I was inspired to create this by the staff over at http://www.fbschedules.com. They've done this over the past couple of seasons for the ACC and SEC, but I don't think for the other Power 5 conferences with divisions (if they have I can't find them). They put out one for the 2016 ACC Football season a couple of days ago, so I thought I'd follow their template and do this for each B1G team for the 2016 season, starting with what I think is the easiest cross-division slate, building up to the most difficult in my mind, regardless of division.
Starting in 2016, the 14-team Big Ten is adopting a 6-3 scheduling format, with each team playing the 6 teams in their division and 3 teams from the opposite division.
Note, this is not a ranking of each team's conference schedule as a whole; rather, only the three teams they are playing from said team's opposite division.
Cross-division teams are listed based on chronological appearance on each team's schedule.
Again, I have no concrete database for the rankings, I just went by arbitrary feels. It's up for debate.
14. Maryland (Purdue, Minnesota, at Nebraska)
New coach DJ Durkin gets a huge scheduling break in his first season in charge in College Park (besides that whole being in the B1G East thing). Maryland gets Purdue at home as part of two home games against teams from the B1G West. At Nebraska is a tough road to hoe, but Maryland will waltz into Lincoln into November potentially able to lock up bowl eligibility solely on the strength of a cushy soft non-conference schedule and an extremely favorable draw of B1G West teams.
13. Penn State (Minnesota, at Purdue, Iowa)
Penn State has to face Iowa, but they get them at home, and then have the luxury of drawing Purdue (home or road, what difference does it make) and Minnesota at home. Penn State is sort of in limbo with James Franklin right now, but if he can upset Iowa at home and then take care of the other two (more than doable), the tune may start to change in Happy Valley.
12. Minnesota (at Penn State, at Maryland, Rutgers)
You could split hairs between Minnesota and Penn State, but I figured at Penn State is more unfriendly than Iowa at home. If you're a team in the B1G West and you know you're getting three teams from the B1G East, I don't think you could ask for a more favorable draw than the Gophers got, at least right in this point in time. I think the Gophers would much prefer trying to handle Penn State than Indiana's up-tempo attack. With a manageable B1G West and a fairly soft non-conference schedule, Minnesota could put up a bit of an inflated record by simply proving competent against below-average to average teams.
11. Indiana (Nebraska, at Northwestern, Purdue)
Any cross-divisional slate that features Purdue at home has to be included in the bottom four, and while Nebraska, even at home, and Northwestern on the road won't be pushovers, Indiana can put up points on these squads. Presumably Indiana takes care of Purdue at home and looks to split the remaining two games to shoot for 2-1 from the B1G West.
10. Rutgers (Iowa, Illinois, at Minnesota)
The Scarlet Knights are breaking in a new coach and are looking to rebuild (again). While they, like Maryland, currently form the soft underbelly of the B1G East, Rutgers doesn't get it all bad against the B1G West this season. Iowa at home debatably makes the cross-division slate more difficult than 13th in the conference, but Iowa can always Iowa, and that leaves Illinois at home and Minnesota on the road for the Knights. Surprise the Hawkeyes at home, and Rutgers could go to Minnesota looking to make it 3-0 against the B1G West.
9. Purdue (at Maryland, Penn State, at Indiana)
Purdue hit the skids pretty much since Joe Tiller left and hasn't really slowed their progress toward the wall since. Danny Hope brought a couple of big wins over Ohio State and got them to a couple of bowls, but Purdue thought there was more to be achieved. Oops. In comes Hazell and Purdue has plummeted like an anvil in the conference. However, despite being required to play three B1G East teams starting this season, Purdue doesn't get it all that bad. Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State are all avoided. I don't think the Boilers will be able to slow down Indiana, but against a new coaching situation in Maryland and an uncertain one at Penn State, with a little luck, Purdue may be able to squeeze out a win or maybe even two from the B1G East.
8. Nebraska (at Indiana, at Ohio State, Maryland)
The obvious toughie here is at the Horseshoe, debatably the toughest place to play in the conference alongside the Big House. At Indiana won't be easy, as Nebraska struggled to stop even Purdue (!) last season, but do get a manageable home game in Maryland. This leaves the 'Huskers in the middle of the road concerning cross-divisional difficulty.
7. Michigan State (Wisconsin, Northwestern, at Illinois)
You could really go in any direction with the teams ranked 4-7, as we'll see. State draws maybe the co-leader in the B1G West in Wisconsin, but it's at home, and also gets Northwestern at home, usually a respectable opponent, but beatable, and then a road trip to what will probably be a disastrous Illinois team. To me the real wild card is Northwestern because of their razor thin margin for success. If the 'Cats are hit with any bad luck, this schedule weakens, but assuming they stay healthy, it's a good home test for Sparty.
6. Iowa (at Rutgers, at Penn State, Michigan)
Again, take your best shot at separating these previous two along with the next two. I know, I know, Rutgers, but Penn State on the road, while a bit down, won't be an easy out, and Michigan, while at home, could end up being a loss. There's potential here for Iowa to go 1-2, which is what you really have to look at.
5. Michigan (Wisconsin, Illinois, at Iowa)
If you replaced Illinois with most anyone besides Purdue, this ranking would rise at least a couple more ticks. But with Illinois probably likely to be pretty bad, that keeps this cross-division schedule in the second tier. Wisconsin comes to Ann Arbor, but at Iowa will be a dogfight, which helps to separate Michigan and Michigan State's slates.
4. Ohio State (at Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska)
You could make a case this should be 7th, but who wants to go play at Madison, especially at night (the game has been confirmed as a night game). That's really what keeps this slate in the top 4-7, however you want to rank it. Northwestern, assuming they're healthy and can finish most of their close games, and Nebraska aren't cakewalks, but they come to the Shoe.
3. Illinois (at Rutgers, at Michigan, Michigan State)
The Rutgers trip and at least getting Michigan State at home pretty easily slots this cross-division slate into the 3rd spot. But the Illini are likely looking at 1-2 from these three games.
2. Northwestern (at Michigan State, Indiana, at Ohio State)
Poor Northwestern. They land probably the second toughest cross-division slate, but hey, someone from the B1G West has to. Trips to East Lansing and Columbus likely will not go well, and in between those they get to deal with Indiana's track team. Good luck, 'Cats.
1. Wisconsin (at Michigan State, at Michigan, Ohio State)
If Wisconsin somehow makes it to Indianapolis, they will have earned it more than any other team in the conference. Undoubtedly the Badgers draw the top three in the conference, period, and get the two Michigan teams on the road. Much good fortune will be needed from the guys in Madison to avoid going 0-3 from this set of cross-division games.