Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 1, 2016
For the first time since 1984, the Big Ten will play nine conference games. Schools will play the other six teams in their division ? and three from the opposite division. And, schedule strengths can vary a great deal based on which schools a team does not have to play from the other division.
Here is a look at the teams from the East that Big West clubs will miss. They are ranked on the winning percentage of the teams they miss.
1. Minnesota: Michigan (10-3), Michigan State (12-2), Ohio State (12-1), Indiana (6-7)
Record: 40-13 (.755)
Comment: Forgive Tracy Claeys if he?s smiling about his good fortune. No Big Ten misses a group of cross-division foes with a higher winning percentage. And no Big Ten team misses four bowls teams. This slate is built for success. Will Claeys cash in taking on Rutgers, Maryland and Penn State?
2. Purdue: Michigan (10-3), Michigan State (12-2), Ohio State (12-1), Rutgers (3-9)
Record: 37-15 (.712)
Comment: With just six wins in three years, the Boilermakers need a gift from the scheduling god ? and they got one, missing the Wolverines, Spartans and Buckeyes. It's the equivalent of winning the scheduling lottery. But Penn State looms.
3. Iowa: Ohio State (12-1), Michigan State (12-2), Maryland (3-9), Indiana (6-7)
Record: 33-19 (.635)
Comment: Jack pot! The Hawkeyes miss the Buckeyes and Spartans. They may be the two best teams in the Big Ten. But Iowa must play Michigan and Penn State. Still, this menu sets up for a return to Nap Town for the Big Ten's big game in December.
4. Nebraska: Michigan (10-3), Michigan State (12-2), Rutgers (4-8), Penn State (7-6)
Record: 33-19 (.623)
Comment: The Huskers get a break trying to rebound from last year?s 6-7 clunker, as they miss two double-digit win teams from the East. But Nebraska has a date with Ohio State from the East.
5. Illinois: Maryland (3-9), Penn State (7-6), Ohio State (12-1), Indiana (6-7)
Record: 28-23 (.549)
Comment: Lovie Smith?s maiden voyage is helped by not playing Ohio State. Still, cross-division tilts with Michigan and Michigan State will be tough for an Illini program that is in transition.
6. Northwestern: Michigan (10-3), Penn State (7-6), Rutgers (4-8), Maryland (3-9)
Record: 24-26 (.480)
Comment: The Wildcats don?t get any big breaks, having to play Ohio State and Michigan State from the East. What?s it mean? Trying to match last year?s 10-win total may be tough.
7. Wisconsin: Rutgers (4-8), Maryland (3-9), Penn State (7-6), Indiana (6-7)
Record: 20-30 (.400)
Comment: Last year?s cushy to-do list is ancient history. The Badgers have the most brutal slate in the Big Ten. They miss three East teams that had losing records in 2015. And Wisconsin must play Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. Crank up ?Jump Around? really loud, Bucky.