On an annual basis, there seems to be an uprising against one Power 5 conference and, at least some of the time, it has to do with scheduling. The SEC is largely given a pass based on the “gauntlet” each team must face in conference and the Pac-12 is leading the way in scheduling nine conference games to make things more palatable. However, ESPN’s Football Power Index is taking its statistical aggression out on the Big Ten this season, at least before the 2017 campaign begins.
The metric does not believe in the Big Ten from a scheduling standpoint and that is a clear indication that ESPN’s numbers don’t buy the league as a whole. Maryland boasts the No. 21 most difficult schedule in the country and that number sits at the top of the heap for the league. From there, Michigan State would be next at No. 36 and most of the conference is clumped together.
From Michigan (No. 55) to Northwestern (No. 65), the Big Ten occupies nine of the bottom 11 spots and, in short, that is not a good place to be for a Power 5 league. The Wolverines famously play Florida at a neutral site to open the season and Ohio State will face off against Oklahoma again this year. However, the conference scheduling numbers don’t look great based on the fact that ESPN doesn’t appear to think anyone in the league (outside of Ohio State?) is particularly scary.
These things are always fluid but, for now, there might be whispers about Big Ten scheduling before the year even begins.