The Big Ten office announced the conference schedule for the 2014 football season today, as approved by the Big Ten Directors of Athletics. The 2014 schedule will consist of eight games for each of the Big Ten’s 14 teams, feature a new division alignment, include the conference debut of Maryland and Rutgers and culminate with the fourth annual Big Ten Football Championship Game.
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Minnesota junior-to-be Joe Coleman was granted a release from his scholarship, the Gophers announced Wednesday afternoon. Coleman, who averaged 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in two seasons in Minneapolis, will seek a transfer. The guard will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Things set up well for Nebraska, which opens with five games at home and doesn’t leave Lincoln until Oct. 12 (at Purdue). It wouldn’t be a shock if Nebraska is 8-0 when it travels to Michigan on Nov. 9 in the only game the Huskers may not be favored in all season. Bottom line: This schedule greases the skids for Nebraska’s return trip to the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers pursue the program’s first conference title since 1999.
This schedule is built for success – at least the first half of it. It opens with four of the first five games coming at home. And Minnesota should be favored in each one. Could the Golden Gophers be 5-0 when they travel to Michigan on Oct. 5? Hmm. And—don’t look now—but Minnesota has a good chance to be 5-3 when it plays at Indiana on Nov. 2. But a loss to the improving Hoosiers would make getting a sixth win very difficult with a challenging last few games.
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At its spring meetings in Chicago, the Big Ten may discuss if it should have divisional play in basketball, as Rutgers and Maryland are set to join the league in 2014 to make the conference a 14-team entity. My advice: The Big Ten should take a lead from the other major conferences—ACC (12 teams), SEC (14), Pac-12 (12), old Big East (15), Atlantic 10 (16)–and not have divisional play.
The schedule is pretty kind to a Michigan State program coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw MSU lose five games by a combined 13 points. If the Spartans can win at Notre Dame on Sept. 21, they could be 8-0 when they welcome Michigan on Nov. 2.