. It was a defining moment in the Wildcats’ turnaround season, and seeing the swaths of depressed Husker fans pouting in their 0-6 misery on Central Street afterwards made the NU win that much sweeter.
Scott Frost’s team will be hungry for revenge in most of their games this season, but I have to imagine the NU loss left a particularly bad taste in their mouth given how close they were to pulling it out. On top of that, Pat Fitzgerald has a chance to secure his third straight win in Lincoln, which would be a remarkable feat. This matchup has produced some wild moments in recent years, and I don’t expect anything less in the 2019 rendition.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Ohio State
I — like every other NU fan — have been looking forward to this game since it was first announced. Friday Night Lights is coming to Evanston, and I can already feel the hype in Ryan Field. I remember the energy at Notre Dame last year, and I only expect more from this game. Ohio State was ranked third in the most recent preseason rankings, and is prepared to defend its Big Ten title win. Northwestern, on the other hand, is ready for revenge and will not forget what happened in Indy. This game is gonna be insane. I already have chills thinking about it.
Claire Kuwana: Stanford
I agree with Caleb on this one. Not only is Stanford the first game of 2019, but it also will be an even matchup between two strong teams. We will finally get to watch the ‘Cats we have been talking about for practically two months straight play, and it is against a team we haven’t seen since 2015. The last time these two teams played each other was Clayton Thorson’s debut as starting quarterback. And now, once again, the Wildcats face the Cardinals with a new starting quarterback. This game will help set the tone for the season and kick off what has proven to be a front-loaded schedule for the ‘Cats.
Noah Coffman: Wisconsin
The Wildcats have been gifted an early opportunity to shut down any Badger fan talk of 2018 being an “off year” with a trip to Camp Randall. If the Wildcats come out and win in a controlling fashion (similar to what happened in 2018), they will take important momentum into crucial matchups with Nebraska and Ohio State. Throw in that it will be my first football-related trip to Madison, and this potentially pivotal game takes on a whole new meaning. On paper, Ohio State looms large, but without impressive showings beforehand the under-the-lights showdown with the Buckeyes might not even matter.
Eli Karp: Ohio State
I’m trying to contain my excitement, and my apologies if this choice isn’t original enough. But there’s only one right answer. You know it’s big when you have to buy season tickets just to have access to tickets to this matchup. Sure, the magnitude of this matchup rides a bit on how Northwestern fares in the first half of the season, but the stops — albeit weird ones — have been pulled out to ensure this is a marquee game of the weekend. The third week of October is when the leaves really begin to turn and the air turns chilly in Evanston. Night games at Ryan Field are rare, and both the fans and players alike relished the atmosphere for the Notre Dame game last year. The crowd, likely split between scarlet and purple, will be riled up and so will the players. Conference games are important, but with how I see the Big Ten West being a multiple-team dogfight until rivalry weekend, I don’t think NU entering this matchup with a loss or two kills the appeal. Plus, we will have all weekend to do our homework.