Why do we play Wisconsin for at least 6 years straight?

Submitted by Communist Football on December 5th, 2017 at 11:12 AM

Something odd about the football schedule. Wisconsin is in the other division; our Big 10 West opponents each year, in theory, should rotate through. But we play Wisconsin for at least six years straight. As far as I know, the only "protected rivalry" is Indiana vs. Purdue.

Here are the dates we play Wisconsin, with our other Big 10 West opponents in parentheses. You'll notice that over this six-year period, we play Illinois twice; Iowa twice; Purdue twice; Minnesota twice; Nebraska twice; Northwestern twice; and Wisconsin 6 times:

Oct 1, 2016: @Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7 (Illinois, @Iowa)

Nov 18, 2017: @Wisconsin 24, Michigan 10 (@Purdue, Minnesota)

Oct 13, 2018: Wisconsin @Michigan (Nebraska, @Northwestern)

Sep 21, 2019: Michigan @Wisconsin (Iowa, @Illinois)

Sep 26, 2020: Wisconsin @Michigan (@Minnesota, Purdue)

Oct 2, 2021: Michigan @Wisconsin (@Nebraska, Northwestern)

Given that there are 18 games and 7 Big 10 West opponents, I'd expect there to be more of a 2-2-2-3-3-3-3 split.

Does anyone have the answer?

UPDATE: Here is Wisconsin's non-Michigan Big 10 East schedule over the same period. MSU twice, OSU twice, Maryland twice, Indiana twice, Rutgers twice, PSU twice, Michigan 6 times:

2016: @MSU, OSU (played PSU in championship)

2017: Maryland, @Indiana (played OSU in championship)

2018: Rutgers, @PSU

2019: MSU, @OSU

2020: Indiana, @Maryland (also plays Notre Dame)

2021: PSU, @Rutgers




December 5th, 2017 at 1:10 PM ^

Yeah, it seems really unfair CF. It's almost like Wisconsin is the owner of the means of production and UM is, like, just poor laborers or something, just barely getting by on the meager wages afforded to us to transfer our labor (and thus, ourselves) to someone else, lest our families wither and die in the tenaments in the urban centers that have cropped up all over the place, where the bourgeoisie locates its factories and herds us in like cattle. Yet now that we have become conscious of this, the resentment and anger grows... 

Or, something like that... 

Occam's Razor

December 5th, 2017 at 11:27 AM ^

Also pretty sure Michigan is the first East team to rotate against Wisconsin because we went 5 years without playing them between 2010-2015. 

It's just that we sucked in majority of those years, so it didn't matter for B1G championship purposes. 


December 5th, 2017 at 11:16 AM ^

Over the course of the 18 years from 2016-2033, Michigan (ditto for OSU and PSU) will play Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin 10 times, and the other B1G West teams 6 times.

The scheduling algorithm gets to "10 games in 18 years" by having U-M play those 3 teams in the following way: 6 times in one 6 year block, and 2 times in each of the two other 6 year blocks.

Of course, when Jim Delany invites Connecticut, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Alaska-Fairbanks to the B1G in 2022, we'll have to come up with some different scheduling algorithm.

Blue in Paradise

December 5th, 2017 at 11:16 AM ^

And the B1G has decided to do rotating inter-division "rivalries" for 6 years at a time.  Minnesota would have made the most sense for us given the Little Brown Jug rivalry and the fact that they were pretty good recently (until this year). 

I believe OSU got Nebraska.  Maybe Frost will turn them into monsters again and make Smith regret that.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:20 AM ^

The Big Ten set up a weird rotation when they went to the 9-game conference schedule.  They wanted the 9th game to feature teams who are at about the same level of their respective conferences.

So Michigan/Ohio State/Penn State play Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin in 6 consecutive seasons over an 18-year period.  Michigan/Wisconsin was first up from 2016-2021.  Michigan will play either Nebraska or Iowa every year from 2022-2027, and the other one every year from 2028-2033, if you believe the same format for the conference schedule will actually last for 18 years.

Ohio State plays Nebraska every year 2016-2021, and Penn State plays Iowa.

The dregs of the Big Ten have a similar rotation:  Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota rotate with Maryland, Michigan State and Rutgers over the same 18-year period.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:31 AM ^

There are a couple of benefits:  (1) better schedules for TV and for home ticket sales, and (2) it ensures that the other "good" schools in your division are playing a difficult game the same season.

To elaborate on #2--if Wisconsin plays Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all in the same season, they don't want Iowa playing Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers.  This ensures that each team plays at least 1 "good" team and 1 "bad" team as a crossover every year, plus a third team who might be "good" or "bad."  Instead of having 3 random games, you just have 1 random game.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:44 AM ^

Had Wisconsin gone undefeated without playing a Michigan team, there is a non-zero chance they wouldn't have been in the playoffs.  Playing good teams is as much a payoff as it is a drawback.  A 2-loss OSU was actually considered for the playoff when a 1-loss Alabama was out there as well.  They didn't get in, but it wouldn't have been surprising.  That was because they played Wisconsin, PSU, Michigan, MSU, and Oklahoma.


December 5th, 2017 at 3:31 PM ^

How do they know who is going to be good?. Just stupid and biased. Should just rotate playing each team. Makes way more sense to me. Actually what would make more sense was leaving ht big ten the fuckin big ten with no stupid championship game.

Liked it a lot more the way it used to be. Never wanted any of those teams in. Things sure used to make a lot more sense in this world anyways so why not fuck up the big ten and add four teams. Hoping they still call it the big ten because these teams will be leaving or is it Delaney can't fuckin count.

Michigan should be able to beat any teams they play so I guess I don't care. Wisconsin is going to be on the losing end of those six years.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:27 AM ^

5 years before last year where we didn't play them at all.  Pretty dumbass schedule but par for the course given what passes/passed for leadership at B1G/D. Brandon.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:49 AM ^

BIG East:  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

B1G Other:  Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers

Play everyone in your division once.  No crossover games.  No conference championship game.  Most conference wins is the B1G Champion.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:49 AM ^

I'm glad. Wisconsin was turrible before they became good in the 1990s. Ever since then, Michigan-Wisconsin has been a pretty even series with many very competitive games. It's one of my favorite Big Ten matchups.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

We didn't play Wisconsin once between 2011-2015 as a result of the two instances of conference reallignment. This is to make up for that and also because of the parity stuff others have brought up.