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 It’s Barometer Week in the Big Ten West.

That’s not going to excite people who are familiar with floods, forest fires, drought and hurricanes. But here in the relatively placid Midwest, there are a lot of interesting testers that will be of interest in the boring division of the nation’s richest conference.

Four Big Ten West teams will play road games that will tell a lot about what kind of seasons they're likely to have.

@ The ``fun’’ starts with with a Friday night game that only their fan bases will care about: Illinois at Kansas (6:30 p.m. Central, ESPN2).

I know. This is a better basketball matchup. But the Jayhawks are showing signs of life under Lance Leipold, who did impressive work at Buffalo and dazzled at Wisconsin-Whitewater. After a two-win season in his first year in Lawrence, Kansas went to a bowl game last year. What will they do in this, their third year?

It all adds up to an interesting road trip for Illinois, where Bret Bielema has built momentum, but needs a new cast of characters to deliver if he’s going to keep it going.

By the way, this reminds me a bit of my two decades on the Illinois beat, when the Illini had a habit of thinking they were scheduling a patsy, only to find out that a previously messy team had revived. Off the top of my head, it happened with Cal, pre-Big-Ten Rutgers and a couple of others.

@ Another potentially tricky road test has Wisconsin going to Washington State on Saturday night (6:30 p.m, ABC) for Luke Fickell’s second game. After all that Air Raid talk, the Badgers were all about running the ball in their modest 38-17 opening win against Buffalo, which only trailed 14-10 at the half.

Badger Nation is taking it for granted that Fickell won’t mess this up. And he probably won’t. Then again, I’ve been to the Palouse. Strange things happen in Eastern Washington.

@ It’s CyHawk Trophy time! Iowa travels to Iowa State (2:30 p.m., FOX) in the corn-fed intrastate clash. I kinda thought Matt Campbell should have taken the money and run from Ames, Iowa, when he had the chance. It’s a tough place to keep winning. Upsetting the Hawkeyes, who are favored by four points, would stem the tide for a while.

Oh, and by the way, Brian Ferentz Watch continues. Iowa’s embattled offensive coordinator needs to average 25 points a game to keep his job, one of the stranger contract clauses you’ll see. The truth is, his dad, head coach Kirk, should have helped him find a decent job at a school where he could hone his coaching skills—instead of going through this melodrama.

@ Last but absolutely not least, Nebraska trundles off to Colorado (11 a.m., FOX) in what is easily the most intriguing of this weekend’s four games that will tell a lot about where the Big Ten West is headed.

The spotlight will be on Coach Prime (Deion Sanders) and his miracle Buffaloes, who stole the college football show with their electrifying 45-42 win at TCU last Saturday.

Fewer people noticed, of course, that even though Nebraska lost another heartbreaker, 13-10 at Minnesota, in Matt Ruhle’s debut, this one was different.

The losses under Scott Frost seemed almost inevitable. The Cornhuskers were not a well-coached team. Ruhle’s first disappointment featured some critical mistakes, notably by ambitious quarterback Jeff Sims. But Ruhle is an excellent choice to revive Nebraska. The question is, does he have the roster to do it this fall?

My initial thought was that Colorado’s resounding success spells trouble for Nebraska. And it probably does. But there are two things we don’t know: How much did TCU’s falloff contribute to Colorado’s amazingly good performance?

More importantly, how much of a letdown are the Buffs going to have after being sky-high for their opener?

If I had to put my dollar, I would say Colorado looked too good against TCU to fail against Nebraska.

But it’s college football. And it’s Barometer Week in the Big Ten West.