Thanks to the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten announced confirmed earlier this year that the conference would be going to a nine-game schedule in 2016. Thursday morning, the slates for the first two seasons of the B1G were released.
As expected, the 2016 and 2017 schedules consist of six games versus divisional opponents as well as three cross-division games. Indiana-Purdue (the Old Oaken Bucket) is the only cross-division rivalry that’s protected annually.
Along with the nine-game schedule, it had previously been announced that the conference would not only be dropping the pretentious Legends & Leaders divisional monikers for the more simplified East & West designations, but would be shaking up the makeup of the divisions. The divisions beginning in 2016 will look follows:
When the Big Ten released its 2014 and 2015 schedules in May and June, respectively, one of the quirks was that East members Michigan and Ohio State avoided West members Nebraska and Wisconsin, and vice versa. Thanks to what the conference calls parity-based scheduling, that will change. Somewhat.
In 2016, the Badgers will draw the Wolverines (Oct. 1, in Ann Arbor) and the Buckeyes (Oct. 15) during their first three conference games. While they avoid OSU in 2017, UW does get a return trip from UM in mid-November. Conversely, the Cornhuskers have drawn the Buckeyes in both 2016 and 2017, but won’t see the Wolverines either season.
The 2017 season will mark the fourth year in a row that Nebraska and Michigan will not meet after playing each of NU’s first two seasons in the conference.
Below are the complete nine-game schedules for the first two seasons such a format will be in effect: