Official: B1G to Nine Games in 2017

August 4, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

As I speculated back on July 25th, the Big Ten has now made it official: Beginning with the 2017 season, the league is moving to a nine-game conference slate.

Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State will play five conference home games in 2017 and every odd numbered year going forward (2019, 2021, etc). In even numbered years, those teams will play just four conference home games and five road games. Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern will have their five home game seasons in the even numbered years (2018, 2020, 2022, etc).

It stands to reason that when you have one extra conference home game, you stand a better chance of winning more games. Iowa will have that leg up on Michigan in the odd years…but I think Michigan is the ‘winner’ in the Legends split, as they will have the extra home games in years when Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State have just four conference home games.

As it relates to the Iowa-Iowa State annual football game, Iowa hosts the Cyclones in even ending years, so this lines up with the years they will host just four Big Ten games. This allows Iowa to host seven football games per year, every year…if Iowa and Iowa State keep their series intact, Iowa would likely host two non-BCS conference teams in the two remaining out of conference games. That gives them four conference and three non-conference home games in even ending years, then five conference and two non-conference home opportunities in odd ending years, with the road game at Iowa State.

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It will be interesting to see how many Big Ten teams continue to play BCS caliber competition from other conferences in their out of conference schedule, or how many ‘neutral’ site games will be played, such as Big Ten teams playing games at Soldier Field.

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I suspect they will continue to be on the endangered list.

The Big Ten schedule move also means there will be a two-year gap at most between meetings against teams from the opposite division.

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