Big Ten expansion has brought rivalry football back to its final weekend.
Each school received a season-ending rivalry assignment for the 2014 league schedule, which was released today by the league office. The schedule was revamped to accommodate newcomers Rutgers and Maryland, who join the Big Ten in 2014. The league also shifted into East and West divisions, and only one non-divisional match-up takes place over the regular season’s final four weeks.
As expected, Michigan-Ohio State reignites their annual rivalry game in Columbus as the season finale. The Big Ten flagship football programs have ended every regular season against one another since 1943.
Indiana-Purdue continues their season-ending tradition of facing off in a Big Ten finale, this time for the second straight year in Bloomington. Only once in the last 95 years have the schools not completed their Big Ten seasons against one another (1931). They’ll do it this time as non-divisional foes, the league’s only non-divisional game (and only protected crossover rivalry) to end the season.
“I hope that keeps up,” Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass said.
Iowa and Nebraska will face off for the fourth time on Black Friday, their second Friday game in Iowa City. The Cornhuskers have won the first two meetings since joining the Big Ten in 2011.
Penn State and Michigan State will end their seasons against one other for the first time since 2010. They played 18 consecutive seasons and were protected rivals under the 11-team structure. For the final 17 seasons, the schools ended their Big Ten seasons against the other school.
When the league split into Legends and Leaders divisions in 2011, the teams went opposite ways. They did not play in 2011 or 2012 and are not scheduled to meet in 2013.
Athletics directors at both schools said they like the series but wouldn’t consider it a priority to extend it as a permanent season-ending game.
“I think Penn State is a good game for us,” Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. “I’m not sure that’s a game carries the tradition of making that a priority in the scheduling process. You’ll see it in some years, and you’ll not see it in some others. I really don’t know because we don’t have the ’15 schedule yet.”
“We haven’t talked about it directly, but that could happen,” Penn State Athletics Director Dave Joyner said. “It may vary some. In the (current) divisions, we were playing Wisconsin in almost every ending game. It wasn’t dictated it was going to happen, but it was going to go on for the next five or six years anyway.”
Wisconsin faced Penn State to end the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons, and the teams were slated to finish against one another through 2016.
The Badgers will face their oldest rival, Minnesota, to conclude their regular season. The teams have played more often than any other two Division I rivals. The last time they concluded their regular seasons against one another was 2007.
Illinois and Northwestern will conclude their 108th meeting at Evanston, while Rutgers and Maryland finish their first year as Big Ten competitors against one another.
Rutgers’ Big Ten debut begins Sept. 13 against Penn State. It’s the only Big Ten game through the first four weeks of the regular season.
Maryland’s first Big Ten game is held at Indiana on Sept. 27. The Terrapins’ home league opener is slated against Ohio State on Oct. 4.
Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue and Nebraska all have three-week stretches where they do not have home games. All four are scheduled with two road games and a bye during that span. It’s possible any of them could schedule a non-conference game during their bye to fill a three-week void.
Iowa and Illinois play for the first time since 2008 on Nov. 15 in Champaign. The teams will go eight years — 2007 through 2015 — before facing off in Iowa City.
Even with the geographical shift in divisions, the league kept a a pair of long-played trophy games in rotation for at least one year. Michigan and Minnesota, which have competed since 1909 for the Little Brown Jug, will open the Big Ten slate against one another at Ann Arbor. Illinois and Ohio State, which have played for the Illibuck since 1925, play Nov. 1 in Columbus.
Wisconsin and Michigan will not play one another for at least four consecutive seasons.
Wisconsin also will play at Iowa City for the third consecutive meeting. The Badgers were scheduled to face the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in 2010, 2013 and now 2014. The rivals’ last game in Madison was in 2009.
Minnesota shook off its cycle of playing regional draws Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska in the same season by getting Iowa in back-to-back years. The Hawkeyes play at Minnesota on Nov. 8. It marks the fourth time in five seasons (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) Iowa plays the Gophers in Minneapolis.
Newcomers Maryland and Rutgers earned a rough initiation to the Big Ten. Rutgers’ first five games are against Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Maryland sees perpetual upper-division teams Wisconsin and Iowa as its crossover games.
The 2014 season is the second consecutive season where schools will play 12 games over 14 weeks. The regular 12-game, 13-week rotation begins in 2015.
Sept. 13 — Penn State at Rutgers
Sept. 27 — Maryland at Rutgers; Northwestern at Penn State
Oct. 4 — Ohio State at Maryland; Nebraska at Michigan State; Wisconsin at Northwestern
Oct. 11 — Penn State at Michigan
Oct. 18 — Nebraska at Northwestern
Oct. 25 — Michigan at Michigan State; Ohio State at Penn State
Nov. 1 — Northwestern at Iowa; Illinois at Ohio State
Nov. 8 — Ohio State at Michigan State; Michigan at Northwestern; Iowa at Minnesota
Nov. 15 — Iowa at Illinois; Nebraska at Wisconsin
Nov. 22 — Wisconsin at Iowa
Nov. 28 — Nebraska at Iowa
Nov. 29 — Michigan at Ohio State; Purdue at Indiana; Rutgers at Maryland; Michigan State at Penn State; Minnesota at Wisconsin; Illinois at Northwestern
Indiana: Purdue, at Iowa
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
Illinois: Penn State, at Ohio State
Iowa: Indiana, at Maryland
Minnesota: Ohio State, at Michigan
Nebraska: Rutgers, at Michigan State
Northwestern: Michigan, at Penn State
Purdue: Michigan State, at Indiana
Wisconsin: Maryland, at Rutgers
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