The End. For Now.

By Jason Priestas on September 1, 2010 at 10:02p

The craziest summer in recent Big Ten history came to a clarifying close this evening when the league confirmed the members of the "X" and "O" divisions along with schedules for the 2011 and 2012 season.  The division names, placeholders for now, still need to be determined, but the teams that will occupy the divisions, on the football side, at least, are a reality.

Indiana Illinois Ohio State Penn State Purdue Wisconsin
Iowa Michigan Michigan State Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern

If the makeup of the divisions rings a bell, it's because they were leaked by virtually every beat reporter in the Midwest earlier today. Also leaked today -- and later confirmed by conference commissioner Jim Delany this evening was the hands-off approach the league took towards the scheduling of the Ohio State - Michigan game. Acknowledging fan reaction on both sides of the rivalry (Nebraska's Tom Osborne said he, too, had even received some unpleasant mail, which is really just the way we welcome people to the Rust Belt), the game will remain the final regular season game for both schools for the near future, though Delany, ever the lawyer, wouldn't commit to the anything permanent on that front.

The issue had caused tummy aches throughout Michigan and Ohio for most of the last two weeks after word surfaced of the conference possibly exploring the option of separating the two and moving the game up in the season. In fact, Delany said the conference considered a plan in which all "rivalry" games would be played within the first seven weeks of the season with intra-division games closing things out, but the plan was never passed on to the athletic directors for a vote. So, in the end, the people won out, though they did concede a split, which athletic directors at each school favored, and the necessary chance of immediate championship game rematches that comes with that.

Looking at the schedules, the Buckeyes earn the distinction of being the opponent in Nebraska's first-ever Big Ten home game, scheduled for October 8th, 2011. The Cornhuskers return the favor, traveling to Columbus for a game on October 6th, 2012. Pitting these two in an out-of-division game was a no-brainer for the Big Ten, with both programs currently peaking and staring down top 10 clashes each season.

9/29 - @ Michigan State
10/6 - Nebraska
10/13 - @ Indiana
10/20 - Purdue
10/27 - @ Penn State
11/3 - Illinois
11/10 - BYE
11/17 - @ Wisconsin
11/24 - Michigan
10/1 - Michigan State
10/8 - @ Nebraska
10/15 - @ Illinois
10/22 - BYE
10/29 - Wisconsin
11/5 - Indiana
11/12 - @ Purdue
11/19 - Penn State
11/26 - @ Michigan

Some quick thoughts on the 2011 and 2012 conference schedules:

  • The Buckeyes essentially swap Minnesota and Northwestern for Nebraska and Wisconsin. Next year, we're looking at road trips to Miami, Nebraska, and Michigan with home tilts against Wisconsin and Penn State. In 2012, we welcome Cal, Nebraska, and Michigan, while traveling to Sparty, Penn State, and Wisconsin.   At least we'll have SoS.
  • The race for championship game berths should be intense. The final weekend of '11 features Iowa @ Nebraska, Ohio State @ Michigan, and Penn State @ Wisconsin. The matchups remain the same, but the venues are flipped in 2012.
  • Terrelle Pryor will never have to play another game at Beaver Stadium, the Millennium Falcon to his Han Solo.
  • Thanks to scheduling being an imperfect art, Penn State will travel to Columbus next season as well, making two straight road appearances against the Buckeyes. A little bit of payback for the sweetheart deal Penn State received upon entering the conference that saw the Buckeyes travel to State College in '94 and '95.
  • Each school will play two home and two road games in each half of their conference slate.
  • There are six guaranteed cross-divisional matchups: ILL-NW, IND-MSU, OSU-UM, PSU-NEB, PUR-IOWA, and WIS-MINN. Not all rivalries and trophy games were accomadated, but Indiana and Michigan State will still get to play for their spittoon, so we'll chalk that up as a win for the league. Iowa kind of got shit on, but Delany explained Wisconsin was already somewhat geographically disadvantaged with the schedule, so the move was made to allow for a Badger/Gopher game.
  • They skipped each other in '03 and '04, but not seeing Penn State play Michigan will seem weird.
  • Most importantly, Delany confirmed games played out of division will count in the division standings, contrary to rumors that sprouted up last week.

Whew. Anyone else ready for some real football already?


Comments Show All Comments

Alex's picture

2011 Tailgate vs Wisco? 2012 vs. Nebraska?

thePhilipJFry's picture

Wisconsin got the shaft.  No reason they shouldn't play Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska every season.

dr green's picture

Sorry for the duplicate post, but maybe this is a better place for it.

I know there has been a lot of debate and comment on 11W as to how to divide the teams to set the Big X Divisions and where to put The Game, and someone might have commented on this before, but I'm curious about one thing in terms of putting The Game right before the Big X Championship Game. The Game to me would seem both emotionally and physically draining to the players. (I know it is to me as a fan.) Assuming The Game decides who goes to the BXCG, is there really enough time to recover and put the best effort forth in the BXCG?

Natty Light's picture

I think we should have a week off before the championship game...allow a week of healing/practice to make the game better and let the best team win

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Agree times infinity!

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

buckeyedude's picture

I think playing a rematch is better than the alternative, is it not?

OSU vs Michigan in October was opposed by 90 to 95% of the fans(my unscientific, biased, estimate).  Tradition is what sets the BigTen apart from the SECs and Conference USAs, and the NFL.




dr green's picture

I wasn't really concerned about the rematch senario, but rather the case where only one of the two teams has a chance to make it to the BXCG. Say we're undefeated within our division and go to the BXCG regardless of whether or not we win or lose The Game. Do we play patty cake with scUM and stay at full strength for the BXCG? Do we play our hearts out to avoid a loss from a down scUM team that potentially knocks us out of the MNCG? Do you think scUM won't play their hearts out with the chance to be spoilers (for the MNCG, but not the BXCG)? If we play balls out, will we be too depleted to beat the other division champ in the BXCG?

jack's picture

I like the divisions.  I'd like to see OSU-UM in the same division to make the game really matter, but a potential rematch in the title game works, that is until we beat them in the first game one year and then one/two weeks later lose the title game. There will be some genuine complaining then, you can bet good money on that.


Each division has a pancake and there are four good teams in each division.  Now it comes down to naming them.  And for the record, if there is such a thing, I'd like to see the area referred to as the Corn Belt instead of the Rust Belt. Everyone knows the area's manufacturing is dead. Let's focus on where the real beef eaters and corn-raised blockers come from, the rural midwest, family values and all that shit.


Go Bucks!!!

bucki5's picture

Since the intra-division match ups count as part of their league record - if that team up north and tOSU come into the game undefeated, and Nebraska loses to Iowa in their rival game, tOSU wins "the game" . . . how will the tiebreaker be decided?  Overall record? Last team to make it to the bigX Championship game?

Jason Priestas's picture

Delany said in the case of a two team tie, they will look at division records for the two. If three teams tie, he said they will incorporate the BCS. But, he also said something vague about there being a couple of ways to do that and they weren't sure which approach they would take.

gravey's picture

Everyone can call it a rematch...if it ever happens, but I'll call it the Delany Do Over Bowl

If the 2006 scenario were to play out again, that game, a game for the for all the marbles, would become...the game of the week....a warm up for the following week...which is when it would really count.  Tress, playing it safe would have benched Troy Smith and started Zwick who would have handed the ball to a Bo Delande or someone 50 carries straight. 

btalbert25's picture

I saw someone mentioned that Wisconsin got screwed, but I think Iowa got shafted pretty bad too.  They lose a great rivalry with Wisconsin and they no longer get to beat up on Penn State every year either.  Their cross divsion game is going to be Purdue??? I know there were a couple of teams out there that had to be left on the short end of the stick, and I guess Iowa is that.  But yeah, I guess as long as our rivalry is protected that's all that matters.

thePhilipJFry's picture

Iowa still gets Minnesota and Nebraska every year, Northwestern (lot of Iowa alums in Chicago), the Wisconsin thing hurts them both.

btalbert25's picture

The ame will always mean something.  Look at last year, it was basically a meaningless game for Ohio State.  I understand it's a different situation than what we could see in the future, but to assume one side of the other won't try because they'd play the next week just doesn't make sense.  Especially in the BCS era.  If ultimately your goal is the BCS title game, which is the desired outcome,  you dont' lay down one week to turn around and win the next.  you can't afford to lose if you want to go to the BCS title game.  I guess if all you want is to win the Big 10, then you could try to use that strategy but it still makes no sense to me.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Its extremely, extremely surreal that the 2010 Ohio State Football season starts tomorrow.

btalbert25's picture

I said it earlier that I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.  It's been a long summer of huge topics that were important but beat to death.  I'm so glad it's time for actual football.

btalbert25's picture

I think it's possible that this outcome could actually strengthen the game.  People point to 2006 as a year where it could have resulted in teams not trying etc, but I say what about 2006?  What would've happened if Michigan came back and won a close one in the Big 10 Championship the next week?  There would've been a very real chance of both teams making the BCS title game at that point in time.  If one of the teams was slighted in favor  of the other that intensifies that hate/animosity between the programs.  It could actually add to the hate and add more intensity.  Of it could be quarter til 1 and I'm making no sense at all lol.

Bucksfan's picture

Yeah, I sort of arrived at a different conclusion after thinking about this division a lot further.  I already mentioned this on another thread today, but it bears repeating.  The shear nature of the balanced league, where Michigan will have to survive Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan State...and Ohio State will have to survive Penn State (3 wins over Tressel), Wisconsin (3 wins over Tressel), and Illinois (2 wins) (not to mention Purdue, who've beaten the Buckeyes 3 times in the 2000's, with 2 other close calls), it's simply going to be that much tougher to survive the schedule unscathed.  With that in mind, there will be more intradivisional ties from season to season, where head-to-head tiebreaks will come into play.  THEREFORE, Ohio State-Michigan, if competitive someday again, will be important in that final W-L tally.  We might see Ohio State and Michigan dealing each other upset death blows in getting to Indy more often than having the chance to repeat.

Anytime you can shorten Michigan's season, it's a good year.