Question about B1G Cross-Division Games

Submitted by RemembertheGatorBowl on August 20th, 2017 at 2:45 PM

Looking at the 2018 and 2019 schedules I noticed Michigan will have played the best team in the West Division four years in a row from 2016-19 and no other team more than twice. The table below shows our cross division games from 2016 (when the 9 game B1G schedule started) until 2019. I was wondering if anyone had insight into how these cross-division games were determined. From the announcement of the 9 game schedule released back in 2013 the only guidelines I see are:

-          Indiana and Purdue play every year

-          East Division teams play 5 games at home in even-numbered years and West Division teams play 5 games at home in odd-numbered years. Hence Michigan has 5 B1G away games this year

-          Every team will play every other B1G team at least once every four year period

By the numbers it seems you should be able to play every other team in a three year period (7x7 = 49 cross division matchups and roughly 7 x 3 = 21 cross division games each year). So does anyone have any insight into why we would play Wisconsin four years in a row? And what do you all think about whether it’s an advantage or disadvantage to have them on our schedule. Ohio State for instance only plays them once in that span (last year) but plays Nebraska all four years.

  2016 2017 2018 2019
Wisconsin Home Away Home Away
Illinois Home     Away
Iowa Away     Home
Purdue   Away    
Minnesota   Home    
Northwestern     Away  
Nebraska     Home  




August 20th, 2017 at 8:57 PM ^

From 2016-2019 there actually is a formula during that four year span:

  • Each East team plays one of seven West teams 4 times, evenly split between home and away 2/2
  • Play two of the West teams 2 times over the four year span, one home/one away each 
  • Play the other 4 West teams once in a four year span, two of which are at home and two of which are away 

Michigan's formula draw is:

  • Wisconsin 4 times
  • Iowa and Illinois twice
  • Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota and Purdue once

Ohio State's formula draw is:

  • Nebraska 4 times
  • Wisconsin and Northwestern twice
  • Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota once

Penn State's formula draw is:

  • Iowa 4 times
  • Minnesota and Purdue twice
  • Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, and Nebraska once

Penn State definitely got the easiest draw for the first go around of the Big 3. 

Michigan State's draw is:

  • Northwestern 4 times
  • Wisconsin and Illinois twice
  • Iowa, Purdue, Nebraska and Minnesota once


And from the West's perspective, Wisconsin's draw is:

  • Michigan 4 times
  • Ohio State and Michigan State twice
  • Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana once

They definitely gave the Badgers the hardest cross-divisional slate in the West. Anything where you only get all three of MD, Rutgers and IU once, plus neither UM or OSU once, is rough from a West perspective. 


I hope the Big Ten continues with these 4 year schedule blocks as it makes sense. I'm happy we're playing Wisconsin 4 years in a row for the first rotation, given we didn't play them in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015. I just hope OSU gets them next. 

Thus, from 2020-2023 we are extremely likely to only play Wisconsin once, and move one of the four we only played once the span up to the every year. 


August 21st, 2017 at 9:49 AM ^…


Since Barry Alvarez took over in 1990 Wisconsin is tied for 14th in most wins.  Notobly they are tied with Alabama.  They have more wins than ND, Southern Cal, BYU, Clemson, Auburn, and LSU.  They only trail Michigan by 5 wins.


I wouldn't say that Wisconsin is a traditional blue blood, but they have proven to be consistently good for nearly 3 decades.  As we learned with RRod and Hoke, you make the wrong coaching hire and things can go poorly fast.  But with Alvarez running the show they haven't made any bad hires and Paul Chryst looks like a very good hire.  Couple that with the fact that college football wise Wisconsin is as homogenous as Ohio with better proximity to Chicagoland I think they will be good for the foreseeable future.



August 20th, 2017 at 10:24 PM ^

I'm nearly certain the schedule formula is an 18-year rotation, in 3 blocks of 6:

2016-2021: U-M plays Wisky annually.  Same for OSU/Nebraska and PSU/Iowa

2022-2027: U-M will play one of Nebraska/Iowa annually.  OSU and PSU also rotate to one of the Wisky/Nebraska/Iowa triplet.

2028-2033: U-M plays Nebraska or Iowa annually (whichever one isn't in the 2022-2027 rotation).  Ditto for OSU and PSU.

As for the 2 other West games, U-M will play:

1 of Purdue, Nebraska, Iowa (e.g., the 2 of Nebr/Iowa/Wisc they don't play) each year

1 of Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern each year.


August 21st, 2017 at 12:45 AM ^

Where did you get that information? Seems a bit presumptuous. I don't like the idea of 6 years in a row. 


Also, Penn State really, really has it easy for this first four year chunk. Not only do they play both Wisconsin and Nebraska once, both are in State College.

On top of that, Penn State hasn't been to Madison since 2013 and won't have to go until at least 2020, probably longer. And Lincoln since 2012. 


That's a pretty long hiatus from the West's two toughest stadiums, far more than any other East team. Kinnick is right up there, as we well know as Wolverine fans, but UM and OSU both have to play there in this block as well (2016 and 2017). 


August 21st, 2017 at 7:17 AM ^

the B1G will have parity-based scheduling in the future, with the league's better teams playing each other cross-division 10 times in 18 years, while playing the other cross-division teams 6 times in 18 years.

Fair enough if you think my post was "presumptuous" - but if I were a Michigan fan, I'd be expecting to see Wisconsin is on the 2020 & 2021 schedules.


August 20th, 2017 at 3:12 PM ^

The addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the conference has made cross division games even more confusing. Although it's interesting that no matter what changes happen with membership and wacky schedules, Wisconsin will continue their tradition (as they have for about 16 of the last 20 years now) by missing two major conference opponents; Penn State and Ohio State. I've given up on figuring out why they always seem to have the easiest road to conference title contention.

I also think it kind of sucks that we don't have the opportunity for revenge on Iowa this year. After a two year break, we played them last year but then they're immediately off the schedule again this year. And yes I know getting Purdue and Minnesota back are more likely easier wins but my pettiness wants blood because I've gotten sick of us losing to some really shitty Iowa football (and basketball) teams the last few years.


August 20th, 2017 at 3:34 PM ^

Idk man, they lost to us in '08 in a game where Steven Threet was the leading rusher between both teams. 

Can't really blame them for taking out that frustration the next two years.

Leaders And Best

August 20th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

That second half comeback against Wisconsin in 2008 was the one moment of sunshine in that miserable season.'

Every team in the Big Ten took out their historical frustrations with Michigan in 2008 and 2009. Purdue. Illinois. MSU. Even PSU had not beaten Michigan in 12 years before 2008. Wisconsin and Minnesota were the only teams unfortunate enough to fall to that 2008 team.

Leaders And Best

August 20th, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

The Big Ten announced it was moving toward parity-based scheduling about 5 years ago when the conference was expanding. They put it off until the 9-game conference schedule went into effect last year. The programs with more historical and recent success will play each other more frequently. Michigan drew Wisconsin. Ohio State drew Nebraska. Penn State drew Iowa. Michigan State drew Northwestern. When the new round of schedules come out, my guess is those matchups will rotate (except Purdue and Indiana which is fixed I believe).

More about parity-based scheduling and how the Big Ten schedule came together from 2013:

From the horse's mouth, Jim Delany, in 2013:

On crossover schedules and rotations ...

Delany: The strong majority view was that we not have assigned crossovers, so we could play each other as much as we could over a long period of time. Obviously, Indiana and Purdue have the Bucket game, it's historic and we wanted to preserve that. It made Purdue comfortable going West, Indiana comfortable going East and it preserved that tradition. An awful lot of our rivalries could be taken care of through divisional play. If you look at the schedules, what you'll see is over time, the crossovers rotate. In the first 18 years, you're going to see a lot of competition between teams at the top of either division. We call that a bit of parity-based scheduling. You'll see Wisconsin and Nebraska and Iowa playing a lot of competition against Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. But it will eventually rotate. BTN did some surveys. We didn't rely on them but we followed the results. We had 62,000 people who participated. By and large, this aligns with what we think is fan-friendly in terms of regionalization, protection of rivals and so on. About 80 percent of fans were supportive of nine or 10 games.


August 20th, 2017 at 4:03 PM ^

This year when they're undefeated and massively over ranked we won't mind. It will be nice to get a top five road win before TOSU comes in to be ruined. It will suck to play Wisconsin again the week after though.


August 20th, 2017 at 4:40 PM ^

More games per season.  Start earlier in year, finish later.  More conference games, eliminate meeaningless non-conference games (i.e. "cupcakes").

Leaders And Best

August 20th, 2017 at 5:46 PM ^

The conspiracy theory about Michigan's schedule should be focused on Mark Rudner if you are the tinfoil hat wearing type. Rudner is the B1G senior associate commissioner and in charge or making the schedules. He is also an OSU alum.

I don't think there is any conspiracy though. I think Rudner's son actually works for Michigan's AD now.


August 20th, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

4 games against Wisconsin in 4 years, but we only play 4 teams once in 4 years. wTF is that? Don't get me wrong, I love playing Wisconsin but it doesn't make me happy that we only get 1 team once.