3 West Coast games make it tougher week in Big Ten

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Oh, those dreaded trips to the West Coast.

The Big Ten’s recent history of misery in the Pacific time zone isn’t limited to long New Year’s afternoons in the Rose Bowl, either.

On Saturday, the conference will have three chances to turn the tide against the Pac-12 when No. 13 Wisconsin (1-0) visits Oregon State (0-0), No. 16 Nebraska (1-0) goes to the Rose Bowl stadium to face UCLA (1-0) and Illinois (1-0) plays at Arizona State (1-0).

“It’s going to be fun to have a little Pac-12 challenge,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference.

Fun?

The Big Ten is 6-29-1 in regular-season road games against Pac-12 opponents since 1990. Nebraska’s 5-3 record isn’t included because the Cornhuskers didn’t join the league until last year.

Overall, the Big Ten is 18-36-1 (not counting Nebraska) in regular-season games in the Pacific time zone or Hawaii over that same span.

“The road games are road games. You’ve got to accept them for what they are,” Bielema said. “Wrap your arms around them, embrace them, hug them up and make the best of them.”

That’s exactly what Nebraska coach Bo Pelini plans to do. The Huskers have recruited California high schools for decades, and as many as five of the eight Californians on the roster will be in the starting lineup against the Bruins.

“California has been a fairly productive area for us, and we’ve built some strong relationships out there and have had some success,” Pelini said. “This gives us an opportunity to be out there will give our kids’ folks a chance to see them play. It gives us a chance to showcase our program and what we do in the California area.”

Illinois coach Tim Beckman downplayed the disadvantages a Midwestern team faces when playing on the coast.

“We’re going to do a lot of things here at home and then fly on out to Arizona and try to prepare as if it was just playing another game at home _ even though we have a two-hour time change,” he said. “We’re still going to be based on what we do here.”

The intersectional struggle works both ways.

The Pac-12 is 17-33-1 against the Big Ten on the road since 1990. All Bowl Subdivision teams from the Pacific time zone and Hawaii are 22-61-1 in Big Ten stadiums since 1990.

“It’s probably the same reason it’s hard for them to come our direction,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose record against teams from the far west is 3-0 at home and 0-4 on the road. “You’re dealing with time change, you’re dealing with a whole different environment. It’s tough going on the road no matter where you go. It’s a little different if you get a chance to spend a week there. That’s not usually the case with an in-season game.”

The Pac-12 matchups aren’t the only tough games for the Big Ten this week.

Two of them are on the road: Penn State (0-1) at Virginia (1-0) and Purdue (1-0) at No. 22 Notre Dame (1-0). Iowa (1-0) hosts Iowa State (1-0) and Northwestern (1-0) is at home against Vanderbilt (0-1).

Games against non-BCS opponents have Michigan (0-1) playing Air Force (1-0) at home, Ohio State (1-0) at home against Central Florida (1-0), Michigan State (1-0) at Central Michigan (1-0), Minnesota (1-0) at home against New Hampshire (1-0) and Indiana (1-0) at Massachusetts (0-1).

Even though the Big Ten went 10-2 the opening weekend, only two games were against BCS foes, and some of the outcomes were surprisingly close.

One that wasn’t close was Michigan’s 41-14 loss to defending national champion and now-top-ranked Alabama.

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said his players have recovered well from their disappointing performance in the much-anticipated Big Ten-SEC matchup.

“I think our guys are mature enough to understand that that’s one of 12 guaranteed opportunities we have, and we have 11 left,” Hoke said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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