I'm suprised one topic hasn't received more play in all the divison alignment discussion. Perhaps the thing that originally concerned me most is something Brian brought up: that putting UM and OSU in separate divisons but keeping a protected cross division rivalry will make it more difficult for UM and OSU to make the championship game, because each team always plays a top notch team in their protected game (each other). For example, one year Michigan and Nebraska might play the same schedule but UM plays OSU as a cross divison game and Nebraska plays Illinois. Those two games both count equally in UM and Nebraska's fight to win the division, but the OSU game is much more difficult, and quite a handicap.
However, upon thinking about it more, it seems like the disadvantage won't be so bad: I assume that the other superpowers, Nebraska and Penn State, are protected to play each other. This ensures that the 4 powers each have, on average, the same number of guaranteed difficult games. Likewise, Iowa and Wisconsin should probably have a protected game. The only way for the schedule to really screw us is when a normally mid level team, like MSU, has a great season by avoiding good teams in the other division. This seems rare enough to not be a major concern, especially given that the 9 game conference schedule means that each team will only miss 2 cross division opponents in a given year.
Thoughts? Is the road actaully more difficult for UM and OSU? Should we even care if it is?