The Big Ten’s new football scheduling model and matchups for the next two seasons will be unveiled Thursday.
The Big Ten announced Wednesday that the conference’s new football scheduling model and who every team will play at home and away during the 2024 and 2025 seasons – the first that will include USC and UCLA as members of the Big Ten – will be released during a special on the Big Ten Network at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will appear on the broadcast along with new Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti and chief operating officer Kerry Kenny.
We have B1G news. Commissioner Petitti, @KerryBKenny & @OSU_AD will join a special edition of B1G Live tomorrow to reveal the new 2024-25 Big Ten Football schedule model and opponents #B1Gfootball24and25 pic.twitter.com/BWXBaOW3m2— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) June 7, 2023
Since the Big Ten announced the additions of USC and UCLA last summer, the expectation has been that the conference will scrap its current structure of East and West divisions. During a Tuesday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Petitti said the Big Ten will continue to play a nine-game conference schedule and that an effort is being made for every team in the conference to play one another in a regular rotation.
“The conference is playing nine games, there's a commitment to continue to do that,” Petitti said. “You don't want to go too long where schools continue to miss each other in terms of how often they play. I think just by comparison, one of the great things that we changed at MLB (where Petitti was previously deputy commissioner) was this year, if you look at the schedule, everybody plays everybody now. So if you're the Yankees, you're playing the Dodgers every year; you played them once at home, and then next year, you go on the road potentially. However it alternates. But it just allows you to not have to wait that long as a fan to see those teams, especially when those teams have star players. I think it's exactly the same sort of idea here; one, it’s easier to have competitive balance, you're playing more frequently. So I think those are some of the really important tenets you'll see when we announce what the format is.”
With the Big Ten expanding to 16 teams, one model that was proposed was for each team to play three of the same opponents on an annual basis and the other 12 teams twice every four years – once at home and once away. However, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported Wednesday that the frontrunner for the new scheduling model is a “Flex Protect” format in which each school would have one, two or three protected rivalry games – varying by school – while playing all of the other teams on a rotating basis.
Petitti confirmed Tuesday that the new model will include protected rivalry games; he did not specify what those protected rivalries will be, though Ohio State vs. Michigan is certain to be one of them, while Ohio State vs. Penn State would also be a logical matchup to keep on the annual schedule.
“If you can get into a format where you're protecting those core rivalries and at the same time you're creating a rotation that has members playing each other frequently, so you can provide that same type of connection, I think is really important,” Petitti said. “But obviously there are just certain things that you absolutely have to protect.”
Ohio State’s non-conference schedule for the 2024 season is already set, with the Buckeyes set to play a trio of home games against Southern Miss (Aug. 31), Western Michigan (Sept. 7) and Marshall (Sept. 21) in the first four weeks of the season. Come Thursday afternoon, we’ll also know who and where Ohio State will play the rest of its games in 2024.
The Buckeyes have two of their non-conference games set for the 2025 season, when Ohio State will open the year with an Aug. 30 home game against Texas and will also play UConn on Oct. 18.