Big Ten Divisional Shift & Schedule Change

Big Ten Divisional Shift & Schedule Change


Legends and Leaders are no more. At least when describing the two names for the Big Ten Conference’s football divisions.

East vs. West

This past week the Big Ten Conference voted to toss the divisional names used since 2010, opting for Big Ten West and Big Ten East to describe each of its seven-team divisions. For better or for worse the conference will become a 14-team league beginning with the 2014-15 academic year as both Maryland and Rutgers start play.

The divisional name change comes with one other announced change: Beginning in Fall 2016, all Big Ten teams will play a nine-game schedule, the first time in more than 30 years that league members have played that many games against each other.

The schools will play four conference home games and five conference away games one year and then switch that number the following year. Each school will play the six other teams in its division annually with three crossover games as well. Only Purdue (west) and Indiana (east) will have its rivalry protected with a permanent crossover game each year.

The new division alignments will have Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the East Division and Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the West Division. With the exception of Indiana, the separation represents a time zone difference with the Big Ten East in the eastern time zone and the Big Ten West in the central time zone.

Rose Bowl Lives!

In related news, the Rose Bowl will continue to be played and will be pulled into a wider college playoff system that was also announced last week. The Rose Bowl will continue to host the best teams from the Big Ten and Pac 12 conferences, but every third year it will serve as one of two semifinal games for the college playoffs. That means a pair of teams from any conference will play in Pasadena, enabling the granddaddy of all bowl games to attract fresh visitors and money to SoCal year after year.

The Big Ten divisional changes apply only to football, so it remains to be seen how a newly-expanded conference will handle other sports, especially basketball. Conceivably, Big Ten members could play the other 13 members once, with room for up to five, second game match ups. Or, the conference could adopt football’s geographical lines to create a unique 19-game season. Under that arrangement, teams could play two games against divisional foes and one game against members of the opposite division.



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