Earlier this morning the Big Ten released its football schedules for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. YouWager experts have learned that these will be the first two years that league will play nine conference games.
Some of the most important games to mention include cross-division games between Ohio State and Nebraska and Michigan and Wisconsin in both 2016 and 2017, Wisconsin versus Ohio State in 2016 and Nebraska at Penn State in 2017.
The Big Ten has taken a “parity-based” approach with their scheduling. This means the marquee programs will play each other outside of division play as often as possible.
The league also wants every player to have an opportunity to face each of the other 13 conference teams during his four-year career, so cross-division rivals will change from season to season.
Major rivalries, such as Ohio State-Michigan, Wisconsin-Minnesota and Northwestern-Illinois will remain on the season’s final weekend.
With this nine-game schedule the Big Ten will get early action. In 2017, the Buckeyeswill open the season on Sept. 2 at Indiana. In the past few years, Big Ten play usually has begun no earlier than the fourth or fifth week of the season. Previously scheduled nonconference games did not allow for the league to push more Big Ten games into early September in 2016 and ’17.
Even with rotating rivals, not every marquee team will meet one another. For instance, Michigan and Nebraska won’t play between 2014 and 2017 and the same goes for Wisconsin and Penn State. However the conference hopes that the schedules will even out as time passes.
A couple of months ago the Big Ten released its conference schedule for the 2014 season, when new members Maryland and Rutgers join the league and play in the East and West divisions begins.