Nine Game Conference Schedule In 2017

Submitted by Brian on August 4th, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Press release:


Teams to feature four or five Big Ten home games on rotating basis

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten announced today that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season.

Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division.

The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.

Michigan gets the slightly shorter end of the stick but that's probably the way they wanted it since they get ND at home in odd-numbered years. An extra Big Ten home game in years when ND is away should help even out the home schedules.

Insert bitch here about how no amount of insane BTN/ESPN loot will ever allow Michigan to play a real opponent in a home and home.



August 4th, 2011 at 11:53 AM ^

It's okay, but I've always been hoping for some type of preseason like the following for every year:

Home and Home with: 

National Rival: Notre Dame and SEC/PAC 12

Home games against:

Regional Opponent: Like one of the directional schools (Eastern, Central, Western, etc...) and  a Service Academy

DB has put us in a situation where we kind of do this next year  (we play Alabama, Air Force, and Notre Dame....and likely at least one of the directional schools). I guess this is what I wanted to see every year from 2012 on out. It gives us good range of football from the national stage down to the local interests, while saluting those who serve our country.


August 4th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

I'd like to see everyone play a BCS opponent outside of our conference. Illinois could play Missouri. Nebraska could play Oklahoma. PSU could play Pitt, Maryland, WVU, etc. It would give everyone 10 legitimate opponents every year and probably give our conference the toughest collective SOS.


August 4th, 2011 at 12:06 PM ^

I agree completely. I think that there are a lot of incentives that would reward those conferences and teams who schedule more like college basketball does: play anybody, anywhere. Not only would it give everyone at least one legitimate preseason opponent, but the fans would get exciting games, the media would go crazy, and if it's home and home the schools would benefit from one more large game.

I feel the biggest roadblock to this is the incentive for a perfect season....I wish the BCS would reward a more aggresive preseason schedule for the power conferences.

Mr. Yost

August 4th, 2011 at 1:51 PM ^


"I'd like to see everyone play a BCS opponent outside of our conference. Illinois could play Missouri. Nebraska could play Oklahoma. PSU could play Pitt, Maryland, WVU, etc. It would give everyone 10 legitimate opponents every year and probably give our conference the toughest collective SOS."


We'd still count Notre Dame as our BCS non-conference opponent and schedule EMU, CMU or WMU and a 1AA team to round out the schedule.

Mr. Yost

August 4th, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

I do like that idea...

Michigan - Notre Dame
Ohio State - Cincinnati
Michigan State - ??? (Notre Dame? Syracuse Maybe?)
Nebraska - Oklahoma
Penn St. - Pitt
Illinois - Missouri
Wisconsin - ??? (Ole Miss Maybe? North Mississippi River vs. South Mississippi River?)
Iowa - Iowa St.
Minnesota - ??? (Boise St? Washington? Kansas?)
Northwestern - Stanford
Purdue - ??? (Notre Dame? W. Virginia Maybe?)
Indiana - Kentucky


August 4th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

I'm not saying they have to schedule the same team every year, just that having a BCS opponent on your schedule should be a requirement. My thought is that this would be used to encourage OOC rivalries but if there isn't one then the teams just need to find a competitive team like what OSU has done with Texas, USC, and Miami.


August 4th, 2011 at 6:27 PM ^

The biggest "losers" in this are the MAC and POSSIBLY Notre Dame.

MAC for the obvious reason - Less non-conference games will be played, making it more likely there is less $$$ coming in from the games.

Notre Dame - Michigan, Michigan St and Purdue play Notre Dame on a yearly basis.  The series with Northwestern has resumed (2014 and 2018).  Notre Dame also used to play Penn State and Ohio State regularly.  This may torpedo additional games and possibly hinder one of their current games.


FCS teams - More likely for teams to bring in a Delaware St type, as opposed to a high MAC program.

Big Ten (as weird as it sounds) - It goes back to the most recent conference schedule of "play everyone but 2 teams."  PAC 10 (now PAC 12) has gained more credibility in recent years with the addition of a 9th conference game.  Big 12 has gone a similar route.

With the general trend towards 9 conference games (Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12), will we hear calls for a 13th game to be added?


August 4th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

It creates some potential issues for some teams in 2017, a la Big 12 this year (but the teams that have issues will have a few years to figure it out):


Illinois non-conference: Not available.

Indiana non-conference: Bowling Green and Massachusetts (will be a MAC school.  Result: Probably going to add a low level BCS school or Sun Belt school.

Iowa non-conference: @ Iowa State and North Texas.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC or FCS school.

Michigan non-conference: Notre Dame.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC school.  Your guess as good as mine as to who the second opponent will be (MAC #2, CUSA low level, MWC).

Michigan State non-conference: Alabama, @ South Florida, Notre Dame, Western Michigan.  Result: My guess is South Florida gets moved back to 2019.

Minnesota non-conference: Oregon State and Middle Tennessee.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC or FCS school.

Nebraska non-conference: @ Tennessee.  Result: Probably going to add a FCS school and a WAC/Sun Belt/CUSA opponent.

Northwestern non-conference: @ Duke.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC and a CUSA/Vanderbilt/High academic school.

Ohio non-conference: Oklahoma.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC and FCS/CUSA/MAC #2 school.

Penn State non-conference: Pittsburgh.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC and FCS/CUSA/MAC #2 school.

Purdue non-conference: Notre Dame.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC and a FCS school.

Wisconsin non-conference: Washington and Virginia Tech.  Result: Probably going to add a MAC or FCS school.



August 4th, 2011 at 11:26 AM ^

this is happening AS LONG AS we don't get rid of Notre Dame.  Remember when DB said this?


As Brandon told the News: "I have to have seven home games a year. If you think about a nine-game Big Ten schedule, there will be one year I have four home games and one year I have five. In the year that I have four, I have to play every one of my non-conference games at home, so I can't be in a world where I have four Big Ten home games and I'm supposed to play Notre Dame (in South Bend). I can't live in that world. Those are the kinds of issues I have to deal with."


I'd rather play Notre Dame every year than swap it for a lesser challenge.

lexus larry

August 4th, 2011 at 11:36 AM ^

been a lesser challenge going on a couple decades now? (Notwithstanding the challenges ND has presented Michigan football, but how grating is it to look back on a season, and see M lose to an eventual 7-5 ND team, one that should have been spanked, rode hard and put away soaking wet?)


August 4th, 2011 at 11:42 AM ^

ever get back to competing for the NC every year, but you'd be a fool if you thought they wont continue to get better and become a top 25 team year in and year out.  There is so much money floating around that program, they will do whatever they have to in order to get back up on the totem pole.  They've just been struggling a bit because of the Ty Willingham thing and because of the failed Charlie Weis experiment.

I hate ND so much, but I would put money on them finishing a season in the top 10 within the next five years and continuing to succeed from there.

lexus larry

August 4th, 2011 at 12:00 PM ^

Yeah, the future looks better, but, honestly, it's not just the TW or CW years that ND has underachieved.  It's been at least 15 years, and, to my mind, closer to 20.

And by underachieving, I mean playing M tough, but then losing to MSU or some other middle-of-the-road team, ending up 8-4 or 7-5 (or worse), and having one of the wins come against Michigan.  I only want to lose to upper echelon teams, not a 7-5 squad.

Indiana Blue

August 4th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

Michigan means infinitly nore to nd than nd means to Michigan.  nd gave the B1G the finger about joining the conference and I wish every single B1G team would drop them for all football schedules.

The reason they didn't join wasn't for $$, it was because they knew they couldn't be relevent every freaking year.  tsio whomped them the 2 years they played and they just recently split with PSU.  They know that playing in the B1G leaves them out of any "mythical" sense of destiny the media builds every year.

"To Hell with Notre Dame" ... thanks Bo!

Go Blue!


August 4th, 2011 at 12:51 PM ^

ND is at Michigan in 2017, so it's a smooth transition.

The only way ND possibly drops out of the current series with Michigan is if they join a conference. [That won't happen unless the BCS folds and there's a major realignment in college football.] Even if they did, we could still schedule challenging home-and-homes in that slot.

I'll guess what the move to a 9+ND annual schedule means is no more FCS opponents. Michigan will play mostly MAC schools each year, with a few other FBS-but-not-BCS schools sprinkled in.


The FannMan

August 4th, 2011 at 12:15 PM ^

I still don't get why that problem can't be fixed.  Say, we add a quality team on a home and home to alternate with ND then have one  MAC school.  So one year we have MAC, Quality Non-Conference and 5 = 7.  The next we have MAC, ND and 4 =6.

My two tickets in the end zone (w/ seat cushions, yo!) totaled about 1,000.  That's $500.00 per ticket package, with a average of $62.50 for eight games.  If he needs seven games, then he needs $437.50 (7 x 62.50) a year per ticket pacakge (plus the extra fees for the good seats, boxes etc.)  So just charge us that for a season package, regardless of the number of games.  (Add some more to make up for the lost concessions.)  Some years the per game price is more, some it is less, depending on the number of Big Ten home games.  If he has to play around with the face value for single ticekets, so be it.  The only problem I see is if there is a requirenment that the "face" value be the same on season tickets and single game sales.  This could make single games about $10.00 more expensive during six game years.  I supposed that could adversly impact the single games sales.  However, I think that could be fixed by selling more season tickets.  There is a waiting list, right?

I am missing something here?

One very interesting thing about that quote is that he says he needs seven games - not eight.  So we could have, in fact, had a home and home with a good team rather than playing Eastern at home and making us all pay extra for the tickets.  I will assume that this was extra revenue needed for the improvements, which I am OK with.

I really just can't believe that he can't find anyone from a major conference willing to do a home and home because they don't want to play us.  (Alabama is willing to play - as long as both schools get paid.)


August 4th, 2011 at 2:23 PM ^

Nebraska, Michigan State and Iowa all play five home conference games in 2017 from the Legends Division along with Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division.

I'm going to make a couple of scheduling assumptions here.  The first is that the UM-MSU and UM-OSU series rotations stay the same.  In odd years, Michigan plays at Michigan State and hosts Ohio State in Ann Arbor.  In even years, Michigan plays at OSU and hosts MSU at Michigan Stadium.

The second assumption deals with Iowa and its two trophy games with Nebraska and Minnesota.  If the current scheduling rotation holds thru 2017, IA will be playing at NE and MN that season.  Since IA plays five home conference games, that means Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern will all be playing in Iowa City that season.

What that means for Michigan is that in 2017, two of its three division away games are Michigan State and Iowa--both teams playing five home conference games.  That leaves Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska as possibility for the third division away game.

David Brandon has said he doesn't want to play Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all at home or all away.  Since the 2017 ND game is scheduled for Ann Arbor (as is the OSU game), it would mean that if the Big Ten agreed to Brandon's stated requiement, then Nebraska would be the third road division game for Michigan that season (along with MSU and IA). 

I'm going to make one more assumption here.  Brandon has been quoted as saying during the decision making process behind setting up the two divisions last year is that he wanted to keep Penn State as a rival.  Seeing how the conference scheduled UM and PSU since the Nittany Lions joined the conference in 1993, I assume the Big Ten agreed with that.  My guess is that Penn State and Wisconsin will rotate two years on/two years off on Michigan's schedule with one of Indiana, Illlinois and Purdue as the third opponent from the Leaders Division.  PSU won't be on UM's schedule every year because Delany has said there will be no second protected rivalries.  PSU is on Michigan's schedule in 2013/14, which means Wisconsin is probably on in 2015/6.  Indiana is on 2013/14 schedule, which means Illinois or Purdue are on 2015/16 schedule.


So here's a best guess at what Michigan's 2017 season schedule will look like based on the assumptions above:





Five Away Conference Games:  At Nebraska, At Iowa, At Michigan State, At Penn State, At One of Illinois/Indiana/Purdue


In 2018 (and 2019), the Notre Dame series takes a hiatus, so another major non-conference home-and-home series gets scheduled in its place.  The schedule for 2018 looks like this:


Away Games - At Major Non-Confernce Opponent, At Minnesota, At Northwestern, At Ohio State, At One of Illinois/Indiana/Purdue

In 2019 and 2020, Wisconsin replaces Penn State, but the rotation stays the same.  ND series can restart in 2020 if both parties agree.


What's the trade off for the fans with the nine-game conference schedule?  It certainly means one less home game per season because there won't be alternating years of eight and seven home games per year.  Obviously, also, if there are any neutral site games, that might mean six home games in selected years.

I put two "MAC LEVEL" opponents on the schedules above, but it might well be one MAC team plus a second non-MAC opponent.  In 2011 thru 2013, that would means teams like Connecticut, San Diego State and Air Force.  We're not a major non-conference opponent like Alabama, but certainly not a team like Eastern Michigan either--something that may be a bit more middle of the road, but certainly a program willing to pay for play.  It could be someone from the Mountain West (where SDSU and AFA come from) or perhaps a Conference USA program.  We'll know as the schedules get released, but if Brandon is willing to adding Air Force to next year's schedule, then I could see him keeping that practice in place going forward. 

This set up also splits up the Notre Dame/Major Non-Conference Opponent, Ohio State, Nebraska and Penn State/Wisconsin into two home games and two away each season.  That means the schedules aren't lopsided one way or the other each year.

Let's do a hypothetical and say Georgia replaces Notre Dame in 2018 as a home-and-home opponent and the other two non-conference home games are against Central Michigan and Houston from Conference USA (because UM likes to recruit in Texas).  Here's what a possible UM schedule would look like.


At Georgia (SEC)


INDIANA (Leaders)

At Northwestern (Legends)


At Purdue (Leaders)

NEBRASKA (Legends)

At Minnesota (Legends)

PENN STATE (Leaders)

AT Ohio State (Leaders)

Those seven home games would be what your annual $500 per ticket would be paying for--one MAC team, one C-USA and five Big Ten teams including Penn State and Nebraska.

In 2019, the seen home games would be one MAC, perhaps one from the Mountain West, Georgia, and four Big Ten teams including Ohio State. 


The FannMan

August 5th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

I think you misunderstood me - I am not saying that there is no value in the tickets, or that the Big Ten Schedule isn't good.  I have no problem conceding that my season tickets are a great value.

I am responding to Brandon's claim that he has to schedule cupcakes b/c of the money i.e. - he needs two at home each year in addition to the home and away v. Notre Dame.  My suggestion is that he schedules another BCS level school on a home and home.  If that meant less games, just increase the price of the tickets to compensate.  My point is that I am willing to pay more for fewer home games if good teams are scheduled. 

For example, I would have gladly paid more than 500 each for a package that had a non-conference of Westeran, @ Alabama, ND and SDSU in 2011 and MAC School, Alabama, @ ND and Air Force in 2012.  It is one less game, but the qualify is better. 

And I am not at all sure that he schedules a qualify team at home in place of ND.  




August 4th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

Setting in the armory with Break Free fumes all around has given me physic abilities.


Texas goes independent, A&M and Oklahoma goes SEC. B1G/PAC are forced to keep up for the cash..sadly all I can say is the B1G will try to get into the eastern TV market.


August 4th, 2011 at 11:28 AM ^

While I do want to see more meaningful non-conference opponents, if that can't happen I like the idea of playing more conference games.  What's the point in having all these teams in a conference if they don't play each other?  My question is how many conference games we'll be playing if the B1G/B12 is the B16 by then?  And what will happen to the MAC when the money from B1G games starts to dry up?


August 4th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

If we go 10 B1G games it means we play 10 out of 11 other teams in the conference.  That basically makes it pointless to have a conference championship game, and ups the odds of a rematch.  If you're doing 10 out of 11 you might as well decide the conference champ from round robin league play.  The championship game is a major revenue source so the conference wants to keep it exciting.  

Also reduces the odds of someone getting through with 1 loss and making it to the title game.

(I'm speaking from the perspective of the guys who vote on this, not what I want as a fan mind you.)


August 4th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

Hell yeah! Let's go to 11 B1G games, and say screw you NCAA, we're playing 2 non-con games on top of that. You can push the season back another week and have not one but six conference games on championship weekend. One conference championship game cannot (I think) make as much money as six regular conference games. A full round robin will be perfectly fair, decide a worthy Rose Bowl participant, and force the SEC and Pac-12 to do the same thing. More football for everyone!

Pipe dream, though, as long as the NCAA has the 12 game a season rule and teams need 6 wins to get bowl-eligible.

turd ferguson

August 4th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

Just like with the protected rivalry thing, they screwed this up in terms of fairness. Why not give all of the teams in one division an extra home game one year and all of the teams in the other division an extra home game the next year? With this new alignment, you're really competing against teams in your division. Why create unnecessary imbalance?


August 4th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

Having all teams in one division makes sense in theory, but it couldn't work. With 9 games, you play 5 in division and 4 out. It's already imbalanced because you will play 2 home division games some years and 3 in other years. It wouldn't make sense to have all teams in one divison play 5 home games, because that means some of them would have to play 3 non-division games on the road.

I think it is actually more fair this way. Notice how Michigan and Nebraska alternate 5 home years, so basically they are each other's 5th game. M and OSU also have 5 home games in alternate years, so for season ticket purposes, even though there will only be 4 home Big Ten games in odd, ND, Nebraska and OSU will all be at home.

turd ferguson

August 4th, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^

Interesting point, but I disagree with your conclusion.  Division winners are determined by overall conference record, not division record, so I don't think the distribution of inter-division/intra-division home games matters as much as you're saying (except for the tiebreaker).  Here's one way to think about it:  If two teams from the same division played identical opponents and had an equal number of home games, would you really care whether one of them had more home games against divisional opponents while the other had more against non-divisional opponents?

The bigger issue there is the protected rivalry, which gives some teams much more difficult schedules, on average, than other teams.


Kilgore Trout

August 4th, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

I am a fan of the idea in general, but I don't get why they split up the home and away the way they did.  To me, the obvious way to do it is to have all of the Leaders teams have 5 home games one year then all of the Legends the next. That way everyone in each division has the same breakdown and it's more fair.


August 4th, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

It's much easier to schedule the rotation if everyone has 2H-2A in the other division that if some have 2H-2A and others have 3H-1A or 1H-3A. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the formula gets more complicated.

I've also had this thought in the past and I felt it would work well if the CCG was played at teams' stadiums because then the conference with 4 home games gets the home field advantage in the CCG. Then, I realized the issue with scheduling.


August 4th, 2011 at 11:51 AM ^

I'm just hopeful that this 9-game schedule affords the Athletic Department the opportunity to change up the home/away schedules for OSU, Nebraska, ND.  Five conference home games in an even year isn't much better than four if our biggest games/rival games are road games.  Especially in a cycle where Wisconsin, Penn State or Iowa falls off the schedule. 

I love Michigan Football, but as a season ticket holder it's easier to stomach the PSD when the home schedule has ND, OSU and Nebraska. 


August 4th, 2011 at 11:51 AM ^

Michigan will have 5 home games in 2018 while division rivals Iowa, Nebraska, and Michigan State will have 4.  Even numbered years could be good to Michigan in the future (and odd numbered years not so much).

Yostbound and Down

August 4th, 2011 at 11:52 AM ^

Michigan didn't play ND in 2000 and 2001. In 2000 our non-conference games were Bowling Green and Rice at home, UCLA on the road.

2001, similarly, the Big House hosted Miami (OH) and WMU, and played Washington on the road.

Personally I guess I wouldn't mind a two-year break from ND too much if Michigan has the opportunity to play a home and home series against a USC or Florida State or LSU. That's the problem I have with the nine-game conference takes away the opportunity to run a home and home, play ND and still have a couple MAC schools to warm up our team with. I'd much rather have an eight game conference schedule and the possibility of keeping ND and playing another BCS team, but obviously Delaney wants to maximize the profitability of the B1G and that can't be the case.


August 4th, 2011 at 11:53 AM ^

they used to bring in vandy or south carolina or wake forest or or maryland or some other bcs conference weakling and that was fun. but these days schedules are made so far ahead of time, that it would not be surprising to schedule a bcs weakling now and then in four years they turn things around and are a formidalbe-ish opponent.

basically, this means in even numbered years, season ticket holders can feel free to schedule vacations during september, since that will just be a blood bath of non conference MAC home games.

i wouldn't mind seeing some conference games in week 2 or 3 and then spread the MACrifices into the season for a de facto bye week.