During the summer of 2022, the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins announced that they would be leaving the Pac-12 and joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024. This sent a shockwave around the college football world, and in June of this year, the Big Ten released the future schedule of the conference with its new 16-team alignment but that schedule was quickly thrown away as it was announced that the Big Ten would be adding in two more teams from the Pac-12, as both the Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies would be joining the conference and bringing the total to 18 teams in the newly formed super-conference.
? The #B1G Announces ????-???? Future Football Schedule Formats
? Check it out below ?https://t.co/EXbVy0FiuL
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) October 5, 2023
Well, with now an 18-team conference it was back to the drawing board for the schedule makers of the conference and after months of hard work, the Big Ten has just released their conference schedule for football for 2024 to 2028. As we all know, this will bring some pretty big matchups between some of the top programs in the country as six teams of the future 18-team conference are ranked in the AP Top 10. So, with that being said, let's take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the new Big Ten futures schedule.
Ohio State's Draw
To start things off, the biggest surprise in the schedules is that Ohio State and USC will not see one another until the two play in Pasadena in 2026, and in the first year of the new alignment, the Buckeyes only go up against one former Pac-12 member with a road game against Oregon. They then play Washington on the road and UCLA at home in 2025. Now granted, they still play their bitter rival, Michigan, every year, and still have Penn State in 2024 and 2025, but the argument could be made that Ohio State versus USC is the game everyone is looking forward to the most.
Penn State vs the Pac-12
Unlike Ohio State, Penn State plays three of the newly acquired Pac-12 teams in the first year with home games against UCLA and Washington and a road trip to Southern California to play USC. Penn State then completes their path of playing all the Pac-12 teams in 2025 with a home game, and a potential White Out, against Oregon.
Washington's Rude Welcoming Party
Of the new members of the Big Ten, the Washington Huskies probably have the toughest schedule of the four teams and probably of the entire conference in 2024. Washington plays the other three members, with a road game against Oregon and home games against both USC and UCLA, but also has road games against Iowa and Penn State and plays host to Michigan.
Out With the Old, In With the New
With 18 teams in one conference, it is very hard to keep your usual in-conference matchups that we have been used to seeing over the last decade. As mentioned above, Ohio State and Penn State do not play in 2026 or 2027, but that is not the only Big Ten match-up going away as Penn State and Michigan will not play each other again until 2026.
The 18 teams of the newly-aligned Big Ten Conference will be debuting the Flex Protect XVIII model for scheduling 2024. This includes nine conference games with teams playing each other at least twice in a five-year span and during that same time span, teams will play rotating opponents no more than three times. Protected matchups were a big talking point and those are as follows: Illinois-Northwestern, Illinois-Purdue, Indiana-Purdue, Iowa-Minnesota, Iowa-Nebraska, Iowa-Wisconsin, Maryland-Rutgers, Michigan-Michigan State, Michigan-Ohio State, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Oregon-Washington and UCLA-USC.
The Big Ten is leading the way with conference realignments and this schedule release was just another milestone in the evolution of college football.
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