The Big Ten released the 2014 football schedule on Thursday, laying out for the first time how conference action will look with Maryland and Rutgers in the fold. Gone, of course, are the Leaders and Legends divisions in favor of the geographically-oriented East and West.
Each team has two crossovers to the other division, and with parity-based scheduling not beginning until 2016, the early returns look weak. Wisconsin in particular seems to have an easy path to Indianapolis out of the West division.
|Oct. 4||at Northwestern|
|Nov. 1||at Rutgers|
|Nov. 8||at Purdue|
|Nov. 22||at Iowa|
|Dec. 6||BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME|
So, no Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State or Penn State. Both of Wisconsin's crossover games are the two newcomers, with Maryland at home on Oct. 25 and Rutgers away the next weekend. The Badgers also get two byes on Sept. 13 and Oct. 18. Most of the Big Ten is off that first bye, save for Penn State and Rutgers. Pretty, pretty soft -- but keep in mind the LSU game could potentially slide into one of those empty spots. Needless to say, that would change, well, everything.
Wisconsin also ends the season vs. Minnesota, which is pretty cool. Imagine clinching the West Division and a championship game berth while seizing the Ax in another trouncing of the Gophers?
Keep in mind, too, that Bowling Green is on the docket for Sept. 20 and South Florida is scheduled for Sept. 27. The remainder of the non-conference schedule remains up in the air, especially with the ongoing LSU negotiations temporarily overriding an agreement to play at Washington State.
Update: One more non-conference game is set: Wisconsin will host Western Illinois on Sept. 6. That leaves Aug. 30 or Sept. 13 vacant for the final non-conference spot. Hello, LSU?