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. Steve - in OH but Purdue alum/fan

    I agree that they got the story wrong. Purdue and IU are each other's greatest rivals. I don't know where the supposed Purdue-Iowa rivalry came from.

    I'm not very concerned about IA, as they were in the cellar not too long ago. They, like most schools, have ups and downs.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. bt587kent

    I had the divisions correct except Minnesota & Illinois. I feel it would have made more sense to keep ILL/NW (in-state rivals) in the same division. Then, Minneosta/Wisconsin would have been preserved anyway. THEN you could have Misconsin/Iowa as the preserved cross-division game, switched to Purdue/Northwestern, Illinois/Indiana, & Mich St/Minnesota. It would have made it easier when they go to 9 game conference schedule also.

    EXAMPLE: Top 3 teams in each division are considered "Group A" teams, bottom 3 "group B. team in Parentheses are the annual cross division rival.
    A)
    Michigan (Ohio St) Ohio St. (Michigan)
    Nebraska (Penn St.) Penn St (Nebraska)
    Iowa (Wisconsin) Wisconsin (Iowa)
    B)
    Michigan St (Minnesota) Minnesota (Michigan St)
    Northwestern (Purdue) Purdue (Northwestern)
    Illinois (Indiana) Indiana (Illinois)

    Here's what makes it fair and balanced. Each group A team protected game versus another group A team. Same goes for group B vs Group B. So for the group A team, Nebraska for example, Nebraska has protected game vs Penn St. That means Nebraska can play EITHER Ohio St or Wisconsin on a home & home for next 2yrs then switch to the other team. They will also play (2) teams from Group B. One will rotate out every 2yrs

    So you have 5 division games and 4 cross-division games. 2 cross division games versus the traditional powers and 2 games against the other teams. It is fair, it is balanced. I think they did ok with the split, but I think this way would have made more sense.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • BuckeyeChuck

      I completely agree. Iowa/Purdue as the protected cross-division game! Come on! Put Minnesota in Wisconsin's division and you continue the tradition of the longest continuous rivalry. then you can Play Wisconsin/Iowa as the protected game. That game has so much more appeal because they are neighbor states. Illinois in with Northwestern makes the in-state rivalry game a divisional game. The cross division game Purdue/Northwestern makes more sense than Iowa/Purdue.

      September 2, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Steve - in OH but Purdue alum/fan

    I should mention , too, that Purdue and IU still play each other in the final game - at least in 2011 and 2012.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. valkyries

    Hmmm, will the Big 10 start winning more bowl games now?

    September 2, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • PeteFanortney

      Yes. Because the Big Ten split up into two divisions and will have a championship game, they now will start winning more bowl games.

      September 2, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rudy NYC

    I thought the current Big 10 logo was clever. When you looked at, you could see eleven in the Big 10. I wonder what they will come up with now.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • ChiefIlliniwek

      That's a very good observation Rudy. I suspect a lot of people have never caught the graphical reference to Big 10/11. I'm also looking forward to the unveiling of a new logo and hope it's just as creative.

      September 2, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      I've been calling them the Big 10 (12), and Big 12 (10)...

      September 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nikoli

    I would argue that Penn State vs. Nebraska is a rivalry and definitely the most significant rivalry for Nebraska compared to any other Big 10 teams. Goes back to '94 when both finished undefeated, but Nebraska got voted as Nat'l Champs a rivalry has brewed and us Penn State fans have not liked Nebraska ever since. I was attending PSU when Nebraska came back up for a regular season game and it was a huge deal to "get revenge" for that '94 season. PSU did Ki-Jana Carter proud in that one.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • eferg

      yeah , I was at the game. and I remember how terrible the Penn State Fans treated the Nebraska people. The chancelor of Penn State had to apologize. I USE to respect Penn St, but not any more. Paterno is a nice guy, that is all Penn State has. By the way , Nebraska beat Penn State the next year, remember that? Nebraska people still treated Penn State good. Nebraska would have won the 94 game anyway, much better team. Nebraska had the 94-95 undefeated seasons. Penn St would not have stood a chance. By the way Penn St already stole a champion year from Nebraska by a referee cheating for Penn State in the 80's a 1 yard out of bounds pass called good by the ref. Do me a favor, keep your Penn State hate to yourself.

      September 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seedz

      Nebraska and Penn State have a "rivalry" from ONE game 15 years ago?? Look around the Big 10 to see some actual football rivalries, instead of some made up junk.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flip

      Blackledge to bowman for the win in 1982, I can still remember seeing the T-shirts with the extra field where Bowman caught the ball, printed on them. Nebraska fans are very long in the tooth with their memories, and that is a game that older NU fans will always remember. I doubt there is a single NU fan who does not want to get a rivalry brewing with PSU. Us NU fans understand how bad it sux to lose a big rival each season, (OU vs NU), but in the landscape about money, fans are left scratching their heads.

      September 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nikoli

    Also, I think PSU vs. MSU is a much bigger deal to MSU fans than PSU fans. Basing this on the fact that beating MSU the last game of the season isn't really a big thing in my eyes.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Maverick

    College football is awful. Tonight I am going to a friends house to watch Marshall at Ohio State. This is EXACTLY how i wanted to open the season, watching a 52-3 Romp. There are WAY TOO MANY teams in division 1, trying to make all the kids (92% of whom), wont even make it to the NFL, feel good. Division names are just labels, so lets bump all sub-par teams down a division and make this thing fair.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brad

    i thought the purpose was also to extend the season? But 2012 shows last game 11/24. Didn't they want to play after Thanksgiving so the media hacks could see them play one week later for the last poll and bowl bids?

    September 2, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • bt587kent

      Brad, the Big ten season was ormally over the 3rd saturday in November; this year 11-20. they wil be extending regular season 1 week and adding another week for the championship. This puts them in line with the other conferences w/ championships; or at least with in a week of their championships.

      September 2, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mister Hisster

    Stupidest. Decision. Ever.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Percy

    Finally they are trying the extremely successful SEC approach.What took so damn long?

    September 2, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ian

    Doesn't matter what they do the division is still weak compared to the SEC and the Big 12 even with Nebraska.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Yeah, because Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Colorado are dominating schools on the gridiron...and so long as Texas is ruling it's state, A&M & Tech are 2nd tier teams as well. I never understood the argument why the Big 12 is supposed to be such a powerhouse. Yes, a few teams at the top are among the best in the country...but DEPTH is not a strength of the conference. I will give you the SEC though.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    Hmmm, the "Big Ten" will now have 12 schools but won't be called the "Big 12" because there already is a "Big 12". How about Bigger 12? Bigger than those 12?
    These are colleges you say?

    September 2, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Nichole - PSU

      posting something like that shows you're not a big ten fan – or ever watch big ten game – OR ever watch a college football game...

      the "big ten" has had 11 teams since PSU joined in 1990 (the 11 is hidden in the blank space of the logo)... so your little comment about these being colleges.. yes, they are – and VERY good schools at that

      September 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tony

    Why does Purdue have the 1st game as the bye week each of the first 2 years...shouldn't they move that around? Seems like a detriment to whatever team gets the bye week outside of the middle of the season.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • bt587kent

      Those Bye Weeks they are playing Notre Dame.

      September 2, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Most of the conf. scheduled bye weeks will mean the 4th non-conference game for each team – with a couple exceptions, of course. As for the Big 4/Little 8 debate, all teams "success" is cylical. Something like 9 teams have been to BCS bowls in the last 8 years, or some garbage like that. The teams getting the worst of this are the ones with the least amount of success, and even they have had some relative success over time. Just let it roll and see what happens. You might be surprised.

      September 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Yeah Right

    John In Nebraska>

    Nebraska is gonna help boost Iowa ticket sales at home, huh? Have you ever been to an Iowa game? Every home game is sold out. Always.

    You must be confusing IA with IL or IN - they could both use some ticket boosts.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      So true.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mimi68826

      Yeah Right – You bet! I know of a Nebraska fan who bought Washington season tickets this year, just so he could go to the UNL-Washington game. With Iowa so close to home, I wonder how many UNL fans who can't get tickets for games in Lincoln will start buying Iowa season tickets just so they can watch Nebraska play. Get used to your black & gold stadium turning red when the Huskers come to town. GBR!!!

      September 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
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