By now you’ve heard that the Big 10 is dropping non-conference games for all fall sports, with a possibility of adding a tenth game. What nobody has been brave enough to ask is: why stop at 10? The Big 10 could have played 10 conference games as soon as Penn State joined. Now the conference has 14 teams, the perfect amount to play a full slate of conference games and complain that your team didn’t make it to Indianapolis because they had to play (insert team here) and the division winner didn’t.
If the conference is going to pretend that playing college football is a good idea, why not just push the level of dumb as far as it can go with putting a dozen games on the schedule? Most of the work has already been done for us, as the 9-game conference schedule for this year has been set for a while. We just need to pick three of the four teams not on the schedule, pick a week for the matchup, make Northwestern change their hotel reservations in Happy Valley, and boom: a 12 game Big 10 football schedule.
Let’s get started. If you want to follow along, here’s my notes. If you don’t, that’s a great instinct.
I started by creating two grids to work off of - one a week-by-week schedule of each team to indicate where they were currently playing, and one showing the inter-division matchups already on the slate. This way I could keep an eye on who had available weeks, and who was already scheduled. There was one game readily available - Iowa and Michigan on Halloween, which is the latest game I added. October 17th, November 7th and 14th all had two teams not playing, but since both were in the same division that game already existed.
In which I realize that Northwestern already was screwing with my plans. After the non-conference games were cancelled, Northwestern had availability on 9/12, 9/19, 10/10 and 11/14. They had no available opponent on 11/14, and the only option on 10/10 was Penn State. That game is currently scheduled on 9/26.
Or should I say, was scheduled. In the interest of as much football as possible, the Wildcats trip to Happy Valley has been changed to 10/10. I can hear the dozens of Wildcat fans that were planning to travel to The Middle Of Nowhere, Pennsylvania for their once-every-six-years pilgrimage wailing that this is what caused their travel plans to change. If you wanted to be consulted about it, might I suggest contacting your union rep. Northwestern now plays Indiana that day, and that’s the bottom line.
This phase also sees the schedule taking a Sudoku-esque turn, where the possible matchups for each team in the East are added. This gets us to lock in our opening week slate. Maryland and Michigan, get ready for 12 straight weeks of conference football, because you’ll be on a bye Labor Day.
The possible matchups for each West team’s week are added, as well as Ohio State-Wisconsin on 10/3.
Phases 4 and 5
The biggest “ah-ha” moment here was putting Ohio State and Penn State’s bye on 9/19. In the original schedule, there’s exactly one conference game that weekend, when Iowa and Minnesota battle for the Floyd of Rosedale. Since we absolutely did not want to alter their tribute to Wisconsin’s most notorious speed trap, that also means two teams in the East can’t play. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions didn’t have a bye scheduled, so I breathe a sigh of relief that this essential work can continue.
Honestly, at this point I think I tried one matchup and everything fell into place nicely. At that point, it was lining up six home and six away games for everyone.
The Twelve Game B1G Conference Schedule
|9/5/2020||Northwestern||Michigan State||Originally Scheduled|
|9/26/2020||Rutgers||Ohio State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/3/2020||Michigan State||Iowa||Originally Scheduled|
|10/3/2020||Penn State||Michigan||Originally Scheduled|
|10/10/2020||Northwestern||Penn State||Moved from 9/26|
|10/10/2020||Iowa||Ohio State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/10/2020||Michigan||Michigan State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/17/2020||Iowa||Penn State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/17/2020||Ohio State||Michigan State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/24/2020||Michigan State||Indiana||Originally Scheduled|
|10/24/2020||Ohio State||Penn State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/31/2020||Minnesota||Michigan State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/31/2020||Nebraska||Ohio State||Originally Scheduled|
|10/31/2020||Penn State||Indiana||Originally Scheduled|
|11/7/2020||Indiana||Ohio State||Originally Scheduled|
|11/7/2020||Penn State||Nebraska||Originally Scheduled|
|11/14/2020||Michigan State||Penn State||Originally Scheduled|
|11/14/2020||Ohio State||Maryland||Originally Scheduled|
|11/21/2020||Maryland||Penn State||Originally Scheduled|
|11/21/2020||Ohio State||Illinois||Originally Scheduled|
|11/21/2020||Rutgers||Michigan State||Originally Scheduled|
|11/28/2020||Michigan||Ohio State||Originally Scheduled|
|11/28/2020||Michigan State||Maryland||Originally Scheduled|
|11/28/2020||Penn State||Rutgers||Originally Scheduled|
Indiana, sorry about three straight road games to open the season, but you’re Team Chaos and you’ll thrive in this environment.
Now, naysayers will point out that that this might not be in the best idea, as the increase in travel and exposure to a wide amount of different people is the exact environment that a respiratory illness thrives in. Voluntary training camps have already been postponed or shut down due to large amounts of positive COVID-19 tests. Adding more football games is absurd.
Great, you get it.