Breaking down the Big Ten non-con sked

The formula for building a non-conference schedule is pretty standard: play one challenging game vs. a team from a Power 5 league (ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten) and three games vs. foes from “lesser” conferences. And ideally, three of the four games are at home. But, as you can see, not all non-conference games are created equally.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Big Ten’s non-conference schedule.

Power 5 foes: 17
Bowl teams: 24
FCS foes: 11

Foes by Power 5 league
5 (Cal, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Washington State)
ACC: 4 (Pitt, Syracuse, Miami, Virginia Tech)
Big 12: 3 (Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia)
SEC: 2 (LSU, Missouri)

The MAC remains a Big Ten favorite, as the conferences will meet 11 times. Bowling Green plays two Big Ten teams (Indiana and Wisconsin).

Notre Dame is popular, too, as it will play three Big Ten foes (Purdue, Michigan, Northwestern)

[ MORE: Your Big Ten team’s toughest non-conference game ]

Most Power 5 foes:
2 (Iowa; Maryland; Michigan; Northwestern)
Most bowl teams: 3 (Indiana; Ohio State; Rutgers)
Fewest Power 5 foes: 0 (Penn State)
Fewest bowl teams: 1 (Illinois; Maryland; Michigan; Michigan State; Minnesota; Penn State; Purdue)
Fewest FCS foes: 0 (Michigan, Ohio State; Penn State)
Worst combined record of non-conference foes: 18-31 (Michigan)
Best combined record of non-conference foes: 36-15 (Nebraska)
Fewest true road games: 0 (Ohio State; Purdue; Purdue; Wisconsin)

[ MORE: Check out Tom Dienhart’s 2014 schedule analysis posts ]

Foes: Youngstown State; Western Kentucky; at Washington; Texas State
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 31-18
Comment: Two Sun Belt teams and a FCS foe? Should go 3-1. NEED to go 3-1.

Foes: Indiana State; at Bowling Green; at Missouri; North Texas
Power 5: 1
Bowl teams: 3
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 32-21
Comment: Hoosiers, Rutgers and Maryland are only teams with two road games in non-league action.

Foes: Northern Iowa; Ball State; Iowa State; at Pitt
Power 5 foes: 2
Bowl teams: 2
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 27-23
Comment: A first glance, this looks easy. But it’s a tougher slate than you think.

Foes: James Madison; at South Florida; West Virginia; at Syracuse
Power 5 foes: 2
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 19-30
Comment: Terps will be fortunate to go 2-2.

Foes: Appalachian State, at Notre Dame; Miami (Ohio); Utah
Power 5 foes: 2
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 0
Combined record: 18-31
Comment: Could App State pull another stunner? Miami went winless last season. If Michigan isn’t 3-1, it may be in trouble.

Foes: Jacksonville State; at Oregon; Eastern Michigan; Wyoming
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 29-23
Comment: Win in Eugene, and the Spartans may run the table.

Foes: Eastern Illinois; Middle Tennessee; at TCU; San Jose State
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 30-21
Comment: EIU is a great FCS program, going 12-2 last year. Trip to TCU will be good measuring stick.

Foes: Florida Atlantic; McNeese State; at Fresno State; Miami (Fla.)
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 2
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 36-15
Comment: Fresno State won 11 games. Visit from Miami will be a hot ticket. McNeese a 10-win FCS foe.

Foes: Cal; Northern Illinois; Western Illinois; at Notre Dame
Power 5 foes: 2
Bowl teams: 2
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 26-18
Comment: A rugged slate highlight by Wildcats’ first trip to ND since magical 1995 season.

Foes: Navy (at Baltimore); Virginia Tech; Kent State; Cincinnati
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 3
FCS foes: 0
Combined record: 30-21
Comment: Buckeyes will play no true road game. Visit from Hokies could be perilous.

Foes: UCF (in Dublin, Ireland); Akron; UMass; Temple
Power 5 foes: 0
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 0
Combined record: 20-29
Comment: UCF is coming off a season for the ages, going 12-1. UMass and Temple were awful.

Foes: Western Michigan; Central Michigan; Notre Dame (at Indianapolis); Southern Illinois
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 1
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 23-26
Comment: Boilermakers need to go 3-1. Purdue played ND in first game ever in old Hoosier Dome in 1984.

Foes: Washington State (in Seattle); Howard; at Navy; Tulane
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 3
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 28-23
Comment: Tougher than you think. Could Scarlet Knights go 2-2?

Foes: LSU (at Houston); Western Illinois; Bowling Green; South Florida
Power 5 foes: 1
Bowl teams: 2
FCS foes: 1
Combined record: 26-25
Comment: A win vs. LSU would be a huge confidence boost. Beware Bowling Green.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
tony on 6/2/2014 @ 2:29pm EDT Said:

App State is no longer FCS…..

zacman83 on 6/2/2014 @ 3:48pm EDT Said:

These are my three intriguing, under-the-radar games:
Minnesota @ TCU…If the Gophers think that they belong in the upper tier of the B1G, they need to beat lower-tier Big 12 teams like TCU, even on the road.
Iowa @ Pitt…The Hawkeyes are eyeing a division title but unless they take care of business against ISU and Pitt (and maybe even then!), the rest of the country will roll its eyes at the Black & Gold.
Cincy @ Ohio State…Navy, Va. Tech, and Cincy all look to be solid bowl teams, but none should beat the Buckeyes. Still, the Bearcats have the most riding on an in-state matchup and can make this a close one.

James on 6/2/2014 @ 8:06pm EDT Said:

Notre Dame should just join the B1G but they wont…

Ryan Progin on 6/2/2014 @ 9:01pm EDT Said:

When all of these schedules were made, playing a Big East team meant playing a BCS team. It wasn’t until after these schedules were made that the Big East became The American and the BCS became the CFP + the Power of 5 Conferences.

There are 6 games against 5 current The American teams in 2014 (more than any Power of 5 Conference)… not to mention the argument made about when the schedule was made, Pitt, WVU, and Syracuse were Big East and Tulane and UCF were not.

My personal opinion is that every B1G team should be playing 1 PAC12 or ACC team, 1 SEC or ACC team, 1 The American / CUSA team, and 1 MAC team every year. I am a big fan of the B1G playing a MAC school because it makes sense geographically (less travel expenses = more money all around in pockets).

Finally, you mentioned that Temple was terrible last year. True. But give the school some credit. They have gone through 3 coaches in 4 seasons (Al Golden and Steve Addazio both making the jump to ACC teams) after becoming a respectable program after years of being the joke.