Reviving Forgotten B1G Matchups: Could Playing League Foes in Non-Conference Games Do the Trick?

By Mike Young on May 19, 2014 at 11:00a

Conference expansion has already crushed the Big East and is threatening the work ethic of various athletic departments.

Last week, ESPN reported ACC athletic directors and coaches are discussing the possibility of scheduling fellow ACC schools as non-conference opponents. Florida State has enough trouble convincing powerhouse programs like The Citadel to come to Tallahassee, so that would certainly make it easier on their AD. 

In reality, their line of reasoning is that certain ACC schools will only play each other once in a span of 11 years (e.g. Duke and N.C. State). Following similarly flawed logic, ESPN also reported Big Ten athletic directors are considering the concept of adding league opponents in non-conference games.

What makes this a more perplexing idea for the B1G is teams will play a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2016 and, as a result of the schedule rotation, every Big Ten school will play each other at least once every four years. 

The Big Ten banned scheduling FCS opponents, which conference athletic directors can use as an excuse to fuel their laziness in scheduling future non-conference opponents. The only possible benefit of scheduling Big Ten teams in the "non-conference" is the revitalization of some of Ohio State's chief rivalries, which are no longer annual or even bi-annual affairs.



Despite their status as the Big Ten's paper tiger dynasty, the yearly game against Wisconsin was the biggest challenge on the Ohio State schedule. 

A season ago, the Buckeyes had to fend off a late charge (or a second half nap, as it were) to even get to Indianapolis. In 2012, the eight-win Badgers basked in the glow of OSU's postseason ban, as they went on to "win the Big Ten." The result of the 2011 game is seen above, while 2010 ended any national title hopes for the Buckeyes.

Animosity developed over that span, but it will soon dissipate. Wisconsin hosts Ohio State 2016 and the Badgers return to Columbus in 2019. Those are the only two games currently scheduled between the schools, in what was an annual matchup to determine the fate of the Big Ten.


A temporary, two-year hiatus put a halt to the series in 2003 and 2004. Before that, Ohio State and Illinois met every season for 88 consecutive years. 

It is deemed a rivalry because of the aptly-named wooden turtle, but the game's tradition can't be ignored – except, the Big Ten is making every effort to ignore it. The history between the Illini and Buckeyes is what makes the fabric of college football unique from any other sport.

Illinois is currently an affront to the history of college football. They haven't been this bad since the 1970s, but we could always count on Champaign's wind-tunnel destroying any Ohio State QB's confidence. They'll play the next two years, but will sporadically appear on the schedule as long as the conference's current structure stays in place.


Separating Ohio State and Purdue might be the only welcomed move of conference expansion.

The series survived three interruptions in the early and late 1990s, as well as the mid-2000s. During that time, the Buckeyes were not able to extricate their West Lafayette demons, losing in 2004, 2009 and 2011. Still, Ross-Ade Stadium provided one of the most enduring OSU moments of all-time, thanks to Craig Krenzel, Michael Jenkins and one of Jim Tressel's rare, ballsy play calls.

Purdue has never provided a dull moment in their history against Ohio State, but placing the two schools in separate divisions is one way to ensure we can't "get used to it." We should thank the Big Ten, as, over the next six seasons, the Boilermakers appear on the schedule only once – in 2018. 



Killer nuts's picture

I suspect we'll be meeting up with Wisconsin more often than what is currently scheduled in the form of the B1G Championship Game

+1 HS
avail31678's picture

I was gonna very much disagree with your comment.  But I decided to refresh my mind on what the new division alignment is and WOW - aside form Northwestern and Nebraska usually being decent, the West division is a joke!  Yes, Minnesota has been improving, but will it stick?  And Iowa.

Wow, I never really looked at the conference realignment.  It's downright unfair, at least with the current strengths of teams.

I can't believe PSU, MSU, TTUN, and Ohio State are in the same division.

+1 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

I know the schools don't want to lose their 8 home games a year, but I'd love to see 10 conference games, one big ticket non-conf against a BCS foe, and one non-conf vs. a smaller program like a Northern Illinois or a Kentucky. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+10 HS
JDunc686's picture

I see what you did there with Kentucky, and I approve lol

+10 HS
seafus26's picture

Then we'd only see a big game every few years when a dog caught its tail and another B1G team was having an up year. I want the short little stretch back we had playing teams that were current national powers. To help that happen, do we have to schedule games so far out? Maybe there is a reason for this. I fly every 2 weeks and if I don't schedule a minimum 2 weeks in advanced I pay inflated prices. Is there incentives to schedule 7 years in advance? This makes it hard to schedule vs current national powers. That was great when we got Texas and USC when they were up.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

TMac's picture

Why would we want to add either IIlinois or Purdue - I thought we needed tougher OOC games in the Playoff Era?!?!

ONE Not Done!

+6 HS
BroJim's picture

Still get chills watching Holy Buckeye. 

I season my simple food with hunger

+1 HS
jbuckeye007's picture

I love watching that game on Bten network - the game sucks, it's sooo boring.  BUT that one play is so awesome!!!!

I always wonder why Purdue wore light Jerseys for the game, it's hard to tell the teams apart.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Actually, the one game not mentioned that I wouldn't mind seeing played more often is Ohio State vs. Nebraska. When the Huskers joined the B1G, I was pretty excited to see this develop as a possible rivalry between two historical powerhouse programs. Alas, that does not appear to be forthcoming, aside from the possible B1G title fights to come.

+4 HS
avail31678's picture

Agreed Andy.  I like their fanbase also.  I was bummed we weren't going to see them for a while, especially after dropping 63 on them.  I gotta think they would help our SOS more ofthen than not as well.

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I'd miss playing any of the other B1G teams. Iowa has been a great rival, Minnesota has great history with us, Nebraska has the potential and was something I was certainly looking forward to as well. It's the necessary evil of the divisions I guess. I'm glad we have a conference championship game, and this is clearly the price.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+2 HS
avail31678's picture

Would these non-conference games count towards conference standings?  'Cause it's kinda stupid if they don't.

Please just schedule an SEC, Pac-12, or Big 12 out of conference game!  I fail to see how more B1G games would help SOS.  "Hey, must be the mon-ay!"


+1 HS
Unky Buck's picture

Would these non-conference games count towards conference standings? 

No, they would not count. They would be considered a non-conference game even though they're being played among conference opponents. I imagine it's done in order to keep everyone on the same amount of "conference" games being played each year.

If you jiggle your monitor, does that make a jiggly gif?

BucksfanXC's picture

Non-Conference games against Conference opponents is the most convoluted/simple solution to the problems of this expanded conference and divisions. I want to see more B1G games every year. I'd love to see conferences play a true round-robin style schedule, then have a championship game and send the winner to the playoffs against the other conferences.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+1 HS
buckskin's picture

I like this.  I would prefer to schedule one marquee game once a year (top 10), once mid level game (15-25), a B1G opponent scheduled for a non conference game, and a warm up game against a local school (mostly MAC to keep the money close).  Would also love to get the SEC to commit for a one and one every other year (not Vandy if you know what I mean).

BuckeyeBBD's picture

I really like that thought.  As far as the local school/MAC team, I would love to try and keep it in Ohio.  BGSU, Toledo, Kent, Akron, OU, Cincinnati, something like that.  The difficulty with the first part is that year to year it may be hard to schedule two OOC Top 25 opponents without going after the usual suspects that we can predict (Alabama, Oklahoma, etc.).  Cal was bad when we scheduled them in 2002 for the 2012-13 home and home, then they were pretty good, then they sucked by the time we played them.  We are scheduled to play Oregon in 2020 and 2021 and Texas in 2022-2023.  Who knows how good they will be that far from now.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I would agree that OSU vs Nebraska or OSU vs Wisky would be the best options to pick.  That is if we can't get a top tier opponent for a game.

Go Bucks!!

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

There is never a bad time to re-watch these games. Can't get enough of them!!!!!!!!!!

Knarcisi's picture

Purdue and Illinois better buck up their own programs before we see any value in going out of the way to schedule them. 

+1 HS
RBuck's picture

Ah man, I'm really gonna miss the IlliBuck game.

Long live the southend.

+1 HS