FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
Quite possibly M's second-best home opponent in 2014. No, not Wake Forest.
The Big Ten released the 2014 football conference schedule this afternoon, providing our first glance at how the conference slate looks when Rutgers and Maryland are added to the mix. The .pdf with every team's conference schedule can be found here, or you can just click the picture below to embiggen:
To make things a little simpler, here's a (chart?) chart of each team's crossover games:
|Indiana||at Iowa, Purdue|
|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||at Ohio State, Penn State|
|Iowa||Indiana, at Maryland|
|Minnesota||at Michigan, Ohio State|
|Nebraska||at Michigan State, Rutgers|
|Northwestern||at Penn State, Michigan|
|Purdue||Michigan State, at Indiana|
|Wisconsin||Maryland, at Rutgers|
Fans of the Little Brown Jug will be happy to see Minnesota as one of Michigan's crossovers; an ever-improving Northwestern squad should be a tough test. Ohio State, meanwhile, gets to feast on the conference's two worst programs—unless you want to make the case for Iowa, which... go right ahead, actually—and woe be upon the Gophers for drawing the Big Two.
Home games in ALL CAPS:
|Aug. 30||APPALACHIAN STATE|
|Sept. 6||at Notre Dame|
|Sept. 13||MIAMI (OH)|
|Oct. 4||at Rutgers|
|Oct. 11||PENN STATE|
|Oct. 25||at Michigan State|
|Nov. 8||at Northwestern|
|Nov. 29||at Ohio State|
Yeah, the home schedule suuuuuuucks. This is in part because...
THINGS OF NOTE
- The Michigan State series has flipped, so the Wolverines now travel to East Lansing in both 2013 and 2014. Michigan playing in East Lansing in back-to-back years is unprecedented, and the last time they faced both MSU and OSU on the road was in 1966.
- With the Notre Dame game in South Bend in 2014, that leaves Penn State—a team with 65 scholarship players—as the marquee home game. Utah isn't very good anymore, so the next-best game at the Big House is probably... Maryland? Ugh.
- In related news, it's very possible that Michigan will face their four toughest opponents on the road. That is less than ideal, though at least it sets up for 2015 to have a favorable schedule—especially sans Notre Dame—just as Hoke's juggernaut-laden recruiting classes really begin to take hold.
- It really can't be stressed enough how much Minnesota got screwed. Also getting unusually difficult crossover games: Illinois (at OSU, PSU) and Northwestern (at PSU, Michigan). The Illini will probably be bad no matter what, but that's an especially tough break for the Wildcats, which have a legitimate chance to contend in the West.
The biggest takeaways for me are the home schedule, which is the worst in the history of ever, and the unfortunate year-to-year imbalance created by playing MSU on the road for the second straight year. These are related, obviously—since the late '60s, Michigan fans could look forward to a home game against either MSU or OSU every year. Now there's a serious vested interest in Penn State's program somehow remaining strong through the sanctions, if only for the hopes of one interesting home game in even-numbered years.
All in all, things could be far worse for Michigan—the crossover games are reasonable, at least, and odd-numbered years are now set up for some great home slates and generous schedules overall. I can't help but look at that home schedule and feel deeply disappointed, however. Tougher non-conference scheduling can't kick in soon enough.