Dienhart: Let's break down 2014 football slate

Newcomer Rutgers will take part in the first Big Ten game of 2014 when it plays host to Penn State on Sept. 13. That’s one of several interesting matchups in the schedule, which was announced today. The 2014 schedule will be the first season with Maryland and Rutgers in the conference. The 2014 season also will see the Big Ten split into new East and West Divisions.

Teams will play eight conference games in 2014 and 2015, six vs. division foes and two vs. cross-division opponents. The Big Ten will move to a nine-game league slate in 2016.

Here’s a look at cross-division 2014 foes:

East

  • Indiana: at Iowa; Purdue
  • Maryland: Iowa; at Wisconsin
  • Michigan: Minnesota; at Northwestern
  • Michigan State: Nebraska; at Purdue
  • Ohio State: Illinois; at Minnesota
  • Penn State: Northwestern; at Illinois
  • Rutgers: at Nebraska; Wisconsin

Big Ten Conference schedule only below:

EAST
IU MD MICH MSU OSU PSU RU
9/13  –  –  –  –  – AT RU PSU
9/27 MD AT IU MIN Bye Bye NU Bye
10/4 Bye OSU AT RU NEB AT MD Bye MICH
10/11 AT IOWA Bye PSU AT PUR Bye AT MICH Bye
10/18 MSU IOWA Bye AT IU RU Bye AT OSU
10/25 Bye AT UW AT MSU MICH AT PSU OSU AT NEB
11/1 AT MICH AT PSU IU Bye ILL MD UW
11/8 PSU Bye AT NU OSU AT MSU AT IU Bye
11/15 AT RU MSU Bye AT MD AT MIN Bye IU
11/22 AT OSU AT MICH MD RU IU AT ILL AT MSU
11/29 PUR RU AT OSU AT PSU MICH MSU AT MD
12/6 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

West

  • Illinois: at Ohio State; Penn State
  • Iowa: Indiana; at Maryland
  • Minnesota: at Michigan; Ohio State
  • Nebraska: at Michigan State; Rutgers
  • Northwestern at Penn State; Michigan
  • Purdue: Michigan State; at Indiana
  • Wisconsin: Maryland; at Rutgers

Big Ten Conference schedule only below:

WEST ILL IOWA MIN NEB NU PUR UW
9/13  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
9/27 AT NEB AT PUR AT MICH ILL AT PSU IOWA Bye
10/4 PUR Bye Bye AT MSU UW AT ILL AT NU
10/11 AT UW IU NU Bye AT MIN MSU ILL
10/18 Bye AT MD PUR AT NU NEB AT MIN Bye
10/25 MIN Bye AT ILL RU Bye Bye MD
11/1 AT OSU NU Bye PUR AT IOWA AT NEB AT RU
11/8 Bye AT MIN IOWA Bye MICH UW AT PUR
11/15 IOWA AT ILL OSU AT UW Bye Bye NEB
11/22 PSU UW AT NEB MIN AT PUR NU AT IOWA
11/28 NEB AT IOWA
11/29 AT NU AT UW ILL AT IU MIN
12/6 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

[ RELATED: Download the 2014 Big Ten football schedule (PDF) ]

Here’s a look at my winners and losers:

Winners:

Nebraska. Fans won’t like not playing Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State, but I bet Nebraska coaches don’t mind. The home schedule looks soft. But there are trips to Wisconsin and to Michigan State. Still, you have to like the Huskers’ chances in 2014.

Iowa. The Hawkeyes may have gotten the softest cross-division draw, playing host to Indiana and going to Maryland. And look at the four road games—all very winnable: Purdue; Maryland; Minnesota; Illinois. Don’t retire yet, Kirk!

Wisconsin. The Badgers play both Big Ten newcomers for their cross-division foes: Maryland and Rutgers. The Badgers also play Nebraska at home. Gary Andersen has to be smiling.

Rivalries. The last week of the season is loaded with them. And I love Rutgers playing at Maryland in the finale for both schools.

Ohio State and Michigan. The week before they meet, the Buckeyes play Indiana at home and the Wolverines play Maryland at home. Funny how that worked out.

Losers:

Scheduling parity. Neither Nebraska nor Wisconsin will play cross-division games vs. East heavyweights Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State. The Huskers do have to go to Michigan State. But the Badgers miss the Spartans.

Indiana. The Hoosiers have to play at Michigan and at Ohio State.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have arguably the toughest Big Ten slate. Their two cross-division games are doozies: at Michigan; Ohio State. They also play at Nebraska and at Wisconsin. Those are games vs. arguably the Big Ten’s four best teams.

Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ first five Big Ten games are tough: Penn State; Michigan; at Ohio State; at Nebraska; Wisconsin. As you can see, the Scarlet Knights have to play arguably the two toughest West Division foes. Welcome to the club, Rutgers!

Northwestern. In cross-division games, the Wildcats go to Penn State and play host to Michigan. Be ready, Wildcats.

Purdue’s home slate: Iowa; Michigan State; Wisconsin; Northwestern. No Big Ten “elite” schools coming to Ross-Ade, where tickets can be tough to sell.

Illinois. The Fighting Illini have games at Nebraska; at Wisconsin; at Ohio State. Oh, and a trip to Northwestern won’t be a treat, either.

Penn State. The Nittany Lions play at Michigan and vs. Ohio State in a three-week span. They get a bye in-between.

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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18 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (18 Comments)
Reality Check on 5/16/2013 @ 3:12pm EST Said:

My work is done for the summer Tom. Brady Hoke will spoil the party in East Lansing two years in a row . Back is August as we see that 4 and 5 star recruiting class prove that the team in Ann Arbor will be among the top ten in the nation for many years to come. Hung around a little longer this Spring just to gloat over Dantonios poor recruiting class and to torment my MSU little brother fan Doug.

Kevin on 5/16/2013 @ 4:12pm EST Said:

HA HA HA. Typical boasting Wolverine fan. UM barely squeaked by MSU”s worst offense in 10 years, with a majority of their “superstars” back. This year MSU will top Hoke’s little team again, starting a new streak of MSU dominance over a severely over rated, mediocre UM team. UM will be lucky to get 8 wins, 7 is more realistic this fall. BUt, enjoy your delusions UM fans, it should last you until the game. LOL

shookwriter27 on 5/16/2013 @ 4:53pm EST Said:

I’ll miss when Illinois doesn’t play Ohio State. That has been a great rivalry the last twenty five years, or so.

Andy Coppens on 5/16/2013 @ 5:32pm EST Said:

Huh? Where are the “elite” teams at home for Purdue? Nice dig at Wisconsin… You know the three time defending Big Ten champions and a team that Purdue fans love to hate. I don’t know about you, but that game will get the juices flowing in West Lafayette. Come on now…

Common Sense on 5/16/2013 @ 5:46pm EST Said:

um Kevin, our schedule is a cakewalk this year. we should win 9 or 10 games this year. by the way, Blake Countess, our best defender, wasn’t even playing and we held you to just 10 points. MSU’s offense will never be good unless they develop a spread scheme. whatever keeps you asleep at night

Common Sense on 5/16/2013 @ 5:53pm EST Said:

@ Kevin
if a 4-game winning streak against Michigan with 3 against Rich Rod after they dominated MSU for 6 is what you call dominance, then I guess you are an inferior program and that only cares about beating us. Michigan fans will live on if we lose to MSU in a season. MSU fans will not if they lose to us. your record under Dantonio is what I called mediocre, with half his tenure filled with 6 loss seasons. Michigan’s defense is incredible against Pro Set offenses like yours. If you want to us, try using the spread offense if you what a chance

Josh on 5/16/2013 @ 6:01pm EST Said:

@Kevin
You can call him delusional all you want, but not many experts are predicting Michigan to have 7 or 8 wins. Therefore, your post can be considered delusional as well. It is also equally delusional to say MSU will start a new streak on Michigan (though I will admit, MSU playing Michigan twice at home makes a 2-game win streak possible).

Stephen on 5/16/2013 @ 6:58pm EST Said:

Shookwriter,
I think a lot of people don’t get it. Mostly the ones stuck on the Michigan Ohio State games of Bo and Woody.
What they don’t get is that if we as a conference is as dependent on that game today as it was 30 years ago, then all the changes since Penn State has joined has been nothing.

What they also don’t get is other than Michigan, the only team in the conference that has beaten OSU the most times is Illinois.

huskerred on 5/16/2013 @ 8:48pm EST Said:

Utterly dumb founding.

Doug on 5/17/2013 @ 12:37am EST Said:

hey Kevin, Mark is an obsessed Michigan fan who hates on MSU cause he couldn’t get in, so we have to cut him some slack, MSU is going to beat those so called OVERRATED 4 and 5 stars 2 years running, which will make it 6 out of the last 7 and Hoke 1-3 vs MSU. I like how Michigan fans think they’ll be top in the nation, hell they haven’t been top in the big ten since what, 2004? they really are delusional.

Nick on 5/17/2013 @ 12:54pm EST Said:

“Ohio State. Buckeyes have a bye on Sept. 27, then play at Maryland on Oct. 4, then they have another bye on Oct. 11. Two byes in three weeks? Not ideal spacing.”

Ohio State does not have a bye on Sept. 27. They host Cincinnati.

    BTN.com staff on 5/17/2013 @ 3:27pm EST Said:

    We regret that error. We have corrected the story above to reflect this change and apologize for the mistake. Full 2014 Buckeyes schedule at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Common Sense on 5/17/2013 @ 3:40pm EST Said:

@Doug
we never said anything about being tops in the nation. quit putting words in our mouth. Michigan was playing mostly a bunch 3* and low 4* the past few years. 2010 and 2011 were our worst ranked classes since they started ranking them in 2002. the 4* and 5* guys you’re talking about left the team via attrition. Michigan is becoming a lot more talented each year because the blue chip recruits are staying with the program

Doug on 5/17/2013 @ 4:12pm EST Said:

Uncommon sense, AKA Dhani Jones, Rich Rod’s 2010 class was ranked # 10 in the nation, so it’s not like there wasn’t talent there, quit acting like there wasn’t. A lot of fans were saying top in the nation Dhani, maybe not you, but a lot of delusional fans were.

Joseph on 5/17/2013 @ 7:40pm EST Said:

@Andy Coppens
Please don’t act as if Wisconsin was the best team in the BigTen last season.

Joseph on 5/17/2013 @ 8:34pm EST Said:

@Stephen
Ohio State has won 9 of 12 against illinois. It’s hard to miss a rivalry that isn’t really a rivalry.

trampoline on 7/27/2013 @ 10:14pm EST Said:

Awesome post.

mobile marketing on 8/4/2013 @ 9:06am EST Said:

Yes! Finally something about mobile apps for weather alerts.