ABC and ESPN have has the pick of Big Ten games to televise each week, so the fact that the local ABC affiliate doesn't want a conference game this weekend, and ESPN chose Ohio State-Eastern Michigan for its main channel and Michigan-Bowling Green for ESPN2, tells you something about how uninspiring the roster of games is this weekend.
Blame it on the coaches, who universally want to schedule as sure a win as possible with Big Ten play opening next week. For eight Big Ten schools, that means bringing a Mid-American Conference opponent to town; two others are playing FCS-level opponents.
That means eight games have fallen into the Big Ten Network's lap this weekend, as heavy a workload as the network ever faces. The BTN will televise five games at once at 11 a.m., beaming each region its "local" game as best as it can. The good news for fans with satellite dishes (or in some cases, a cable provider with multiple extra channels for sports) is that they can watch any or all of those games. Think of it as the college football version of the NFL Ticket.
On DirecTV, for instance, Austin Peay at Wisconsin will air on the BTN's home channel, 610, but other games will be available on channels 609, 611, 612 and 615.
So what does this mean for the Gophers? Their 7:30 kickoff against Northern Illinois will air at the same time as Indiana-Akron, but it will be available throughout the Twin Cities area. Here's the network's list of places to find Saturday's Gopher game:
DirecTV: Ch. 609
Dish Network: Ch. 5400 (9501 HD)
AT&T U-Verse: Ch. 691 (1691 HD)
Verizon FiOS: Ch. 330
If you've got cable and aren't sure where to find the game, the BTN has a website to help. Go to www.bigtennetwork.com/gamefinder and enter your zip code for help finding the game on your local system.
For fans at TCF Bank Stadium, there will be ceremonies to celebrate the governor's declaration of Saturday as Bronko Nagurski Day. The family of the long-ago Gopher great, who died in 1990, will be there, as well as a life-size bobblehead, and the plow that legend has it Nagurski was using the day Minnesota coach Fats Spears discovered him in International Falls in 1927. Oh, and fireworks at halftime.