Currently the B1G and SEC are in a bit of a scheduling crisis as they transition from 10 team conferences to 16 team superconferences. One problem with this is many annual, traditional conference opponents play in a seperate division now, and many rivals go several years without facing each other, even though they belong to the same conference. Another problem is the scheduling of "gimmie games" that occasionally provide miraculous upsets, but are usually guaranteed to be uninspiring blowouts in the hosts favor. As Conferences expand from 8, to 10, to 12, 14, and even 16 teams, and the implimentation of a postseason playoff system is fast approaching, we could end up having no choice but to address these two problems.
Hypothetically: If the B1G expanded to 16 teams, and Michigan continued to play 4 out-of-conference games each year, plus it's 1 protected game against the Buckeyes, then we would never play another cross divisional opponent outside of a Conference Championship game again. We'd play 7 games in our Division, The Game, and 4 games against Western, Eastern, UConn, and Utah, and that makes 12.
It's possible to add another regular season game, maybe 2, to rotate in 7 of the B1G teams we'd otherwise never face on a semiannual basis, but it's highly impractical. Schools like Michigan, with postseason play in mind, look to play a Conference Championship game, and 2, or maybe 3 postseason games every year, if/when they expand it. This already already puts us at a 14-15 game season, adding 1 or 2 more and potentailly playing 17 games for the sake of keeping 4 realtively meaningless ones is just silly, and many B1G matchups would still be rare.
Eliminating out-of-conference play in favor of cross-Divisional play would be an easy solution. Even if we played 1 marquee O.O.C. matchup each year, plus our 1 protected game, we'd be able to rotate 3 of our 7 remaining B1G opponents each season. That'd mean even if we don't play in the B1G Championship Game we'd be guaranteed to face all our Conference members every 3 years, with the possibility of that happening every 2 years, sometimes replaying Cross Divisional opponents in the B1G Championship.
Another reason for eliminating creampuff scheduling in favor of cross-divisional scheduling is that the new playoff system takes strength of schedule into account when picking at-large teams to participate. Playing the likes of Wisconsin, and Penn State is much more prestigious, and would look much better on a postseason resume, than playing UNLV, and BYU instead, not to mention the revenue playing a B1G team generates compared to paying MAC schools a million dollars to come lose to us.
Say in a few seasons LSU has 2 quality losses, but the SEC West in general is having a down year, if they played 4 FCS schools, and only played Missouri and Kentucky, or Vanderbilt, and Tennessee from the SEC East, then their S.O.S. might prevent them from getting one of the few at-large births into the postseason in favor of a, say, 1 loss Georgia, who they could handily beat, but didn't play. Same goes for ND. If they lose to Stanford and USC in a year where they only play the 5 weak ACC teams, play Purdue and a few Big East teams over Michigan and Staee, and schedule Service Academies over the likes of Oklahoma (plus don't participate in any Conference Championship) then any 1 loss team, or 2 loss team with quality wins, will get taken over them for an at-large birth, and they'll be out of the postseason.
It would be in Michigans best interest to play as many of our cross-divisional opponents as possible, not only to enhace our S.O.S. by not playing non AQ teams, but to maintain our ties with all the B1G schools, enhance our S.O.S. over other schools with similar records, and to prevent an at-large spot from going to a cross divisional opponent we didn't play that year. We're already choosing to play Central, Akron, and ND over Penn State, Purdue, and Wisonsin next year, we should at the very least trade 1 of our OOC games for more B1G play, now. Very soon we could be choosing between them and any Leaders Division opponents at all.