September 1st, 2010
08:20 PM ET

Big Ten spells out its new football divisions

Bitter rivals Ohio State and Michigan won't be in the same division when the Big Ten reorganizes its football setup in 2011. But they still will play each other every year and, if they're both good enough, possibly even twice.

The Big Ten on Wednesday announced the alignments of its two new football divisions, which will debut when the conference expands to 12 schools by adding Nebraska next year. The introduction of the divisions - the conference currently has no such thing - will allow for a new conference championship game akin to those played in some other big conferences, with the winner of each division battling for the title.

The alignments for the new divisions, which have yet to be named, are as follows:

- Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin in one division.

- Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern in the other.

Each school will play its five division mates every year. Each school also will face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division school that it will be guaranteed to face annually, according to the Big Ten.

The guaranteed cross-division match-ups, some of which keep intact longstanding rivalries, are Ohio State-Michigan, Illinois-Northwestern, Wisconsin-Minnesota, Indiana-Michigan State, Penn State-Nebraska and Purdue-Iowa.

The Big Ten's 2011 and 2012 conference schedules have been posted on its website.

"Over the past several months, Big Ten staff and directors of athletics have met on several occasions to discuss and finalize division alignments," Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said. "We focused on competitive equality, traditional rivalries and geography.

"We considered multiple models and countless permutations in an effort to achieve the most competitively balanced divisions while at the same time respecting our traditions, preserving existing rivalries and creating opportunities for the establishment and growth of new rivalries. We have listened to the feedback from our institutions, alumni and fans, and while we understand that no final alignments could possibly satisfy all of our constituents, we believe that we have achieved a very exciting result."

The Big Ten's first football championship game will be held December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. That game will determine the conference’s participant in the Rose Bowl or the Bowl Championship Series national championship game.

Nebraska announced earlier this year that it was bolting its current conference, the Big 12, for the Big Ten.

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soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. bill

    i like 2 divisions, but would still like more non-conference games for national perception, 9 games in big ten and 3 non conference keeps too many games in conference, id prefer to see 4 or 5 non conference games to set up more big game matchups vs other schools for recognition

    September 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmmmmm

      I could be wrong but I think they will still play 4 non conference games. They will only play 8 conference games, 5 in division and 3 cross division, one of those 3 being the protected game. Only the 2 winners would then play a ninth conference game for the championship, which is an extra game, not taking the place of a non conference game....i think

      September 2, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      9 conference games is not being considered until the 2015 season.

      September 2, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. lynn

    As an Indiana U alum, the Purdue rivalry is far more important and long~standing than the one with Michigan State. IU and PU MUST play one another!

    September 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Because IU and Purdue will be in the same division, they will play each other every year. Each team will play every team in its division every year, and they also will play three teams from the other division, including one they're guaranteed to play every year. In IU's case, that guaranteed cross-division team is Michigan State. But they're still going to play Purdue every year.

      September 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • AM

      they do play every year you play everyone in your conference.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      As an IU alum as well, I couldn't agree more. Who cares about the Michigan State/IU rivalry? Go to any bookstore in B-Town and all you see is IU/Purdue merchandise. Plus, it's the only time of year that IU football fans get excited. Here's the question though...if this new alignment truly values keeping rivalries intact, why were Michigan and OSU put in separate divisions??

      September 2, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparty

      Ha – how do you think we feel?!? I didn't even know IU was a rival? At least we have a protected 'W' on the schedule...

      September 2, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • GladImnotanindianaUalum

      lol, both you Indiana grads fail to put 2 and 2 together. Maybe they should worry less about football and more about reading out there in them fields. How you 'spose to run the combine if u cant read dem der instructions.

      September 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • GladImnotanindianaUalum

      oh Andrew...i finished reading your're alumni of an accredited university??? Only in America I guess...

      September 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jess

    This is the worst possible situation.

    September 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chuck

    What a debacle. Delaney should step down at long last.

    September 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JohnnyP

    Just when we were getting balance in the league (Instead of the big 2 / litlle 8), it looks like they are setting us up for the big 4 / little 8 situation. Once again, we end up with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, and the little 8.. Try selling tickets to the little 8 games or getting recruits to come to the little 8 schools.

    Also, I don't see why they couldn't have gone with a Northern / Southern division configuration, or an Western / Eastern division configuration, and kept some of the other long-standing rivalries??

    Does the Big 10/12 want balance for all schools?? I think the setup answers that question. And how many of the little 8 will get to a decent bowl game??

    September 2, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I think you're mistaken. The big 4 will be Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Iowa.

      September 2, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Wisconsin is right up in the top 4 in the Big Ten in the Alvarez Era (1990- present). Look at overall record, conference record, Bowl appearances, Bowl record (including 3 Rose Bowl wins: 10-5), home attendance. I also think you'll find that Badger fans pack in the stadiums all over the country. We've had some great college players too. You can ask the 2009 Miami team how good the Badgers are.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • John in Nebraska

      I think you are wrong about the ticket sales. Nebraska fans go to ALL the games and the revenue that is generated will very much help the "little 8" teams. This is mostly because NE fans have a tendency to be older and less annoying than most college age fans, and have more money to spend. Now that I think about it, the local economies should get quite a boost from NE too! I gotta admit that it will feel good to get away from having to play Colorado and its disgraceful fans that act like high-school kids on steroids. Playing IA will be lotsa fun and that is gonna set some attendance records for the IA home games. I think the big 10 is gonna like having NE around, they are just a great team and great fans overall.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessie

      Might want to actually look at both records and attendance, including consecutive sellouts, before putting Wisconsin in the "little 8".

      September 2, 2010 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • valkyries

      I agree with David, Wisconsin has a solid football tradition. This is coming from a neutral east coast football fan.

      September 2, 2010 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Congressman

      Wisconsin is in the "little 8" ?? and good luck selling tickets to a Wisconsin game ??? Not sure you fully understand or pay attention to the Big10 teams because this is clearly not the case in football OR basketball.

      September 2, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. wildwohl

    Does this mean that Ohio State will add losing the Big-10 Championship every year to its list of losing to the SEC in the BCS Championship everytime?

    September 2, 2010 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Mordred

      Yes it does!

      September 2, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Go Appalachain State. Don't hate because the Buckeyes are dominant every year.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      nice spelling!

      Appalachian, not Appalachain, idiot. No wonder you like Ohio State.

      Go Blue!

      September 2, 2010 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Hey James, you Michigan girls keep winning spelling bees....while the Buckeyes keep winning the Big 10. When you lose to APPALACHIAN STATE you lose the right to talk about college football. Isn't it time for your spelling better log off and run along now

      September 2, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. ~Chele

    You have just brought war to my home. Though now instead of it being the North vs the South... It will be the North vs the Midwest. Let's go Penn State. *\o/* Gotta get my school's shout out in before the "other side" reads this article!

    September 2, 2010 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Doris


      September 2, 2010 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Silver Bullet


      September 2, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Bucks


      September 2, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • kuntryboyeeejake


      September 2, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Steve851

    An East West split would have made more sense. However, the 2011 schedule sets up well for my school, NU, except for the game at UNL

    September 2, 2010 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Confused

    Does the Big Ten have 12 teams?
    Have they thought about changing the name?

    September 2, 2010 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Mordred

      Yes and whats even sadder...someone finishes 11th and 12th. ;Q

      September 2, 2010 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • John K

      If they've played the last 16 years with eleven teams, why would they change the name now?

      September 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lilyjumper

    As a Hawkeye fan I'm excited about the addition of Nebraska and that we'll start off with them in our division to play each year. I think that has potential for a new rivalry series. Although the Iowa/ Michigan game has always been my personal favorite.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
    • CHall Hawkeye

      But the fixed cross-division game for Iowa will be against Purdue? That's ridiculous!! What about Wisconsin & the Heartland Trophy? What about Illinois? Asinine

      September 2, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • IA John in NE

      The Iowa/Nebraska rivalry will be a great one. Nebraska will get to play the REAL team from Iowa instead of the Clones. Oh wait, didn't Nebraska lose to Iowa State last year? Ha ha!

      September 2, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      I agree with CHall. I'm glad they kept the cross-rivalry of Wis / Minn because it's the longest running college contest (the Axe) but Iowa / Wis is just as important. The Jug will now stay in one place for more than one year at times. I'm excited to bring Neb. into the conference...but this is weird.

      September 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    I'm going to be very disappointed if this means that the final game of MSU's schedule will no longer be Penn State due to them being in different divisions and apparently not being guaranteed an annual game.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sparty Fan

    I can go with the fist 3 being rivals, but Indianna v Michigan State? Penn State v Nebraska? Iowa v Purdue? I would think Penn State v Michigan State, Indianna v Purdue, and Iowa v Nebraska would make more sense. I hate losing Penn State as the last game of the year!!! Indiana v Purdue is a bigger rivalry and if you are gonna give the new guys, Nebraska, a rival....I would think Iowa would be the perfect choice.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      If some of these Big 10 fans went to Big 10 schools, their lack of reading comprehension skills speaks poorly for the quality of the education provided by what I've always thought were some fine schools. Like the SEC schedule, each school plays all of the schools within its division. The rivalry games maintain some cross-division games every year. The other cross-division match-ups rotate. Over the course of a decade, every school will play every other school.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      To be fair Bill, most Big 10 fans didn't go to Big 10 schools, but I can't say that the quality of education I've received at both the University of Michigan and at Michigan State University are anything less than impressive. Anyways the fact that MSU PSU is no longer an annual match-up is very disappointing.

      September 2, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff

    Hey Sparty – IU&PU and Iowa&Neb WILL play each other every year, since they are in each others' conferences. Those rivalries will remain intact. Only the MSU&PU game will be lacking. Hopefully your lack of understanding will bode well for my Hoosiers, if the Spartan players posess this same comprehension skill level you display.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    I Love the new set up. Change is hard for all of us but without change, we would never be able to move forward. Lets not be big Ten haters rather lets stick together and kick the SEC's face in. I am an Ohio State fan but I will cheer on all Big Ten teams vs. other conferences. Go Buckeyes!

    September 2, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Silver Bullet

      The set up is ok. But the Bucks don't play Northwestern or Iowa the first two years. Kinda weird.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kimberly

    I'm surprised they split up Wisconsin and Minnesota. Granted, they'll still play each other every year, but splitting up the longest rivalry in Division 1 is just stupid.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      If they are still playing each other every year how is the rivalry split up?

      September 2, 2010 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Badger Fan

      Rivalry goes further than one game a year. Other than the one game per year WI will have nothing at stake with MN, Iowa, or any Michigan team except for maybe a championship game. For WI we lose all boarding state rivalries except for Illinois. Not too mention for fans of WI, traveling to away games just became a bigger challenge, same for Penn State and OSU fans having to travel to WI. Factor in little things like different time zone etc. and it's even worse.

      However, with the cross division rivalry games being OSU/Mich, PennSt/Nebraska, and WI/MN., I think WI has the easiest divisional schedule.

      September 2, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • John K

      "Rivalry goes further than one game a year." What does that mean exactly? Did MN and WI play each other twice each year up until now? If the teams still play each other on a yearly basis, then the rivalry hasn't changed at all. The only thing that has changed is the addition of the slim possibility that a second game could be played for a conference championship.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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